‘IF I KNEW WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR IN A RELATIONSHIP, I MIGHT BE IN ONE!’ says Graham Norton
TV favourite and author Graham Norton on fame, fiction and looking for love
Graham Norton has become a household name for his hilarious Friday night chat show, which has made him one of the BBC’S highest-paid stars. He also has a show on Radio 2 and a weekly agony column in the Telegraph, so you’d think he’d be too busy to take on anything else. But somehow, in the middle of all that, he’s become a novelist in his 50s. His first book, Holding, was a great success and he’s now publishing his second novel, A Keeper.
Set in Ireland, where he grew up, the story centres around a woman who answers a lonely hearts column in the 1970s and is drawn into a family’s dark secrets. It’s a surprising read from a writer known for his witty asides who has lived in London for 30 years, but it’s Ireland and its stories that inspire him, he says.
Enjoyment drives me on.
I enjoy the TV show and I still enjoy the radio show and the Telegraph column. Writing a book was about age. I’d always said I wanted to write a book and, when I turned 50, I thought if I’m going to do it, then I need to get on with it. My first one was published when I was 53. You don’t do many new things at 53, so it was a nice feeling to be a debut anything at that age. It was the final thing on my to-do list of the things I aspired to do.
Ireland inspires my stories.
This book comes from a story that my mother told me about someone she knew, whose daughter answered a lonely hearts ad from a farmer and went to visit him, but it all turned out to be a lie. A Keeper is dark in a Gothic way – it’s so dark, it’s entertaining.
When I finish the first draft
I send one to my mum, one to my sister, one to an old English teacher and one to a friend of mine who reads a lot of fiction, so I can get feedback about what I need to clarify. It’s scary because you’re putting it out into the world.
My pleasure in the book is over now.
My pleasure was in creating it and now this bit [being interviewed] is the worky bit. It’s a bit like people coming on my show – I’m now in the awkward situation of trying to sell my book!
If I knew what I was looking for in a relationship, I might be in one!
I think the big thing is not to look for too much in a relationship. That’s possibly been my mistake in the past; to expect someone to be everything for you. I’ve been single for a while – a couple of years anyway. I’m not doing Tinder any more, but I’m still going on dates and stuff. You know, hope springs eternal. Maybe not springs quite as much as it used to, but still.
I like living alone.
I think when you have kids it makes sense to live together because it’s all hands on deck for childcare, or you can share with someone because you pool your resources to live somewhere nicer. But I live somewhere nice by myself. Why would I want to share that?
I cry a lot about nonsense.
I cry about anything. Films, songs and telly documentaries. Watching my dogs get old makes me sad, too. Bailey is going to be 14 soon. Her hair is falling out and she lost a tooth over the weekend – she’s falling apart. That makes me sad. The thing about our relationship with dogs is that we keep the secret that they don’t know they’re going to die. We all know, we don’t have to tell each other. We enjoy today because tomorrow we might pop our clogs. Dogs think it’s going to go on for ever and I think that’s why we like spending time with them, because they live such a simple,
really uncomplicated life.
My friends have always asked me for advice,
so my agony column in the Telegraph is my dream job. I think some of my advice is surprisingly good – I say surprising because I know that if I’ve been in similar situations I haven’t done what I’m telling readers to do. Perhaps I should follow my own advice. I do take it quite seriously and it is quite a responsibility. If I get any whiff that the reader might be dealing with bigger issues or mental health problems, I always advise them to find some real help – because I’m just some bloke off the telly.
You want really famous people on the TV show
because the excitement in the studio when I say Tom Cruise or Cher or whoever is palpable. There is a bubble of fame around them. There is something, I don’t know what it is – even after all these years I can’t really put into words what it is. But there is something special about them, about their energy. Big stars do carry something with them.
As a kid I used to dream of being on the Late, Late Show. But now I’m an adult I realise being the host is much better. Because I’ve had a job for 20 years, the people I interviewed 20 years ago are not coming on the show any more. These are the vagaries of fame. If you have your feet by the desk, that’s a much better job.
There is a temptation to have plastic surgery,
then you see people who do it and think, ‘This hasn’t really worked out well for anybody.’ Men are lucky, too. We’re allowed to get older, we don’t have that tyranny of youth that women do. So I’m resisting the knife!
◆ A Keeper by Graham Norton (Coronet) is out 4 October
‘Men are lucky. We’re allowed to get older, we don’t have the tyranny of youth that women do’
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