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
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.