De­light­ful trumps in­sight­ful

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SATURDAY EXTRA -

BRITISH tele­vi­sion star Gra­ham Nor­ton has hit back fol­low­ing Michael Parkinson’s criticism of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of chat show hosts, and be­moaned the rise of ‘‘goody goody’’ dra­mas.

Vet­eran broad­caster Parkinson, 77, who re­tired from his chat show in 2007, says it’s sad that tra­di­tional shows have been re­placed by pro­grams fronted by comics.

But Nor­ton, 49, tells the Ra­dio Times: ‘‘What we’re in the busi­ness of do­ing isn’t re­ally in­ter­view­ing peo­ple.

‘‘We’re in the busi­ness of en­ter­tain­ing an au­di­ence, so you’re not re­ally go­ing to get an in­sight from the ques­tions I ask. You’ll get an in­sight from watch­ing how that per­son on the couch in­ter­acts with the oth­ers. That is of­ten re­ally re­veal­ing.’’

Nor­ton la­bels Reser­voir Dogs star Har­vey Kei­tel as his worst guest, say­ing: ‘‘He hated be­ing there . . . He didn’t re­ally speak at all.

‘‘He had a fit be­cause I had some ac­tion fig­ure of him that had a gun . . . But once you’ve been in Reser­voir Dogs, it’s a bit late to tell kids don’t play with guns.’’

The for­mer Chan­nel 4 star, who has just signed with the BBC, says the mag­a­zine au­di­ences have be­come less lib­eral since he started work in the in­dus­try.

‘‘There are things we can’t say and do on TV or ra­dio that 10 years ago we ab­so­lutely could have said or shown,’’ he says. ‘‘I think that’s the BBC read­ing the mood of the au­di­ence – the au­di­ence don’t par­tic­u­larly like cruel jokes, though I think they did.’’

Asked whether it was an ac­cu­rate or para­noid re­flec­tion of the au­di­ence, he says: ‘‘Prob­a­bly a bit of both. We’d show a pic­ture that might have had a pe­nis in it, and we can’t show that now. The au­di­ence re­ally laughed at it, and that’s sort of stopped.

‘‘If you think back to some of the shows we watched grow­ing up, like I Claudius – that would never be shown now. I won­der, would Queer As Folk hap­pen now? . . . And the big drama hits now are so goody goody. Like you would never see a nip­ple on Down­ton Abbey.

‘‘When we were grow­ing up, you’d have thought that by now in EastEn­ders there could be nu­dity, but that’s not the case.’’

Nor­ton says fear pre­vented him go­ing un­der the knife to get his eye bags fixed, that he did not have celebrity friends, and that he had no re­grets about his failed at­tempt to make it in the US.

He would not fol­low in the foot­steps of his pre­de­ces­sor Jonathan Ross by flirt­ing with some of his chat show guests.

‘‘An aw­ful lot of fe­male celebri­ties are very beau­ti­ful whereas a lot of male celebri­ties are not so hot . . . If you’re

Mon­days, 8.40pm, UK-TV. Gra­ham Nor­ton. in­ter­view­ing Ricky Ger­vais, you can’t go, ‘ph­wooar’.

‘‘You don’t want those guys to think they have some power over you . . . You’d feel grubby; that they’d won some­how.’’

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