Graham Norton: I refused £5million from the BBC

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Graham Norton previously turned down a £5million contract with the BBC, it’s been revealed.

The Daily Mail reports of how the gay chat show star refused to be lured from Channel 4 in 2000, in a serialised extract from his new autobiography,

Norton wrote: “The BBC tried to recruit me for quite some time before I signed my first contract with them in 2005.

“As long ago as the autumn of 2000, I remember standing in a dark street outside a restaurant in Tokyo while filming a documentary for Channel 4, listening to a breathless agent on the phone telling me that the BBC had offered me £5 million.

“I turned it down.

“I know that sounds crazy, but I was very happy working where I was and the only thing the corporation seemed to be offering me was money. There were no actual shows for me to do.”

In fact when Norton did finally jump ship to the BBC in 2005, it was for a considerably lower figure.

He wrote: “Four years on, things were very different. I was ready to leave Channel 4 and explore the world of BBC entertainment. The other thing that had changed was the money on offer. It had gone down.

“Even today, although I am paid handsomely, my salary still falls short of that initial offer. I’m not sure where they had found the sack of five million pound coins, but somewhere in the intervening four years they had apparently lost it.”

Norton earned £2.3m in fees and salary last year, a 10% fall, for services including fronting BBC1’s The Graham Norton Show and BBC Radio 2’s Saturday morning programme.

The star took home the payments for “presenter fees, production fees and royalties” from his production company So Television in the year to the end of July 2013.

In its first extract published earlier this week, Norton admits he often drinks to excess, and has previously visited Alcoholics Anonymous, but that he “prefers life” with booze in it.

Graham Norton’s autobiography, The Life And Loves Of A He Devil, will be released on 23 October.