Gra­ham Nor­ton: ‘I’m lucky – men are al­lowed to grow old grace­fully’

Re­turn­ing to make Fri­day nights worth stay­ing in for, king of chat Gra­ham Nor­ton talks diva guests, be­ing the ‘funny kid’ and why he’d never go un­der the knife…

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With a glass of wine in hand, and a raft of A-lis­ters on his sofa, Gra­ham is back with a weekly dose of witty repar­tee with the big­gest stars in the world.

Gra­ham, 55, got his start as a stand-up co­me­dian be­fore land­ing a chat show on Chan­nel 4 in 1998. Since mov­ing to the BBC in 2005, he has be­come the na­tion’s favourite chat-show host and has writ­ten two au­to­bi­ogra­phies and two nov­els. The first,

Hold­ing, was a best­seller in 2016, and the sec­ond,

A Keeper, is out this month. Here Gra­ham – frank and witty as al­ways – re­veals more about his as­ton­ish­ing suc­cess…

How does it feel to be re­turn­ing with The Gra­ham Nor­ton Show for a 24th sea­son?

It blows my mind that I’m still do­ing a chat show, 21 years on from So Gra­ham Nor­ton on Chan­nel 4. But I do gen­uinely en­joy and look for­ward to it. Even if you’ve had guests on be­fore, you can never quite pre­dict the chem­istry on the night. Some­times you get it wrong – like you for­got this age­ing ac­tress doesn’t like sit­ting next to beau­ti­ful young ac­tresses – but mostly it works.

You’ve had nearly ev­ery­one – is there any­one else left to get?

Brad Pitt and An­gelina Jolie, and we’ve only had Jen­nifer Anis­ton once. Some­body in that group must hate us and the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor is Brad! We get a lot of re­peat guests now, like Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep – so in a way you plateau, but it’s a very high plateau to reach.

We hear about big stars mak­ing ab­surd de­mands – fur rugs, blue M&Ms and so on. What rid­ers have come

your way re­cently?

One guest was al­ler­gic to ev­ery­thing. In fact, the list of things she was al­ler­gic to was so long we thought, ‘How can you put cloth­ing on and sit on a couch? How did you even get here?’ The nice thing is we only have to deal with these peo­ple for a day – imag­ine hav­ing to make her show!

Were you the fun­ni­est child at school?

My fa­ther, Billy, was a great teller of funny sto­ries and my mother, Rhoda, is good with a snappy comeback. That

may be where I got it from, but I’m not sure I was funny at school. An ex-school­mate told the pa­pers I was pop­u­lar, but one of us is mis­re­mem­ber­ing and I think it’s him. When I was a waiter af­ter drama school, I twigged I could get big­ger tips if I was funny with cus­tomers.

You started as a stand-up. Would you re­turn to that?

I get to talk to the au­di­ence be­fore the show, so I get that adren­a­line fix. Never say never, but I don’t think I ever loved it... I did it to make money.

You dole out sound ad­vice each week in a pa­per’s agony un­cle col­umn. Have you had ther­apy?

I haven’t. Maybe I’ve just got men­tal friends and I’ve re­mained a lit­tle bit saner, be­cause I’ve seen them go off the rails. In my friend­ship group I’ve al­ways been the sen­si­ble one, be­lieve it or not. You’re quite rich – are you much of a shop­per? It’s ex­cit­ing at first when you re­alise you can af­ford to go into de­signer shops, and when you start buy­ing things you can see them think­ing, ‘ We’ve got a live one here!’ and they pay at­ten­tion. But I’ve calmed down a lot, be­cause I’m in­her­ently lazy. I’ve ac­tu­ally got good at the clear-out now.

So where do you stand on cos­metic surgery?

I've thought about it, but I’m prob­a­bly too scared, be­cause I’ve seen it go wrong and be­cause that ship has sailed. I like to think I’ve grown into this face. I’m lucky be­cause men have per­mis­sion to age grace­fully, and wrin­kles aren’t so much of a prob­lem – for us it’s more about not get­ting fat.

You’ve been do­ing your chat show for more than two decades. Any plans

teirnejo, vmeark?

Ito s triell ye i! ng the show. At some point, there’ll have to be a dis­cus­sion about it, when they need to put ramps in to get me on stage, be­cause it will be an added ex­pense! But right now, I have no exit strat­egy. l

Watch The Gra­ham Nor­ton Show on Fri­day, 10:35pm on BBC One. Catch-up on iPlayer now.

Gra­ham with A-lis­ters Meryl Streep, Carey Mul­li­gan, Ni­cole Kid­man and Nigella Law­son

Gra­ham with mum, Rhoda Sport­ing a shock­ingly fash­ion­able shirt early on his early ca­reer

As Fa­ther Noel in Chan­nel 4 com­edy Fa­ther Ted At a party in his hon­our in New York in 2004

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