Graham William Walker, popularly known as Graham Norton, is an Irish television presenter, comedian, and writer. He is known for his popular British comedy chat show ‘The Graham Norton Show’ for which he won the National Television Award in 2017. Norton is an eight-time British Academy Television Award (BAFTA TV Award) winner, five of which he received for ‘The Graham Norton Show’. For his previous chat show ‘So Graham Norton’, which ran between 1998 and 2002, Norton won three BAFTA TV Awards and a Royal Television Society for the Best Presenter. Norton is very popular among his audiences for his ‘innuendo-laden’ style of dialogues as well as for his funny and charming character. He has also made his name as a radio presenter on BBC Radio 2. Graham Norton hosts the international song contest ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ as well and is regarded very highly by the critics for his “unique” and “fresh” way of hosting a show. In addition, he is a writer who has delivered popular novels like ‘Holding’ and ‘A Keeper’. He was chosen as the eighth most influential person in British culture by BBC in a poll conducted in 2004.
Childhood & Early Life
Graham William Walker was born in Clondalkin, Dublin, on April 4, 1963. His family follows the Church of Ireland. His father’s ancestors came from Yorkshire—a fact he found out after participating in the British genealogy documentary series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ His mother was from Belfast.
Graham Norton went to the Bandon Grammar School, in West Cork, and then attended the University College, Cork, to study English and French. After two years, Norton decided to drop out. However, he would receive an honorary doctorate from the same institution three decades later.
After he decided to become an actor, he received training at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
When he joined the actor's union Equity, there was already an actor registered under the name Graham Walker, which was Norton’s birth name. This forced him to adopt a different name and he happily adopted his great-grandmother’s maiden name, Norton.
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Graham Norton’s career started as a stand-up comedian and he appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe dressed as Mother Teresa in 1992. Norton’s appearance at the festival fooled the Scottish Television's religious affairs department as they thought Norton was, in fact, the real Mother Teresa!
He appeared on the British radio program ‘Loose Ends’ as a panelist and comedian in the early 1990s. The show was telecast on BBC Radio 4 and was a huge hit.
In the 1990s, Norton appeared in a number of shows including ‘The Jack Docherty Show’, ‘Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment’, and ‘Carnal Knowledge’. All of these shows established Norton as a popular comic figure in the television industry among the audiences.
His initial commitments with BBC and Channel 4 gave him the opportunity to host his own show. He picked up not one, but two shows, ‘So Graham Norton’ and ‘V Graham Norton’, on Channel 4. The former ran between 1998 and 2002 (five series) and won Norton the BAFTA TV Award for Best Entertainment Performance.
In the 2000s, Norton presented a series of talk shows on television including ‘V Graham Norton’ on Channel 4, ‘The Graham Norton Effect’ on Comedy Central, and ‘Any Dream Will Do’, ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?’, ‘I'd Do Anything’, and ‘Over the Rainbow’ which aired on BBC. All these shows aired in the 2000s.
Norton was signed for a new chat show ‘The Graham Norton Show’ on BBC Two in 2007. The show was almost similar to its previous version, and two years later, it was shifted to BBC One with a one-hour slot.
In 2007, Norton, along with Claudia Winkleman, hosted ’Eurovision Dance Contest’, the first ever pan European dance competition, which was a collaboration between BBC and The European Broadcasting Union (EBU).The show was hosted in England and later moved to Scotland for its second annual season that was also presented by the duo.
Norton replaced Sir Michael Terence Wogan (commonly known as Terry Wogan) for the role of the presenter at the UK version of ‘Eurovision Song Contest,’ titled ‘Your Country Needs You’ in 2008. He also replaced Terry Wogan as the presenter of the main ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ in 2009. The show was hosted at the Olympic Stadium, Moscow.
Norton has also appeared in a few films besides his work on the television. His first role in a film was of ‘Graham Solex’ in ‘Stargay’ in 1999. He has also appeared in other films like ‘Another Gay Movie’, ‘I Could Never Be Your Woman’, and ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’.
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Graham Norton’s biggest work to date is his talk show ‘The Graham Norton Show’ on BBC One which was first aired on BBC Two in 2007. The show has won Norton numerous prestigious awards including five British Academy Television Awards (BAFTA TV Awards).
Norton and Claudia Anne Winkleman presented the very first annual ‘Eurovision Dance Contest’ in September 2007. It was loosely based on the BBC dance show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ of The European Broadcasting Union. The duo hosted the second season too, which was filmed in Scotland.
Family & Personal Life
Graham Norton is openly gay and has talked about his homosexuality on multiple occasions. He supports the LGBTQA+ community on a regular basis. In the past he has dated Trevor Patterson and Andrew Smith.
He was once attacked by a group of thugs in 1989 in London and sustained near-fatal injuries. Norton almost lost his life! Fortunately, he was saved by an elderly couple and took almost three weeks to recover completely. He has talked about the incident on multiple occasions and has acknowledged the couple for saving his life.
His east London home was once burgled and his Lexus was taken away. He requested that his car be returned to him on his BBC Radio 2 show the subsequent day.
He has two pet dogs, Bailey and Madge (labradoodle and terrier).
This actor dedicated his first BAFTA TV Award to his late father who had passed away a few days earlier.