Graham Norton on why so many Kiwis end up in his Red Chair

  • 04/07/2018

Graham Norton's Kiwi connection goes far beyond the Big Red Chair - you could say we're the secret formula behind his phenomenal success.

Not only does The Graham Norton Show's popular storytelling segment seem to feature an uncanny number of Kiwi expats holding court, in 2014 he teamed up with New Zealand vintners Invivo Wines to produce his own plonk, which has gone on to sell in nine countries.

"I must have said in an interview somewhere along the line that I love New Zealand wines, particularly sauvignon blancs," the chat show host told The Project.

"The guys got in touch, offered to give wines to our green room, to our guests, which was clever and good PR because it's famous people drinking your wine.

"Then they took it one step further and said 'would you like to actually put together your own wines for New Zealand?'"

They started with sauvignon, but the range has grown to include rosé, shiraz and prosecco. Norton says he's more "mouth-on" than hands-on, meeting up once a year with Invivo to blend and taste wines.

He admits that the weekly discussions on his famous couch often flow better when his guests have been drinking.

"Booze oils conversation, it oils the wheels of chat. When I walk out at the beginning of the show and I see some glasses of wine on the coffee table, I think 'ooh, this is going to be an alright show'. Whereas if I walk out and see three glasses of water, my heart does slightly sink."

When asked if there's anyone he wouldn't want on his couch, he says anyone with "horrible political views" isn't welcome - and neither are the Kardashians.

"I've got no idea what you could talk to those people about".

Norton has a theory as to why so many of his Red Chair guests are Kiwis.

"I think there must be a similarity between New Zealand storytelling and Irish storytelling, because we're both very good at it.

"It is extraordinary the number of New Zealanders who've ended up in the Red Chair at the end of the show. You're punching above your weight in terms of population."