Graham Norton

Graham Norton, real name Graham Wilson, (born on April 4, 1963) is an Irish actor and comedian. He achieved fame as a broadcaster on Britain's Channel 4 and also through his role as Fr Noel Furlong in the critically acclaimed television series Father Ted. Though he only appeared in three episodes, Norton's performance as Fr. Noel proved a massive hit with viewers.

Norton was born and lived his early life in Bandon, County Cork, in the Republic of Ireland.

Norton's rise to fame began as one of the early successes of Channel 5 when he won an award for his performance as a 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.

After this early success, Norton moved to Channel 4 and to host his own chat shows including So Graham Norton, V. Graham Norton and The Graham Norton Effect. 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 who remained likeable, even to the less right-on among viewers.

His shows are devoted to interviews of celebrities and raunchy conversations ensue. He generally precedes the interviews by asking questions of his audience members, for example: "Everyone stand up. Now sit down if you've never had a sexual experience with an animal."

He often phones authors of eccentric websites live on the show; often when they are fans of his guest. However, the addresses of the sites are no longer given out, as some of the owners have received hate mail and abuse in the past.

In 2003, he caused a national outcry among the more sensitive area of the media when, on his British 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 them and eventually Channel 4 had to make two apologies: one in the form of a caption slide before the show, another from Graham in person. Also in 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. His Channel 4 programmes have won a record number of comedy awards.

In the summer of 2004, Graham moved across the Atlantic to start a new venture in American television. The Graham Norton Effect debuted June 24th, 2004 on Comedy Central. In the midst of controversy surrounding Janet Jackson's Super Bowl performance, Graham was wary of moving into the market. Yet, The Graham Norton Effect has got away with the same naughty, suggestive jokes that made his UK shows so popular. He then signed a huge contract to defect to the BBC on his return to the UK.

Norton has recently been involved in a high-publicity advertising campaign for the National Lottery as a stooge to a character based on Lady Luck, played by Fay Ripley. He has also advertised McVities biscuits.

In 2005, he began hosting the BBC's Saturday evening reality TV series Strictly Dance Fever.

TV appearances


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