'I was a grubby git from Cork': Graham Norton on trying to 'reinvent' himself when he left Ireland

'I was a grubby git from Cork': Graham Norton on trying to 'reinvent' himself when he left Ireland

Bandon’s favourite son, Graham Norton pictured on tonight's episode of The Late Late Show. Picture Andres Poveda

Graham Norton has said that getting older contributed to his decision to marry. The Cork-born BBC presenter tied the knot with Scottish film-maker Jonathan McLeod in July, before 120 guests at Bantry House.

“I never thought I’d get married,” Norton (59) told Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show, where he was promoting his new novel, Forever Home

“There we are: It is something to do with getting older. The vows are easier. ’Till death do us part’ is much more achievable. When you’re 20 it’s a big ask.” 

Norton had previously stated he would never marry. That changed when he met McLeod. 

“Having a string of failed relationships, you appreciate something that is right for you. You don’t take it for granted: ‘Put a ring on it!’” 

He said that he and McLeod had tried to keep the wedding low-key but that rumours were soon circulating around Bantry, nearby Ahakista, where he has a house, and his home town of Bandon.

Graham Norton and Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy. Picture: Andres Poveda
Graham Norton and Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy. Picture: Andres Poveda

“Word got out. The rumour mill [had it that] Elton John was in the pub next to my house. Lady Gaga was coming to town. In SuperValu in Bantry [people saw] ’Adele without make up’. There were a good few snappers — they were very disappointed.” 

Norton spent much of the lockdown in West Cork, broadcasting his Virgin Radio show from the studios of C103 in Bandon. Growing up in Ireland he’d had a chip on his shoulder about the country. But as has matured, his attitudes towards home changed, he told Tubridy.

I couldn’t get out of here fast enough.

“I was busy trying to reinvent myself. If I met another Irish person they would know I was some grubby git from Cork. 

“As you get older, it’s a lovely thing. You want to bump into someone who knows what Wanderly Wagon is.” 

He was on the airwaves in the UK following the death of  Queen Elizabeth II. He was struck by how important she was to people in Britain. It reminded him that, despite living there for 40 years, he was still an Irish person in the UK.

“You realise: This is different. This woman is in their DNA. They’ve been born to know her. ‘Oh wow — I am still, after all these years, an outsider’. It was humbling.”

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