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Norton, Graham (b. 1963)  
page: 1  2  

Just as Norton was starting to enjoy great professional success, he suffered a disappointment in his personal life when he and his partner of five years, American television researcher Scott Michaels, parted ways.

The weekly series So Graham Norton was such a hit that Channel 4 decided to put him on the air five nights a week and to rename the show V Graham Norton. This program was also extremely popular, but Norton chose to leave it after two years and try his hand at American television. He hosted The Graham Norton Effect on the Comedy Central channel in the summer of 2004. Although the show failed to attract a large audience, and Norton soon returned to Britain, the frequent reruns have made him well-known to American television viewers, especially gay men.

Although the BBC had signed Norton to a contract reportedly worth between 3.5 and 5 million pounds in 2003, the network did not find a vehicle for him until 2005, when he began hosting Strictly Dance Fever, a show on which aspiring dancers perform before a panel of judges. His role on the program is a departure from his previous television work, as he does not make his comedic talent the focus, but rather highlights the contestants.

The BBC featured Norton more prominently in another show that debuted in 2005, The Bigger Picture. Norton called the program "edgier and [more] adult than some other BBC shows," but noted that the tone would be different from that of his earlier series. "You can only trade on camp for so long," he commented.

The Bigger Picture still permits Norton to do comedic monologues and chat with guests, but the guest list now includes people who discuss serious current events. Although the program received poor reviews at first, it subsequently took off and was another success for Norton.

Norton teamed with Andrew Lloyd Webber in 2006 on the BBC show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, a contest to determine which of the participants would win the starring role in a West End production of The Sound of Music (book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein) in November of that year. The program was an immediate hit as viewers eagerly awaited the decisions of the judging panel that included Lloyd Webber, producer David Ian, actor and singer John Barrowman, and vocal coach Zoe Taylor.

In August 2006 the BBC outbid its competitor ITV to sign Norton to a "golden handcuffs" contract that will keep him at the network at least through the end of 2009. The deal was said to be worth some four million pounds.

Despite his busy schedule of television work, Norton occasionally does stand-up comedy shows in clubs and has had small parts in a few feature films, including Todd Stephens's Another Gay Movie (2006) and Amy Heckerling's I Could Never Be Your Woman (not yet released).

Norton's most recent romance, a long-distance relationship with an American singer named Kristian Seeber, ended in early 2006. Although Norton stated that he "[found] it difficult to imagine getting married" himself, he favors equal rights for gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry or adopt.

"I can't believe how anyone could be against gay couples adopting children," he said. "Are there really people who think it's best for children to be without a parent [rather] than to have a good, loving home?"

Linda Rapp

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social sciences >> Overview:  Adoption

Although there are frequently social and legal barriers to overcome, adoption is an important way in which lesbian and gay male couples create families.

arts >> Overview:  American Television, Talk Shows

For glbt people, television talk shows have been both promising and problematic; they have brought glbt issues to public awareness, but until recently they have also presented glbt people as stereotypes and freaks.

arts >> Overview:  British Television

Until recently, British television embraced lesbians and gays as Them rather than Us, but a more diversified and nuanced approach to all kinds of sexuality is likely to be the case in the future.

arts >> Overview:  Canadian Television

The portrayal of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer people in English Canadian television programming has been sporadic, but the advent of PrideVision promises to increase the number of shows developed for a glbtq audience.

arts >> Overview:  Comedy: Stand-Up, Gay Male

Beginning in the 1980s, a new generation of gay stand-up comics began to appear, telling jokes from the perspective of the gay insider.

social sciences >> Overview:  Same-Sex Marriage

Lesbian and gay couples have been fighting for the freedom to marry since the dawn of the modern glbtq struggle for equality; despite some success abroad, progress toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been slow.

arts >> Barrowman, John

Accomplished actor and singer John Barrowman has won plaudits as a musical theater star, as well as for his roles in film and television.

arts >> Gately, Stephen

Singer, songwriter, and actor Stephen Gately gained fame as one of the lead vocalists in the Irish pop group Boyzone.

arts >> John, Sir Elton

Pop superstar Elton John's combination of melodic skills, dynamic charisma, and raucous performance style have make him a remarkably popular musical artist.


Armstrong, Stephen. "Seriously Graham Norton." The Guardian (London) (August 1, 2005): Media, 2.

Duerden, Nick. "Carry On, Graham." The Independent (London) (July 30, 2005): 12-15.

English, Paul. "Strictly Bolder and Wiser; The TV Star May Be Mellowing a Bit But Won't Be Tamed by the Big Interview." Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail (April 1, 2006): 4.

Glitz, Michael. "Graham's Crackers." The Advocate (March 13, 2001): 50.

Kennedy, Victoria. "My Heart's Broken, But I'll Survive." The Mirror (London) (April 1, 2006): 24.

Roche, Elisa. "Norton Will Get GBP 4m to Stay in His Job at BBC." The Express (Scotland) (August 18, 2006): 32.

Teeman, Tim. "How Do You Find a Girl to Play Maria?" The Times (London) (August 8, 2006): 6.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Norton, Graham  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated September 21, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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