- Category : TV Presenter
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- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
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Graham William Walker (born 4 April 1963 in Dublin and raised in Bandon, County Cork, Republic of Ireland) is an Irish actor, comedian and television presenter. He is known by his stage name Graham Norton.
Norton was born in Clondalkin, a suburb of Dublin but grew up in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. He dropped out of University College Cork to move to San Francisco. He trained as a drama teacher at the Central School of Speech and Drama. In 1992 his stand-up comedy drag act in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as a tea-towel clad Mother Teresa of Calcutta made the press when Scottish Television's religious affairs department mistakenly thought he represented the real Mother Teresa.
His first appearances in broadcasting were in his spot as a regular on the BBC Radio 4 show Loose Ends when the show ran on Saturday mornings, in the early 1990s. His rise to fame began as one of the early successes of Channel 5, when he won an award for his performance as the stand-in host of a late-night talk show usually presented by Jack Docherty. This was followed by a comic quiz show called Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment, which wasn't well received as a programme but did further enhance Norton's individual reputation. He also took part in the show Carnal Knowledge.
Norton also played the part of the Father Noel Furlong in 3 episodes of Channel 4's Father Ted series in 1996; where he was often seen taking charge of a small youth folk-group.
After this early success, Norton moved to Channel 4 to host his own chat shows including So Graham Norton and V Graham Norton. As a performer who is not only openly gay, but also naturally camp and flamboyant, it was here that Norton's act was fully honed as a cheeky, innuendo-laden joker.
In 2003, he was the subject of controversy when, on his show on Channel 4, he made a comedic reference to the recent death of Bee Gees singer Maurice Gibb. The Independent Television Commission investigated after complaints about this insensitivity were forwarded to it and eventually Channel 4 had to make two apologies: one in the form of a caption slide before the show, another from Norton in person.
Also in 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy (though Norton is Irish, the bulk of his television career has been in the UK).
In the summer of 2004, Norton moved across the Atlantic to start a new venture in American television. The Graham Norton Effect debuted on 24 June 2004 on Comedy Central. In the midst of controversy surrounding Janet Jackson's Super Bowl performance, Norton was wary of moving into the market. The Graham Norton Effect got away with the same racy, suggestive jokes that made his previous shows so popular, but failed to attract an audience.
In 2005, Norton moved to the BBC and began hosting the Saturday evening reality TV series Strictly Dance Fever as well as Graham Norton's Bigger Picture. He also read stories some nights on the BBC children's channel CBeebies as part of Bedtime Hour.
He played Mr. Puckov in the 2006 comedy spoof Another Gay Movie. In the summer of that year he hosted the series How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? in which Andrew Lloyd Webber tried to find a lead actress for his West End version of The Sound of Music. He also presented the follow ups Any Dream Will Do, in which a group of males competed to win the role of Joseph in the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I'd Do Anything, in which Andrew Lloyd Webber seeks to find the part of Nancy and Oliver for Sir Cameron Mackintosh's production of Lionel Bart's Oliver. On 7 August, Norton recorded a pilot for a new BBC chat/game show My Lovely Audience, which is a mix of games and celebrity chats.
Norton has been involved in a high-publicity advertising campaign for the National Lottery as an animated unicorn, the stooge to a character based on Lady Luck (played by Fay Ripley). He has also advertised McVitie's biscuits.
Norton caused controversy on 7 October 2006, when he described cocaine and ecstasy as "fantastic".
In 2007, Norton featured in Girls Aloud and Sugababes' Comic Relief video for "Walk This Way". He also hosted the BBC One variety show When Will I Be Famous? His new chat show, The Graham Norton Show, began on 22 February on BBC Two. Although in a format that Graham hasn't been involved in for 4 years, it is very similar to his previous Channel 4 shows.
On 7 July 2007 Norton presented at Live Earth and undertook a trip to Ethiopia with the Born Free Foundation to highlight the plight of the Ethiopian wolf - the rarest canid in the world.
In March 2009 he made his stage debut in a West End revival of La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre.
Eurovision Dance Contest
Norton hosted the first annual Eurovision Dance Contest which was held in London, United Kingdom on 1 September 2007. The format was based on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing and the EBU's Eurovision Song Contest.
Eurovision Song Contest
In October 2008, it was confirmed by the BBC that Norton will replace Terry Wogan as the BBC's presenter for the UK heats of the Eurovision Song Contest, in a show to be called Your Country Needs You.
On 5 December 2008 it was announced that Norton would take over from Terry Wogan as the presenter of the main Eurovision Song Contest. The 54th Eurovision Song Contest will be held in the Olimpiyskiy (Olympic) Stadium, Moscow in 2009.
In 1989 he was mugged, stabbed in the chest and left for dead on the streets.
He had a five year relationship with American writer Scott Michaels of Dearly Departed Tours in Hollywood. In 2002 Norton had a relationship with Mr Gay UK Carl Austin. Norton suffers from vitiligo.