My Life In Media: Graham Norton

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The Independent Online

Graham Norton, 41, is the great hope of BBC1 having been lured to the corporation's flagship channel from Channel 4 in a deal reportedly worth £5m. Norton was born Graham Walker in County Cork, the son of a Guinness representative. After his plans to become a journalist came to nothing, he went to live in a hippie commune in San Francisco. He moved to London and became an actor but waited tables until his late 20s. He has risen to become one of the biggest stars on British television.

So, what inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

After waiting on tables in London, things could only go upwards from there, really. Excuse the pun. But in all seriousness, presenting is my passion and without this job I don't know where I would be working now. Probably at the Blue Elephant as a waiter.

When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

We used to read The Irish Times and the Cork Examiner in our house, but despite being great reading they were mostly only ever used to light the fires.

And what were your favourite radio and TV programmes?

On the radio I loved Club na n'Og (Youth Club), and on TV my heart always skipped a beat when I heard the theme music for An Nuacht (The News).

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

I'm usually a radio person in the morning. I listen to Radio 4 if I've got time at home, but if I'm in the car, then it's the Chris Moyles show on Radio 1. I've been on the show a few times and it just makes me laugh.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

Occasionally, by accident, I see the AOL news when I am checking on my e-mails. I lead a far too hectic life to keep up with current affairs all day. If I'm travelling, I will read the day's papers - usually a tabloid and a broadsheet, although I'm really not too fussy.

What is the best thing about your job?

Money? Obviously, as I have already said, I have a fantastic craic on all of my shows and have met some fascinating people and, to be honest, quite strange people. One of my finest achievements was to help a small calendar company massively to increase its sales of a calendar of roundabouts in a small village after featuring it on one of my shows. Hilarious! But I'd still have to say the money.

And the worst?

I'm not the biggest fan of Q&As... Can't you tell?

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

It has to be winning the International Emmy award. To be recognised on an international scale is something very special and it put the show on to the world map. This led to some fantastic shows in Spain and Japan, with Si Graham Norton and Ah So Graham Norton.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Forgetting Britney Spears had been a guest on my show. Truly embarrassing.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

I don't buy Sunday papers, and as for magazines, it's Wallpaper* and Homes & Gardens - property is the new porn. In the office, I'll read FHM, Zoo, and anything else that's lying around.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire

To still be working after I've reached retirement age.

If you didn't work in the media, what would you do?

Wait tables, though because I'm getting older, I might apply for a more managerial position.

Who in the media do you most admire, and why?

Terry Wogan, because he works very hard and earns every penny he gets from the BBC. I wish he was on more.

'The Graham Norton Effect: Let Loose in the USA' is out now on DVD, £19.99