Graham Norton meets Dame Joan Collins, Patrick Stewart, Ralph Fiennes, Bella Ramsey, Layton Williams and Zak Abel

This week (20th October), Graham welcomes star of stage and screen Sir Patrick Stewart, Oscar-nominated Ralph Fiennes, brilliant young actor Bella Ramsey, Strictly sensation Layton Williams, the great Dame Joan Collins, and singer-songwriter Zak Abel.

Sir Patrick Stewart reveals that he didn’t like himself in the first season of Star Trek, Ralph Fiennes says watching himself on screen is quite painful, Bella Ramsey talks about fame, Layton Williams says he hopes he is in the final of Strictly, Dame Joan Collins discusses her early days in Hollywood, and Zak Abel performs live in the studio

Patrick, talking about his memoir Making It So, and asked about the deep dive into his childhood, says, “It was a very different world and the dominant feeling I have about it is that I never even fantasised that my life would be like this. We didn’t have a television or a gramophone, just a radio that was tuned to the Home Service.  My world was books which I read by candlelight in the outside lavatory!” 

Asked about his preparation for the book he reveals, “I watched two whole seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I was very disappointed in my quality and nature of my work in the first series – It was not real enough.  It was very authoritarian and very commanding but was way too stentorian.  It was my stage background, and it didn’t work. In the second series I was much better because I had been working with very good American actors.  I watched what they did and played it with the same openness and freedom.”

Ralph, talking about playing Macbeth in the ground-breaking new staging, says, “I am a great fan of Shakespeare in modern dress.  The language is hard, so I think a contemporary setting makes it more accessible for people.  We also wanted to take it out of the conventional theatre and into some surprising spaces.  We have a war-torn set in a warehouse that the audience will be given a semi-immersion into.”

Talking about watching himself on screen he explains, “I have directed three films that I was acting in and had to watch myself which is quite painful.  It is unnerving but for the benefit of the film you have to put yourself under the microscope along with the other actors.  I learnt a lot about acting for the screen by going through the editing process.  It is very interesting.”

Bella, talking about starring in BBC drama Time, in her first adult role, says, “I look about 14 so this the first time I have played someone my age.  It was also the first time I was on set without my mum being my chaperone.  I stayed on my own in Liverpool, so it was a lot of firsts.  I didn’t go wild, I just watched Finding Nemo – it was key to leaving the role behind.”

Asked about fame and seeing themself on screen, Bella says, “I can watch myself because I disassociate from it being me.  I don’t think about being famous because I don’t feel any different.  I am just so busy, which to me is the only difference.”

Layton, talking about Strictly and being scored a ‘10’, says, “I am enjoying every moment – it was crazy, but I have to calm down because it is not over yet.” 

Explaining that he doesn’t watch his performances, he says, “I don’t.  I trust the judges, take the criticism, and keep it moving.”

Talking about the final, and who will be in it, he says, “It’s the wildest thing, you can be at the top of the leader board, but it is down to the audience, so you never know what will happen, but I hope I will be there.”

Patrick interjects, “We did ballroom dancing at my school and my wife, who is much younger than me and American, never did ballroom dancing so it’s one thing I hold over her!”

Joining Graham for a chat, a very glamourous Dame Joan Collins talks about her new autobiography Behind the Shoulder Pads.

Asked about being so frank about the experiences she had in Hollywood as a young actress, she says, “It was really difficult.  Thanks to the Me Too movement it has all come out into the open now and I think young people are having a better chance of not having to face that. 

“One experience I had was being asked to meet a producer who was in the bath.  He definitely wasn’t playing with his rubber duck when he asked me to get in with him.  When I refused, I was asked to leave, and I didn’t get the part!”

Zac performs his new single Cry, live in the studio, before joining Graham for a chat.

Asked about the long gap between his first and second albums, he says, “I started losing my hearing and it took time out to sort it out – I had to relearn pitch.  I can’t sing as in tune as I used to, but I manage.”

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 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 (27th October) Graham’s guests include Dame Judi Dench, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Whitehall, Jay Blades, and Duran Duran.

For further information please contact Mary Collins 07769 670516 or at 

20th October 2023