Being the most irritating man in Father Ted and keeping Jack Docherty's seat warm wasn't enough for GRAHAM NORTON. Now he's got his own, unique show. Words: Rob Driscoll
It's not a chat show. It‘s not IIe/ln.’ magazine. And it’s not stand-up comedy.
So what. exactly. is So Graham Norton? ‘lt will be spontaneous and topical. but certainly not about issues of world importance.‘ insists Norton. the award-winning actor-comedian who‘s been granted his own seven-week entertainment series in the hot- to-trot. late Friday night slot on Channel 4.
‘We will have guests. but this will not be their license to promote their latest film. book. show or whatever.‘ he says. ‘lt’ll be an unpredictable celebration of something trivial. Maybe the bringing together of Britain’s best-known hand-puppets: or a live phone chat with a German sex-line. This will not be deep. meaningful television. but I don't think people want that on a Friday night. I have the emotional depth of a puddle.‘
Dublin-born Norton's unique blend of offhand camp and engaging familiarity earned him a Perrier Award nomination at last year‘s lidinburgh Festival. but he is nervous as his fully-fledged debut as a regular presenter on national television approaches.
‘I stood in for Jack Docherty on his Channel 5 show and I‘ve fronted one-offs on (‘hannel 4. like Iim‘nvisinn Mus'ten'lus‘s‘ and Coming Out Night. but this is a big gig. When the preparations started I felt a
lot of pressure. but now I’m more relaxed. I want to
‘This will not be deep, meaningful television. I have the emotional depth of a puddle.’ Graham Norton
Hoop dreamer: Graham Norton
enjoy the show and keep the stress level down.‘
He has a reputation for mildly joshing his subjects during interviews. but insists they will be there more as stooges rather than victims. ‘If they‘re not enjoying themselves. I don't think that lends itself to a fun evening.‘ he says.
Having grown up in Bandon. just outside (‘ork. the 35 year old reckons he is lucky to have escaped small-town prejudices over his heart-on-sleeve gayness. ‘I moved to London so long ago. about twelve years back. that I didn‘t get much of a backlash coming out: I‘ve skipped through life in a fairly non-political way. btit then you go out into the
provinces and you meet people who are victims of
prejudice who are living fairly miserable lives. In that sense. I know I’m fortunate.‘
He goes back to Ireland about twice a year to see his family. ‘My dad‘s retired. so they tend to sit in the house all day long.’ he deadpans. ‘()ccasionally my
mother thinks my entire career is a plot to ruin her
‘But they were delighted when I appeared on [Vat/(er 'Ii'tl — in fact. that was probably the thing I‘ve done that‘s pleased them most. It‘s one of the shows that they and their friends watch without admitting to it.‘
So far. his show‘s celebrity guests are being kept top— secret. but Norton does have a wish-list. headed by. of all people. Una Stubbs. ‘l worship her at the altar — she's a kind of British Forrest (lump. in that she’s been beside every major comedy-cultural phenomenon since she was born. and her son is now rocking on 73),) ()f'l'lze Pups. Alas she has refused twice: after I'd begged her a second time. she wrote back saying she felt sorry she‘d said no. but her dates were clashing. I still believe there is
50 Graham Norton begins on Channel 4, Fri 3 Jul, 10.30pm.
Celebrity sofa surfing. This issue: Rhona Mitra.
Favourite TV show?
Favourite TV snack?
Mashed potatoes and onion gravy Rrhena
Which TV personality makes you want to be physically sick?
Bob Monkhouse hetause of hrs dreadful attempts at humour
Who was the first person on telly you ever had a crush on?
FOX/IO Bear from The Muppets And Ellrot from T T
Greatest TV moment of all time? Every ’Ooh, sau(e' or 'Ooh, (harmed I’m sure Kenneth erlrarns uttered
Who would be on your dream Pepsi Chart?
P-Funk The Artrst Stevre Wonder Which is the best soap opera? Easttnders, be<ause of Hank Butt her Greatest cartoon character of all time?
Pepe Ie Peu
If you could be in any TV show past or present. what would it be?
What have you got on top of your TV set?
A vrhratrnq plastic and fur pink prq What was the last video you rented? The Usual Suspe< ts
What's the best ever TV theme tune? Miss/on Impossible
I Rhona M/tra presents The Peps'r Chart, Channel 5, Weds, 7 30pm
25 Jun——9 Jul 1998 THE “ST 95