Graham Norton is a staple of British telly, a National treasure and, when Eurovision rolls around each year, there’s no-one else we’d rather be sharing it with.
His hilarious and sometimes pretty daring commentary during the Grand Final of the European singing competition on BBC One is probably the biggest reason why us Brits are still fans of the show, despite it being some 25 years since we last won it. He’s not afraid to say what he sees (and feels) and viewers at home love him for it, as they did when it was the late, great Sir Terry Wogan on the mic.
But aside from his quips from inside his Eurovision commentary box, and the endless A-listers he has befriended on his self-titled chat show, just what makes Graham, Graham? And how has one near-death experience played a part, if any, in shaping him into the man we all know and love today?
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Here are some things to know about the voice of the UK ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 Grand Final this evening…
His near-death experience
It could have been a very different story for Graham – and British told for that matter – as, while in his last year at drama school, he was stabbed in London.
The Irish presenter was walking in Kilburn in London, in 1989, when he was stabbed by a group of attackers. He lost around half of his blood and spent two and a half weeks in hospital recovering.
Back in 2003, he spoke about his near-death experience, saying that it was “touch and go.” He added: “It was very serious. It was a mugging, I didn’t even realize I’d been stabbed in that classic way, because your adrenaline is pumping. I looked down and I saw all this blood.”
Then, six years later, while working on a book, he wrote: “Horrible, horrible, horrible as it is to contemplate, I was stabbed in the chest, at about 3am in the morning, Friday, 8th of July. Needless to say , it was a bit of a waking hell.
“Everything dissolved into sheets of white, and waves of weakness swamped over me. Not wishing to sound melodramatic, but I knew I was dying.” He reportedly didn’t believe the attack to be homophobic, as he was walking alone at the time.
An elderly couple were the ones to discover Graham in the street, saving his life when they called for an ambulance. Since then, Graham has been back to the site where he was stabbed – albeit accidentally – to film a Christmas advert for the BBC. He said: “What are the chances?”
And, looking back on the incident, he has said in interviews that it has given him a unique perspective on life – and even helped him deal with rejection in the TV industry.
His biggest fib
According to an article by the Irish Examiner, when he was younger Graham pretended to have a stomach ache to get him out of going to school. Taking him to the doctor to get checked out, Graham’s mother was shocked to learn from the doctor that her son would need surgery for appendicitis – the only trouble was, that Graham was still pretending!
He said: “We go to the doctor, he’s examining me, I go ‘ow’ and he said to go and sit in the waiting room. I’m thinking, this is awful, he’s in there now telling my mother there is nothing wrong with me, I’m going to get in such trouble.
“I come back in and he says ‘you’ve got something called appendicitis and so you’ll be going into hospital to have your appendix out. Now I’m thinking I’m really f****d because either I have an operation that I don’t need or I tell this doctor that there is nothing wrong with me and I’ve got two very angry adults in the room.”
He said he kept the secret for 50 years.
His love life
Graham dated Kristian Seeber, who is best known from RuPaul’s Drag Race as drag queen Tina Burner.
He split up from his partner of two years, Trevor Patterson, in 2013 and broke up with his subsequent partner, Andrew Smith, in 2015. He said in 2015 that his ex-boyfriends often resented the role they had to play in the public eye as his partner.
His real estate
As well as a home in the Wapping area of London, Graham owns an apartment in New York City and a holiday home in Ahakista, County Cork.
In January 2012, his home was burgled and the keys to his Lexus were stolen. Graham appealed for the return of his car from him during his BBC Radio 2 show the following day.
Graham had two dogs – a labradoodle called Bailey and a terrier called Madge, which he adopted from the UK charity Dogs Trust in 2012. However, in September 2020 he said that Madge had passed away back in December 2019, while Bailey died close to October 2020 in Cork at the age of 15.
You can watch, or rather listen, to Graham Norton in action at the Eurovision 2022 Grand Final which starts at 8pm on BBC One tonight (Saturday, May 14).
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.