BUB­BLY BAB­BLER

Join ir­rev­er­ent host Gra­ham Nor­ton for a cheeky glass of wine and a look at the year that was with the help of his celebrity guests

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV - ANNA BRAIN

What did self­pro­fessed “mas­sive booze­hound” Gra­ham Nor­ton sip on New Year’s Eve? Prob­a­bly his cus­tom-made New Zealand sau­vi­gnon blanc, which has been flow­ing freely in the show’s Green Room since a pair of en­tre­pre­neur­ial Ki­wis sent him some.

“Th­ese two young guys, they came up with the idea of mak­ing me my own sauv blanc, and there it is,” he says.

“I’m duty bound to drink it now.

“Smart of them. How hard it is to print a la­bel, stick it on and tell me it’s mine?”

Nor­ton is known for en­joy­ing a glass of white with guests while host­ing his popular chat show – Rus­sell Crowe fa­mously tweeted his drink or­der ahead of an ap­pear­ance.

As he writes in new book, The Life and Loves of a He Devil, “... all you re­ally need to know about my re­la­tion­ship with booze: when in doubt, grab a drink. When in joy, or sad­ness, or bore­dom, grab a drink.”

But un­til the show is over, Nor­ton says his limit is one glass.

Join­ing him on the couch on New Year’s Eve for a drop of Nor­ton’s spe­cial blend is Liam Nee­son, Euro­vi­sion win­ner Con­chita, Anna Ken­drick and Ed­die Red­mayne (“who just might win an Os­car” for his turn as Stephen Hawk­ing in The The­ory of Ev­ery­thing, Nor­ton reck­ons).

And one less-recog­nis­able guest, Sir Bradley Wig­gins.

“He’s the man who won the Tour de France, but for Bri­tain, not Aus­tralia, so we un­der­stand if you zone out when we’re talk­ing to him,” Nor­ton says.

“We al­ways try to have enough in­ter­na­tional peo­ple on the couch be­cause you don’t want it to be a sofa full of peo­ple who are only fa­mous in Bri­tain. And oc­ca­sion­ally – apolo­gies, Aus­tralia – oc­ca­sion­ally that can hap­pen.

“It doesn’t mat­ter, be­cause you are aware that you’re a sec­ond-hand au­di­ence. You’ve bought an old jumper. It’s not ex­actly what you wanted, but you do like it any­way.”

In nearly 20 years on TV, Nor­ton has in­ter­viewed a vast ar­ray of celebri­ties. He says his bucket list is more or less com­plete.

“There’s some big stars we haven’t had. We’ve never had George Clooney, Brad Pitt, An­gelina,” he says.

“But when I set out 20 years ago there were peo­ple who I thought I’d re­ally like to talk to. Now I’ve talked to all those ones. Or they’ve died. Apart from that, I’ve been lucky.”

Hav­ing judged hun­dreds of storytellers from his au­di­ence in the in­fa­mous red chair, and found most want­ing, Nor­ton knows the early signs of a good tale. Tell a de­cent yarn and they can walk away. One tiny fum­ble and they’re un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously tipped back­wards.

“Red chair sto­ries need to be pretty darn quick, or there needs to be a big old clue early on that it’s go­ing to end in nu­dity, or some ter­ri­ble em­bar­rass­ment, or the death of a loved one,” he says.

But Nor­ton doesn’t be­lieve he could pull off a suc­cess­ful red chair story him­self.

“I don’t think they’d keep me in the chair. I’ve just writ­ten my book, and … I thought in my head, ‘th­ese are all re­ally good sto­ries for the red chair’, but they’re not.”

The Gra­ham Nor­ton Show New Year spe­cial 10pm tonight.

Gra­ham Nor­ton has in­ter­viewed a wide ar­ray of celebri­ties on his show.

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