Graham Norton Show Guests This Week – Billy Connolly, Sir Lenny Henry, Jodie Whittaker, Tom Daley, Dame Eileen Atkins, Coldplay

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On this week's show (Friday,15th October), Graham welcomes comedy legend Sir Billy Connolly, Doctor Who’s Jodie Whittaker, British Olympic champion diver Tom Daley, acting great Dame Eileen Atkins, comedian and writer Sir Lenny Henry, and the mighty Coldplay. 

Billy, joining Graham from his home in Florida, and talking about his autobiography Windswept & Interesting, reveals the process of putting pen to paper wasn’t easy, “I have lost the ability to write, and it breaks my heart as I used to love writing letters to people.  My writing went down the Swanny and is totally illegible, so I had to find a way to record everything but then the recorder didn’t understand my accent so it kept collapsing and my family would have to sort it – it was a club effort!”

Asked about the title of the book, he says, “The rules of being ‘windswept and interesting’ are doing as you please and not taking lessons from anyone.”

Talking about living with Parkinson’s, he says, “I’m doing okay and have good days and bad days.  It’s creeping up on me and it never let’s go. I walk like a drunk man and have to have help.  So, life is different, but it is good.”

Jodie, starring in her final series of Doctor Who, says, “We finished filming yesterday.  Please don’t go on about it because I will cry.”

Quizzed about the storyline, she says, “I’m not allowed to tell you anything, but I can say the first episode is out on Halloween and it is a six-episode story arc – it’s like a six-hour film and it is amazing.”  

Asked if she has filmed the regeneration scene and knows who the new Doctor is, Jodie says, “They are never going to tell me who it is.  We filmed some scenes, but the new Doctor wasn’t there.  I wasn’t there for Peter (Capaldi), and I only met him months later when I passed him in the street!” 

Eileen, talking about her memoir Will She Do?, says, “I was five when the war started and someone had told my father that he looked like Adolf Hitler and strangely he played up to it with a moustache and slicked down hair.  I thought it was true and was terribly worried about what would happen when he was exposed.  But I also thought about what a good position we would be in if Germany won the war!” 

Explaining why, given her working class background, she only seems to play ‘posh’ roles, Eileen says, “My mother wanted me to play a leading role in Panto but realised I wouldn’t get that with my accent, so she paid someone to teach me to speak ‘properly.’  When Upstairs, Downstairs (a series she co-created) came back I begged to be the cook, but they said I was too posh!”

Tom, showing off his gold Olympic medal and some of his knitting, says, “It’s strange because people used to stop me in the street to talk about diving but now all they want to know about is my knitting!”  

Talking about his memoir Coming Up for Air, he says, “It was interesting to look back over 20 years – the 14-year-old Tom is very different to now.  It’s almost like therapy going back and putting your life on paper.”

Asked if, now he has won gold, he will retire, he says, “I always said I would keep going until I got an Olympic gold medal, or my body gave up on me.  Now that I’ve got my gold medal and I’ve taken a break I miss it and I don’t want to close that door.  I don’t want to rush back, but I don’t want to say I am retiring and then do a comeback – I don’t want to be like a Steps reunion!” 

Lenny, talking about his first young adult novel, The Boy With Wings, says, “It was my Lockdown project and good fun to write.  It’s a sort of superhero origins story – basically I opened my head and poured out everything I remembered about comics.  There is a lot of me in the book – I was bullied at school, and I wish I had those superpowers.”

Asked if the book is part of a bigger plan, he says, “There more books to come.  I enjoyed it so much there’s going to be more.”

Coldplay perform My Universe live in the studio, with a rather star-struck Jodie joining them on stage before Chris joins Graham for a chat.

Asked about collaborating with BTS, Chris says, “It started as a classic social media rumour that I thought would never work but the idea sat in my head for a while and the song just appeared out of nowhere.  It seems like a weird fit but works and it makes me happy.”

Talking more about working with the Korean band, he says, “They are like our little brothers, I love them with a great passion, and we had the best time.  It was so much fun doing it with them.”

And finally, Graham pulls the lever on more foolhardy audience members brave enough to sit in The Big Red Chair.


The Graham Norton Show, BBC One, Friday 15th October and available on BBC iPlayer.


Next week (22nd October) Graham’s guests include Eddie Redmayne, Jessie Buckley, Stephen Merchant, Motsi Mabuse, Elton John and Charlie Puth. 

Graham Norton picture: BBC/So Television/Christopher Baines




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