Chat king Graham Norton has revealed he gave up his job as a writer for the Daily Telegraph because the newspaper was a ‘mouthpiece for Boris Johnson’.
Norton wrote the paper’s advice column for 12 years until suddenly leaving his post in 2018.
At the time, he gave no explanation for the move, but he has now revealed his reasons.
The Cork star said: “When I signed up to be their agony aunt, I was aware that it was a right-wing 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 explained that British newspapers are not under the same scrutiny as Americans to be accurate in their publications.
He said: “Another awful thing is the fact they were such a mouthpiece for Boris Johnson, with no fact-checking at all. 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, £250,000 a year. So I just thought, No.”
As one of the BBC’s most recognisable presenters, Norton feels it best to be restrained in his political voice.
He said: “Other people who work for the BBC are very political, but I don’t feel comfortable doing that. I think when you work for the BBC you’re in a slightly different position. Having said that, I do vote and have opinions. I’m not on marches. You wouldn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out who I vote for, but I don’t say who I vote for.”