Norton could return as O'Grady threatens to leave Channel 4

Norton could return as O'Grady threatens to leave Channel 4

British TV presenter Paul O'Grady has threatened to leave Channel 4 over plans to slash his chat show's budget in half, fuelling speculation that Irishman Graham Norton may return to the broadcaster.

O'Grady, 54, whose contract runs out at the end of this year, said he would not be part of a programme which had "outrageous" cuts made to it.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that Norton is poised to quit BBC1 and return to Channel 4, where his TV career took off.

A short statement on Norton's behalf from his agent said he is currently in talks with the BBC to renew his contract.

It said: "We are in discussions with the BBC to renew Graham's contract when it expires at the end of the year."

Norton joined the BBC in a deal worth an estimated £7.5m (€8.5m), and has fronted shows like 'How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?' and this year's 'Eurovision Song Contest', which were well-received.

However, his recent BBC1 show 'Totally Saturday' was widely seen as a failure.

It is thought that Norton, 46, could strike a deal to work with several broadcasters rather than just one.

A BBC spokeswoman described any talk of Norton quitting as "just speculation".

Speaking about plans to reduce the £2m (€2.26m) budget for 'The Paul O'Grady Show', the programme's host told today's Daily Mirror: "Cutting it by half is outrageous...

"You're going to end up with the blandest of the bland and I won't be part of it."

He said he really wanted to carry on and was prepared to perhaps take a pay cut himself.

O'Grady warned: "But I'm not going to turn around to my staff and say 'We've got to cut your wages or sack you'. They've been with me for six years - they have mortgages to pay and families to feed."

He told the newspaper: "Honestly, it would be the bare a**e of a show and it would be a compromise too far.

"I'd be mortified to do a show that's third rate."

O'Grady said of his show: "Perhaps Channel 4 thought I'd roll over, but that's not going to happen."

It has also been mooted that O'Grady may make a move to Sky.

A Sky1 spokeswoman said: "There have been a number of exciting new signings for Sky1 announced just last week and we're certainly looking to bring more new talent to the channel.

"At this stage we have no-one else to announce.

"Paul O'Grady certainly is a very talented and much-loved presenter who would be a great asset to any channel."

Channel 4 declined to comment on either presenter and said it did not discuss contracts.

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