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Tuesday 26 September 2017

‘He was a huge influence on me. He was always in control’ – Graham Norton praises Gay Byrne as his broadcasting inspiration

Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne Picture: Mark Condren
Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne Picture: Mark Condren
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Chat show host Graham Norton has praised Gay Byrne saying he was a “huge influence” on his broadcasting career.

Norton told American podcaster Ru Paul on ‘What’s the Tee’, that he patterned his chat show on Gay Byrne’s The Late Late show.

“In Ireland we have a show called the Late Late show, it’s the longest running show. I grew up with Gay Byrne. When I look back I can see that he was a huge influence on me. He was so at home in front of the camera,” Norton told Ru Paul.

“When I watch archive clips you the show looks old fashioned but he was just so fluid. He could go from a really funny bit to serious.

Graham Norton
Graham Norton

“There was a famous episode where there was a competition to win a car and then Gay phoned you live on air to say congratulations you won a car. So he phoned this woman to say congratulations. He said to her you don’t seem very excited and she said ‘we’ve just had some bad news’. Her daughter had died that day in a car accident. He had just given her a car.”

Norton said it was the way he handled the story that impressed him.

“It’s one of those things were as a broadcaster your instinct would be ‘ok goodbye’ but no, he talked to this woman. There was a priest on the panel and he talked to her and there was a poet who had a great poem on loss. This was a light entertainment chat show. He was able to steer it with confidence.

“He said this is my show and anything can happen in the world because I’m in control.”

Norton, who is originally from Cork, said as he grows older he “falls in love with Ireland all over again”.

“When I left, I didn’t just leave, I ran away. I couldn’t wait to get away in 1983. There was no way I was ever going back. But as I grow older I fall in love with Ireland again.”

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