Graham Norton — things you didn't know about the comedian

Graham Norton at the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020
Graham Norton is a much-loved comedian on TV. (Image credit: Getty)

Graham Norton is one of the UK's best-loved comedians, authors and presenters, bringing us interviews with some of the most famous people in the world on his TV and radio shows. 

Not only is Graham famous for hosting the Eurovision Song Contest after taking over from Terry Wogan in 2009, but he also spent 10 years hosting the Radio 2 Saturday morning slot before moving to Virgin Radio UK in January 2021 where he presents the morning show every Saturday and Sunday. 

Graham is also a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race UK, but he is perhaps most famous for his award-winning chat show, The Graham Norton Show, which is now in its 28th series after being originally launched in 2007 on BBC2. The show is now prime time Friday night television on BBC1 and has won five BAFTA TV Awards over the years, with Graham winning eight BAFTAs in total.

But what else is there to learn about the much-loved comedian and presenter? Here are a few things you might not know.

1. His name isn't Graham Norton. 

Graham was actually born Graham William Walker, and added Norton to his name for professional purposes when he joined the British actors union, Equity. Norton was is great-grandmother's maiden name and he chose to use that when he discovered there was already another famous Graham Walker. 

2. There has been confusion over the fact he has a 'wife'. 

While Graham is openly gay, there has been some confusion in the past over is relationship with agony aunt, actress and presenter, Maria McErlane, who he has worked with for decades. The pair worked together on TV shows and Radio, with Maria even making the switch from BBC Radio 2 to Virgin Radio with Graham earlier this year. The pair have been close friends for years, and Maria even jokingly calls herself Graham's wife, causing some fans to think the pair were actually married. 

3. He makes his own wine and gin. 

Graham teamed up with Invivo Wines to launch his own range called Graham Norton's Own. He has a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a Rose, a South Australian Shiraz, an Italian DOC Prosecco and an Irish Gin and a Pink Gin, and he has even won awards for his wine making. Graham's wine and gin are available to buy in Sainsbury's, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda to name but a few stores...

4. He's a best-selling author. 

As well as being hugely successful as a comedian and a chat show host, Graham is also an award-winning author, having been awarded the Sunday Times Bestseller and winner of the Irish Post Popular Fiction Award for his third novel, Home Stretch which was first published in 2020. His first novel, Holding, was published in 2017 and his second, A Keeper — also a Sunday Time Bestseller — was published in 2019. Graham also has two autobiographies. 

The first is called So Me and was published in 2004, while his second, titled The Life and Loves of a He Devil first came out in 2014. In 2010 he also had his columns from his Daily Telegraph advice pages printed into a  book called Ask Graham

5. He's in a Disney film. 

Graham has been in numerous films, including Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, but his biggest hit to date has to be playing a spiritual character in the Disney and Pixar animated movie, Soul. He announced the news that he was going toby voicing a character in the new film on Twitter: "Disney and Pixar have a new funny, sweet, incredibly timely film called Soul, and... I'm in it! This is my character Moonwind, a spiritual sign twirler."

6. He's lucky to be alive. 

When Graham was at drama school in 1989 he was stabbed in a vicious mugging in north-west London. He told the Evening Standard in 2004 that he lost half his blood and spent two and a half weeks in hospital: "I nearly died, but in a way being mugged liberated me. Before, being cast in the best role in drama school was all that mattered. After that it all seemed a bit silly, really."

7. He had an operation as a child after lying to his mother. 

Graham admitted that a lie he told his parents in a bid to bunk off school soon got out of hand and lead to him having a body part removed unnecessarily! The chat show host told Mel Giedroyc on her new show Unforgivable that when he was seven he lied about having tummy ache so his mother took him to the doctors. 

But the lie soon spiralled when the doctor said he had appendicitis and needed an operation. But instead of coming clean about his fib, Graham went along with it: "I thought I either had to have an operation that I didn't need, or I tell the doctor that there's nothing wrong with me and there will be two very angry adults. So I had the operation!"

8. Mother Teresa gave him his big break. 

Well, sort of! Graham's drag act 'Mother Teresa of Calcutta' became a huge hit at the 1992 Edinburgh Festival and gave him his big break into the world of TV. He once told the Hindustan Times: "Mother Teresa was certainly pivotal to my success. I chose her because she studied English in Dublin."

Graham Norton's fact file. 

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the comedian.

How old is he?

Graham Norton is 60 years old. He was born on 4th April 1963. 

Where was he born?

Graham Norton was born in Ireland. 

Is he married?

Graham Norton married Jonathan McLeod in 2022.

How tall is he?

Graham Norton is 5ft 7 inches tall.

Instagram: @grahnort

Twitter: @grahnort

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.