BBC stands by Graham Norton in drugs row

Campaigners lambast TV host for praising ecstasy as 'fantastic'

The BBC moved to defend the presenter Graham Norton last night amid growing pressure from anti-drugs groups after he admitted having taken "loads of drugs" and praised ecstasy as "just fantastic".

The comic has been condemned by campaigners following his comments in a magazine interview with The Independent on Sunday's editor-at-large, Janet Street- Porter. The host of hit BBC shows Strictly Dance Fever and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? said: "I've tried loads of drugs, but it would really bug me if I got busted in the tabloids because I take them so rarely."

In the interview for Marie Claire, Norton, 43, said: "The only time I took ecstasy was years and years ago. It was absolutely amazing. It was just fantastic - really, really fun ... I think that coke is middle-aged stuff. It's quite a slow drug that involves coffee tables. To me, it's a middle-class choice of drug."

Norton recently signed a three-year contract with the BBC after finding his niche with cosy Saturday night entertainment shows.

The BBC stood by Norton last night. The corporation said: "The issues that Graham discusses in this interview are aimed at an adult audience and reflect the frank and open nature of his personality."

However, his comments were condemned by the National Drug Prevention Alliance, which said it was "staggered" by his views, while the charity DrugScope said celebrities should acknowledge that for many people there was "a downside to drug use".

A spokesman for the National Drug Prevention Alliance said: "We're appalled. It's mind-blowing that somebody has said that. He's in the public eye and influencing young people. It's irresponsible. We know that people die randomly from ecstasy - very few, but some do."

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of Sane, said: "[His] comic talent and ability to communicate should make him even more responsible in talking about drugs which will influence the many young people for whom he is a role model."

DRUGS DISGRACE AT THE BEEB

ANGUS DEAYTON Lost his job as host of BBC2's Have I Got News For You after tales of cocaine-fuelled nights with prostitutes.

CRAIG CHARLES The actor was charged with rape and accused of taking cocaine. He was exonerated and reprised his role in BBC2's Red Dwarf.

JOHNNY WALKER The veteran Radio 2 disc jockey was suspended for eight months in 1998 after admitting taking cocaine but kept his job.

RICHARD BACON The Blue Peter host was sacked after admitting taking cocaine soon after the show celebrated its 40th birthday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea