Madonna mission possible
THEY say you always want what you can’t have in life. For UK chat show host Graham Norton, that’s singing sensation Madonna.
The Irish comedian has interviewed everyone from Lady Gaga and Rihanna to Johnny Depp and Gordon Ramsay on his various shows throughout the past 13 years, but the ’ 80s pop icon has remained elusive.
‘‘ She’s my dream booking because, after all this time, she’s still one of the biggest stars in the world and she’s kind of a phenomenon,’’ Norton says. ‘‘ At the beginning I quite wanted her as a guest but, because we’ve never been able to get her, now I really want her as a guest.’’
And this year, as the highly successful Graham Norton Show moves from the ABC to TDT, that wish looks like it may just come true.
‘‘ We’re getting very, very close so, hopefully, that will happen in this series.’’
While many fans have not taken too kindly to the news that the program is switching to TDT, Norton says the move, which means the show will air in Australia only a few hours after it screens in the UK, is a positive one.
He is confident the series will not change. All your favourite celebs will still hit the sofa for a night of fun, frivolity and craziness.
While Norton’s cheeky personality and wild sense of humour have made the show look easy, he admits getting celebrities to open up is anything but simple.
‘‘ The hardest thing in the show is making sure everyone is kind of talking. You focus on them and do an interview with them, but you equally want to open it out, so it’s finding those moments . . . the common threads between the guests.’’
It also, occasionally, requires Norton to do a little hand- holding before the show begins to ensure everything runs smoothly in front of the cameras.
‘‘ Sometimes they’ll ask to meet you beforehand and sometimes I think I might just want to stroke that arm just to reassure them,’’ he says.
Other times, however, Norton says things just fall perfectly into place.
‘‘[ The show with] Stanley Tucci, Miriam Margolyes and comedian Jimmy Carr was so much fun – we just had the best time – so much so that the four of us have gone out to dinner, like, three or four times,’’ he reveals.
Although he finds it difficult to declare favourites from his many guests, he says there are those who have been more special than others for personal reasons.
‘‘ There are people who I am a fan of . . . like Dolly Parton, Cher, Dustin Hoffman, Glenn Close – people you have really admired for years and you’re sort of nervous about having them on because what if they’re not as good as you think they’re going to be,’’ he says.
‘‘ But so far, touch wood, the people who I’ve really wanted to have on have been great. I think they know that I’m not faking it and they know that I’m a genuine fan.’’
So, how much longer can Norton and the show keep going?
‘‘ I don’t know,’’ he says. ‘‘ If someone told me all those years ago that we’d still be doing the show and I’d still be enjoying it, I totally wouldn’t have believed them.
‘‘ As long as we’re finding an audience and we’re enjoying it, we’ll keep doing it.’’