Sunday 26 May 2019

That's Dr Norton to you – comic gets honorary degree

Ralph Riegel

CHAT-show star Graham Norton revealed that the key to Ireland's success in Britain's cut-throat TV industry is our classic but classless accent.

The BBC host was speaking as he received an honorary doctorate at University College Cork (UCC) – the college he quit in 1983 halfway through his BA in English and French.

Hundreds of fans, including sixth-class pupils from Ovens National School, gathered to cheer Norton who took time to pose for photos and sign autographs.

His mother, Rhoda, and sister, Paula, both proudly attended the UCC ceremony.


"I am delighted that she finally got value for the money she spent on my education," he quipped.

The star, born in Bandon in west Cork, admitted that being Irish in the UK is a major advantage.

"There are so many very good people in London ... in a way it helps to be Irish," he told the Irish Independent.

"Terry Wogan always says that in Britain an Irish voice is a classless voice and you can talk to anyone whereas when a British person speaks, everyone immediately says they are richer than me, they went to a better school (or) a worse school. It is a disadvantage," he said.

The presenter, who attended UCC under his real name Graham Walker, said he loves returning to Ireland and adores his west Cork holiday home on the Sheep's Head Peninsula.

But he ruled out returning to work in Ireland and declined to offer any advice to RTE or Ryan Tubridy over 'The Late Late Show'.

"You can't compare. In fact, you are not comparing 'like with like'. We are in London and it is a very different thing. I really don't want to comment because I haven't seen 'The Late Late Show' in years and years," he added.

He revealed his biggest thrill as a presenter was hosting first Tom Cruise, and then Madonna on his show.

"Tom Cruise, Madonna ... they are proper, big, huge stars. You think you're going to be okay, but then ... you don't really think they are there, it could be an elaborate joke until you go 'Madonna' and out they walk."

He also admitted he is still "pinching himself" at a show last month which featured a galaxy of stars including Will and Jaden Smith, Michael Douglas, Bradley Cooper and Heather Graham.

"You dream about shows like that," he smiled.

Norton admitted that the UCC honour meant an enormous amount as he was a proud Corkman.

"I was more surprised than excited – it really is a proper thrill. This is like a picture postcard. It is like being in a movie about college."

Also honoured was BBC foreign correspondent and Cork native Fergal Keane, who admitted he was particularly thrilled with his doctorate because he couldn't attend UCC having failed French in his Leaving Cert.

The BBC reporter was receiving his first ever award from an Irish college.

"It really means a lot to me and to my family ... it is a huge honour," he said.

Also honoured yesterday were US judge Donald Molloy, and Cork businessman Dermot O'Mahoney.

Irish Independent

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