Submitted by Don Doman
For ten years comic Graham Norton has been hosting his own talk show on BBC (late night Saturdays). My wife and I haven’t missed too many episodes. Like similar talk shows he starts off with a monologue, which utilizes large images for his live audience to see and laugh at. He has a broad sense of humor, which on British television means he uses words and innuendo that won’t fly here in America. American guests who visit him for the first time seem a little bewildered . . . until they’ve finished their first glass of wine or whatever.
The high-light of the show sometimes is the “Big Red Chair.” Members of the audience are chosen to tell a personal story. They sit in a red chair off stage. If the story teller comes from a strange place like Scotland or France, or seems too boring, or for whatever reason, Graham Norton pulls an on-stage lever and the chair flips over backwards. Sometimes the guest stars reach over and take control. It’s just plain stupid . . . and so Irish.
Norton was born near Dublin, and grew up in County Cork. Norton appeared on the TV program Who Do You Think You Are? to learn that his ancestors came for Yorkshire, but have been in Ireland for generations. He’s proud of being Irish.
On his show he is quick with a witty joke or two. One of my favorite Norton lines has him talking about Armenian singers sporting traditional dress, “which would be true if you come from the village where Liberace is the mayor.”
Guests on his show are either famous in the U.K. or famous in both the U.S. and the U.K. We like the show for the guests and their interaction. Each show has a musical number near the end of the program. One of my favorite numbers was by Cyndi Lauper performing I’m Not My Father’s Son from her musical Kinky Boots. Peg and I had seen Kinky Boots at the Grand Cinema when the film first came out. On the TV show the simple staging with candles, a grand piano, and bare feet was quite moving. We also like this interlude when we find new musical stars to enjoy. Paloma Faith singing Just Can’t Rely on You sent me directly to my computer to order the CD. The song, like Prince’s 1999 just makes you want to get up and dance. The song was written by Faith and American singer and producer Pharrell Williams.
The episode with Paloma Faith has to be my favorite Graham Norton of all times. The show featured Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and Hugh Bonneville cavorting, drinking, laughing and just having a good time. Faith fit right in and played along.
The first time I saw American singer, rapper, songwriter, record producer, actor, and businessman CeeLo Green was on the Graham Norton Show. Sometimes you need to be a continent away to learn about what’s going on in your own backyard. The Graham Norton show is a great place to learn about the U.K., Europe, and our place in the world.