This week (6th October), Graham welcomes rock legend Bernie Taupin, actress and comedian Catherine Tate, actor and rapper Ashley Walters, brilliant comedian Bill Bailey, and French singer-songwriter Christine and the Queens.
Bernie Taupin says being in the spotlight is tremendous, Catherine Tate keeps an open mind about the paranormal, Ashley Walters says he has huge respect for Top Boy, Bill Bailey plays Candle in the Wind on a Turkish Saz, and Christine and the Queens perform live in the studio.
Bernie, talking about his memoir Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me, and asked about being in the spotlight for a change, he says, “It is fabulous. It is tremendous fun.” Adding, “I lived the same (rock and roll) lifestyle as all my contemporaries, with all the good stuff, but I lived it in the background.”
Explaining his and Elton John’s writing process, he says, “Elton always takes what he is given and never questions what the lyrics are actually about until later in the day when it is all recorded.”
On the success of their songs, he says, “They definitely seem to have legs and keep coming back, which for me is the beauty of them. They seem to be timeless, which I really appreciate.”
Revealing the meaning behind Candle in the Wind, he says, “I liked the title of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book, which is a metaphor for a life snuffed out too soon. At the same time, I saw The Misfits and was fascinated by Montgomery Clift who died young. But then I wondered how many people would know who he was. Even though I didn’t care for Marilyn Monroe, people would think her a much more fragile character and more indicative of the ‘candle in the wind’ so I am glad I went with her. Otherwise, history would have been very different.”
And on the song being re-worked for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, he says, I re-wrote it in half an hour, it wasn’t difficult. I’ve only actually heard it a couple of times – once at the funeral and once in the studio so don’t remember a word of it!”
Catherine talking about her role in West End play The Enfield Haunting, and asked if she believes the 1970’s news story of a child being possessed by a poltergeist was real, she says, “How do any of us know anything. It is more interesting keeping an open mind.”
Asked if it is an ‘edge of the seat’ kind of play, she says, “We haven’t started rehearsing yet but I believe there will be some really scary moments.”
Ashley, talking about his starring role in Top Boy; The Final Chapter, and recalling the show’s beginnings, says, “Channel 4 was brave enough to put it on terrestrial TV when no one else would. When it ended, I couldn’t forget about it so behind the scenes I continued the fight to bring it back. Eventually we were so lucky that Drake saw the YouTube clips, and about a year later Netflix wanted it.” Adding, “I have such huge respect for what the show has done to open doors around the world.”
Having just directed A Thousand Blows, a new period drama, and asked if directing is something he will do more of he says, “It’s always been a love for me, and you can’t act forever.” Adding jokingly, “I also have eight children so I have to make sure I’m thinking ahead!”
Bill, talking about his new tour Thoughtifier, says, “It’s sort of about AI and how the arts are under threat so it’s a kind of clarion call for humanity, the human experience, the random nature of us as people, and the eccentric nature of creativity, which AI can’t do.”
Demonstrating his love of music and unusual instruments, Bill plays his own version of Candle in the Wind on a Turkish Saz.
Christine and the Queens performs To Be Honest live in the studio.
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 6th October 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 (13th October) Graham’s guests include Laura Linney, Dawn French, London Hughes, and the Sugababes
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6th October 2023