Graham William Walker (born 4 April 1963 in Dublin, Ireland) is an Irish actor, comedian and television presenter. He is known by his stage name Graham Norton.
He achieved fame as a broadcaster on Britain's Channel 4 and also through his role as Father Noel Furlong in the critically acclaimed Irish television series Father Ted. Though he only appeared in three episodes, Norton's performance as Father Noel proved extremely popular with viewers. Norton is openly gay, and is one of Ireland's most famous gay personalities. He has since moved from Channel 4 and done much work for the BBC, with various shows for BBC One and BBC Two, and work on BBC Radio 2.
He grew up as Graham Walker in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. He dropped out of University College Cork to move to San Francisco. In 1992 his stand-up comedy drag act in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as a tea-towel clad Mother Teresa of Calcutta made the press when Scottish Television's religious affairs department mistakenly thought he represented the real Mother Teresa.
His first appearances in broadcasting were in his spot as a regular on the BBC Radio 4 show Loose Ends. This was when the show ran on Saturday mornings, in the early 1990s. His rise to fame began as one of the early successes of Channel 5, when he won an award for his performance as the stand-in host of the late-night talk show usually presented by Jack Docherty. This was followed by a comic quiz show called Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment, which wasn't well received as a programme but did further enhance Norton's individual reputation. He also took part in the show Carnal Knowledge.
After this early success, Norton moved to Channel 4 to host his own chat shows including So Graham Norton and V Graham Norton. As a performer who is not only openly gay, but also naturally camp and flamboyant, it was here that Norton's act was fully honed as a cheeky, innuendo-laden joker.
He has interviewed many famous celebrities including Cher, Dido, Shannen Doherty, Britney Spears, Sophia Loren, Elton John, Marilyn Manson, Mariah Carey, Shirley Bassey, Pete Burns, Gabriel Byrne, Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood Heath Ledger and Diana Ross.
In 2003, he was the subject of controversy when, on his show on Channel 4, he made a comedic reference to the recent death of Bee Gees singer Maurice Gibb. The Independent Television Commission investigated after complaints about this insensitivity were forwarded to it and eventually Channel 4 had to make two apologies: one in the form of a caption slide before the show, another from Norton in person.
Also in 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy (though Norton is Irish, the bulk of his television career has been in the UK).
In the summer of 2004, Norton moved across the Atlantic to start a new venture in American television. The Graham Norton Effect debuted on 24 June 2004 on Comedy Central. In the midst of controversy surrounding Janet Jackson's Super Bowl performance, Norton was wary of moving into the market. The Graham Norton Effect got away with the same racy, suggestive jokes that made his previous shows so popular, but failed to attract an audience.
In 2005, he moved to the BBC and began hosting the Saturday evening reality TV series Strictly Dance Fever and Graham Norton's Bigger Picture. Norton read stories some nights on the BBC children's channel CBeebies as part of Bedtime Hour. He played Mr. Puckov in the 2006 comedy spoof Another Gay Movie.
Over the summer of 2006, he hosted the series How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? in which Andrew Lloyd Webber tried to find a lead actress for his West End version of The Sound of Music. He also presented the follow ups Any Dream Will Do, in which a group of males competed to win the role of Joseph in the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I'd Do Anything, in which Andrew Lloyd Webber seeks to find the part of Nancy and Oliver for Sir Cameron Macintosh's production of Lionel Bart's Oliver. On 7 August, Norton recorded a pilot for a new BBC chat/game show My Lovely Audience, which is a mix of games and celebrity chats.
Norton has been involved in a high-publicity advertising campaign for the National Lottery as an animated Unicorn, the stooge to a character based on Lady Luck (played by Fay Ripley). He has also advertised McVitie's biscuits.
In 2007, Norton featured in Girls Aloud and Sugababes' Comic Relief video for "Walk This Way". He also hosted the BBC One variety show When Will I Be Famous? His new chat show, The Graham Norton Show, began on 22 February on BBC Two. Although in a format that Graham hasn't been involved in for 4 years, it is very similar to his previous Channel 4 shows.
Eurovision Dance Contest
Norton hosted the first annual Eurovision Dance Contest which was held in London, United Kingdom on 1 September 2007. The format was based on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing and the EBU's Eurovision Song Contest.
Norton has stated that he felt "out of place" growing up in Ireland; his family are Protestant yet Ireland is overwhelmingly Catholic. Norton took part in the TV programme, Who Do You Think You Are?, to trace his ancestry. It was discovered that his family were originally planters sent over from England to take over Irish land. Some members of his family had fought for the British Monarchy during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and taken part in a massacre of Catholics in Carnew Castle. Another member of his family was later killed in battle by the United Irishmen. Norton said he was comforted to find out that his family had resided in Ireland for generations.
In 1988 while living in London, Norton was mugged, beaten and stabbed by a group of attackers on the street. He says he lost half his blood and nearly died, and he was hospitalised for two and a half weeks.
Norton owns a holiday home in Ahakista, County Cork, which is near to where he grew up, in Bandon. The house has a private beach and overlooks Dunmanus Bay.
Norton has a labradoodle dog called Bailey.
- Norton, Graham. So Me. Hodder & Stoughton, 4. ISBN 0340833483.
- Norton, Graham. "Graham Norton Bio, Fcats and more", 2 October 2019. Retrieved on 18 November 2019.
- Template:Cite newspaper
- Norton, Graham. So Me. Hodder & Stoughton, 326-333. ISBN 0340833483.
- Graham Norton: 'BBC defends Norton drug comments'. bbc.co.uk. Retrieved on 2007-11-29.
- "Graham Norton". Who Do You Think You Are?
- Norton, Graham. "Graham Norton: agony uncle", 2 October 2010. Retrieved on 28 November 2011.
- Jones, Liz. "Graham's growing pains", This is London, 3 September 2004. Retrieved on 28 November 2011.
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