Graham Norton meets Michelle Williams, Helena Bonham Carter, Russell T. Davies, Oti Mabuse, Brendan Fraser and Cat Burns

On tonight’s show (20th January), Graham welcomes Hollywood star Michelle Williams, British actor Helena Bonham Carter, writer Russell T Davies, two-time Strictly champion Oti Mabuse, Oscar-tipped actor Brendan Fraser, and singer-songwriter Cat Burns.

Michelle Williams says how proud she is to have spoken out about inequality in the film industry, Helena Bonham Carter describes her new show as a love letter to any actor,

Russell T. Davies talks about his enduring love of Crossroads, Oti Mabuse says she is trying to be calmer, Brendan Fraser jokes about his ‘Brenaissance’, and Cat Burns performs live in the studio

Michelle, talking about being cast as Steven Spielberg’s mother in his new film The Fabelmans, says, “I got a text saying Steven wanted to talk to me and I thought I was reading it wrong.  I was jumping up and down with excitement as only middle-aged people do and then we are on a Zoom, and he is telling me he wants me to play his mom, someone he loved and adored in a film that honours his parents.  It was a good day – one glorious day before the terror of playing the role set in!”

Asked what it was like to watch Steven directing his own story, she says, “It was beautiful.  It was emotional to watch him in such a tender place.  He invited us to come into this vulnerable time in his life which was very generous and brave on his part.”

Talking about speaking out about financial inequality between men and women in the film industry, Michelle says, “It is amazing when you find yourself in the middle of something like that and realise everyone is looking to you.  It wound up being an incredible teaching moment because the disparity was so enormous it really shone a light on women being underpaid in the workplace.  I found myself as the person most able to talk about it and I think when I look back on my life that will be the moment, I am most proud of.  I am very shy but found my voice to stand up and speak out.”

Helena and Russell chat about their latest project Nolly, which portrays the life of Crossroads star Noele Gordon.

Russell, talking about the legendary soap opera says, “The first thing I ever wrote was a script for Crossroads.  I sent it off and they invited me to Birmingham. I was so excited to be there because I loved it so much, but I could see the fear in their eyes when they realised, I was a super fan.   I went away and wrote a proper script and sent it off.  Five days later the show was axed.  I waited 40 years and finally got to write it so got there in the end!”

Helena adds, “The person who would love it the most is Noele Gordon.  She was a wonderful woman.  I wasn’t exactly conscious of who she was but when I read the script it was a gift, a love letter to her and to any actor.  It was beautiful and hilarious. She had guts and was so gallant and told things exactly how they were.  The show is ‘Me Too’ without the sex because she took on the bullies.  Everyone needs a Nolly in their lives.”

Asked if she thinks the industry has got better in terms of men calling the shots, Helena says, “It’s getting better.  We’ve lots of women producers and more women making the decisions, but I think it is still ageist and women get the brunt of that.”

Talking about being back in the world of Doctor Who, Russell says, “I am loving it, loving it so much.  We’ve three specials and then a brand-new doctor, who is amazing.”

Oti, talking about the new series of Dancing on Ice, says, “The first year I was very excited so this year I have a new attitude.  I’m trying to be calm and not too screechy – my role is not to show how excited I am.”

Asked about the complaints the show received about the costume worn by Ekin-Su Culculoglu, she says, “It is so exciting to be part of a show that gets complaints! I thought the outfit was really, really sexy and risk taking is what is important to me.” Adding jokingly, “If I had that body, I would wear less all the time!”

Brendan joins Graham for a chat about his transformative role in The Whale

Talking about portraying a 600lb man and asked if he knew he had the character in him, he says, “It was like nothing I had ever done before.  The prosthetic costume helped enormously because it was designed to obey physics and gravity.  It was cumbersome and appropriately heavy which made the experience of playing the part a lot closer to what it would be like to live in the body of a man that size.    When the costume came off, I could still feel the undulation and I grew to appreciate how strong physically and emotionally a person of that size has to be.”

Asked about people calling this performance his ‘Brenaissance’, he says, “They can call me whatever they want as long as they call me!”

Cat performs her latest single People Pleaser live in the studio before joining Graham for a chat.

Talking about the amazing year she has had, she says, “I don’t really know what happened.  A group of 17-year-old found my song, made TikToks of it and changed my life.”

And finally, Graham pulls the lever on more foolhardy audience members brave enough sit in the world-famous red chair to tell their funniest stories.

The Graham Norton Show, BBC One, Friday 20th January 10.40pm. Also

available on BBC iPlayer.

Notes to editors – All quotes in this release were made during the recording of the show but won’t necessarily appear in the final version.

Next week (27th January) Graham’s guests include Claire Foy, M. Night Shyamalan, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rob Beckett, and Sam Smith.

For further information please contact Mary Collins 07769 670516 or at 

20th January 2023