Graham Norton on December 4, 2018 in London, England. (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Irish BBC presenter Graham Norton has said he stopped writing his agony aunt column for the Telegraph because of the newspaper’s “toxic” political stance.
Norton, 56, said the paper’s defence of US Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh and publication of articles by Boris Johnson made him feel “nauseous”.
He said: “When I signed up to be their agony aunt, I was aware that it was a rightwing paper and that didn’t bother me, but about a year before I left, it took a turn and there were some things in that paper about which I thought, ‘I cannot be contained within the same pages as this.’
“There was a piece defending Brett Kavanaugh and things president Trump had said about [Kavanaugh’s] accuser, and I just thought, ‘This is toxic.’ And I loved that job; I absolutely adored doing it, but ultimately I didn’t love it enough to be part of that stable.
“I just had to step away, which saddened me, but I was beginning to feel a bit nauseous. It’s a weird thing: these very nice people would say, ‘Oh, I love your column in the Telegraph’ and I’m looking at them thinking, ‘You read the Telegraph?!’ That’s not good, that’s not a happy situation to be in.”
Norton made the comments while doing promo for the latest series of his show, The Graham Norton Show, according to the Guardian.
He quit writing the Telegraph’s agony aunt advice column in December 2018 but had not previously given a reason.
“Another awful thing is the fact they were such a mouthpiece for Boris Johnson with no fact-checking at all,” Norton said.
“He wrote an article where one of his solutions to the Irish problem was to build a bridge between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain and you only need to talk to one engineer to find out that’s it’s not possible: the depth of the ocean, the weather conditions; you cannot do that. So how is he allowed to publish an article in a newspaper suggesting it was possible?
“In America you couldn’t do that. The New York Times or The Washington Post, if they get caught out there’s hell to pay. When I do an interview with an American newspaper, I get all these follow-up calls, asking, ‘Did you say this?’ and ‘Can you just verify the spelling of the surname of the person you mentioned?’ They’re really on it in the way that, no disrespect, we’re not on it here. And when I found out how much they paid him – to do a weekly column he’s paid like a quarter-million a year, so I just thought, no.”
A spokesperson for the Telegraph said: “Graham’s weekly column was widely enjoyed by our readers, and we wish him all the very best with his future plans.”