Flat­tery gets a shriek­ing Norton nowhere with rock roy­alty El­ton

Scottish Daily Mail - - Television - CHRISTO­PHER STEVENS

BLIMEY, rock roy­alty el­ton John knows how to put mere com­mon­ers in their place. Gra­ham Norton flew to the su­per­star’s home in the South of France for an in­ter­view, and barely got fur­ther than the front porch.

One minute Gra­ham was bowl­ing along the boule­vard in Nice, at the wheel of a gold Rolls-Royce. The next, he was squashed into a cheap white arm­chair, al­most knee to knee with Sir elt, in the cramped cor­ner of a sit­ting room.

And that’s all we saw of the house, on El­ton John: Un­cen­sored (BBC1). No ball­rooms, no chan­de­liers and cer­tainly no glimpse of the he­li­pad where the song­writer wel­comes the likes of meghan and Harry for their hol­i­days.

Gra­ham flat­tered the old showoff sense­less, go­ing in to ec­stasies about this year’s biopic Rock­et­man and the new au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, me. ev­ery weak joke or silly voice (el­ton likes to em­bel­lish his anec­dotes with im­pres­sions) was greeted with shrieks of laugh­ter.

But he got nowhere with all this but­ter­ing-up. The cam­eras were al­lowed into the house strictly on suf­fer­ance, while the star plugged tick­ets for his end­less ‘farewell tour’. in­ci­den­tally, don’t feel too de­spon­dent if you fail to get a seat at any of the hun­dreds of shows el­ton is plan­ning over the next cou­ple of years: he ca­su­ally dropped into the con­ver­sa­tion that, when the tour is fi­nally over, he in­tends to play ‘res­i­den­cies’, or strings of dates in one place.

He once sang ‘Sorry seems to be the hard­est word’ but ev­i­dently the one he re­ally strug­gles with is ‘enough’. Gra­ham was obliged to keep the ques­tions short, be­cause el­ton doesn’t rel­ish the sound of any­one else’s voice.

The prob­lem was that he’s told most of these sto­ries so many times, the rem­i­nis­cences were rushed and some­times dis­jointed.

A cou­ple of times, punch­lines about stage cos­tumes, or the time he put his wig on back­wards, didn’t make sense un­til he went back and filled in cru­cial de­tails that he’d for­got­ten to men­tion.

But the in­ter­view did come alive when talk turned to the singer’s ad­dic­tions. He was in­cau­tiously can­did about his drug use, and he dropped names the way he once popped pills: John len­non, Fred­die mer­cury, Princess Di, michael Jack­son, Rod Ste­wart and linda lovelace got men­tions, not all favourable. And it was clear that he had sur­prised him­self with his ca­pac­ity to love his two sons. ‘Orig­i­nally i was go­ing to die on stage,’ he said. ‘Now i don’t want to, i want to be with my kids.’

As in el­ton’s own life, a pi­ano is cen­tral to Tim minchin’s road­trip sit­com, Up­right (Sky At­lantic), which launched with a dou­ble bill. minchin, a daz­zlingly clever comic song­writer who might be far more pop­u­lar if his hu­mour wasn’t so ag­gres­sive and caus­tic, wrote and stars in the eight-part se­ries.

He plays lucky, a gaunt-eyed drinker who is try­ing to drive across Aus­tralia tow­ing a pi­ano, to see his ter­mi­nally ill mother. His plans come adrift when, after mix­ing booze and med­i­ca­tion, he crashes his car on a re­mote scrub­land road.

His pi­ano isn’t dam­aged, but the 16-year-old driver of the other ve­hi­cle is. She’s bro­ken her wrist. lucky of­fers to drive her to hospi­tal...and from the mo­ment he wres­tles his seat­belt into place, we know they’re go­ing to be stuck with each other.

if the idea isn’t too orig­i­nal, the di­a­logue is. it’s jagged, fast and un­sen­ti­men­tal, with a ten­dency to spi­ral off into philo­soph­i­cal ar­gu­ments.

Though it’s frus­trat­ing to see new com­edy locked away on a pay-to-view chan­nel, there’s no way the BBC would have made this show.

it’s very...Aus­tralian.

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