Ir­ish stars blaz­ing a trail on Bri­tish telly

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - INTERVIEW -

mem­oirs) his vices and his hu­mil­i­a­tions. He hasn’t sought to con­ceal his mis­takes or his dis­ap­point­ments in love. (When an ex-boyfriend was ap­proached by a news­pa­per to do a kiss and tell, it was Nor­ton who ne­go­ti­ated the fee.) Nor­ton doesn’t deny his vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, but rather skew­ers them for comic ef­fect. Over­all, it adds up to make him ar­guably one of the most pop­u­lar Ir­ish­men liv­ing abroad.

“Maybe I’m lucky in that I like my mother,” he says. “We get on. I no­ticed my friends re­ally en­gage with my mom when they meet her. She’s go­ing to be 87 this year but she’s still very... she’s in­ter­ested. And you re­alise that of all the fac­ul­ties that we try to hold on to as we get older — like my mother can’t re­ally do stairs right now, although I think she’ll be go­ing to get back on stairs — but she’s kept her cu­rios­ity and I think that is key to get­ting you through. My mother is con­stantly plan­ning to get the kitchen painted, she’s get­ting new cur­tains... I’m 55 and I look at my house and I go, ‘it’ll see me out. That’s fine. It’ll see me out. Keep plan­ning.”

In­ter­est­ingly, the mother-child re­la­tion­ship as an ul­ti­mately re­demp­tive thing is at the heart of the story in A Keeper.

“I don’t have a kid,” he says. “But I have a mother and I have enough friends who are par­ents. I don’t know whether all par­ents are like this or whether it’s a neu­rotic mod­ern thing where you live your life in guilt. That you are not good enough. At ev­ery mo­ment you are fail­ing in some way. Whereas I think par­ents didn’t have that be­fore.

“The pre­vail­ing at­ti­tude used to be ‘they’ve got shoes and they had some food a minute ago so I think my job is done’. And I think good par­ent­ing is prob­a­bly some­where in the mid­dle, but most peo­ple aren’t there. Most peo­ple are ei­ther ne­glect­ful or overly cau­tious. I think if I was a par­ent I would def­i­nitely be overly cau­tious, I would lock a child in a room, they could come out when they were 18. Maybe 23.”

With an ex­cit­ing new ca­reer in de­vel­op­ment, things are look­ing pretty good for Nor­ton. He only drinks when he goes out th­ese days — not be­cause he’s re­formed, on the con­trary, he cheer­fully ad­mits that on a night out he “drinks like a fish” but “be­cause some­body said to me, those are empty calo­ries. If you drink a bot­tle of wine while you’re watch­ing telly — I like the taste of wine, but get­ting slightly tipsy watch­ing telly doesn’t make watch­ing telly any bet­ter — and you’ve con­sumed a shed load of calo­ries you didn’t need to con­sume... You get drunk but Sharon Hor­gan: BAFTA win­ning Sharon Hor­gan has be­come one of the most in­flu­en­tial fig­ures in Bri­tish com­edy. She started her telly ca­reer as a co-pre­sen­ter on The Fri­day Night Project, and went on to win re­spect as a writer and per­former via the darkly comic se­ries Pulling. The same jaun­diced, some­times-bleak tone which at­tracted Pulling’s cult fol­low­ing has re­mained her sig­na­ture, even as her shows, such as Catas­tro­phe and most re­cently Moth­er­land, won her wider, and even­tu­ally global, au­di­ences.

Gra­ham Line­han: A former Hot Press jour­nal­ist, Line­han hit the big time with Fa­ther Ted, the dar­ing, ir­rev­er­ently comic se­ries he cre­ated with Arthur Matthews. The pair took it to the UK, where it found a home at Chan­nel 4. It quickly scooped sev­eral BAF­TAS and se­cured Line­han’s place in Bri­tish com­edy’s hall of fame. Since then, he’s helped master­mind a string of hits in­clud­ing Black Books, The IT Crowd and, most re­cently, Moth­er­land co-writ­ten with his wife Helen Line­han and Sharon Hor­gan.

Laura Whit­more: Co Wick­low’s most fa­mous bomb­shell blonde got her big break into UK TV when she won MTV’S tal­ent search Pick Me MTV. Since then, ca­reer high­lights in­clude co-pre­sent­ing I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. This year, she pre­sented the ITV2 se­ries Sur­vival of The Fittest.

Life im­i­tat­ing art .... Gra­ham Nor­ton pos­ing be­side a portrait of him­self and (left) pic­tured on a cruise with his ex-part­ner Trevor Pat­ter­son

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