UK television smartest chat show host Graham Norton has his second memoir book out this month, and he's writing a column on the Mail Online where he shines a light on his own private world. In today's story he reveals how he’s dealt with the biggest divas in showbiz, including the Queen of Pop herself.
Madonna and me - an unrequited love affair!
by Graham Norton
On a recent visit to New York, I was sitting in a bar (there’s a surprise) when two charming young men approached me (that was a surprise). When they asked for a photo with me, I got one of my friends to take it and they seemed pleased.
‘I’m so glad you were nice,’ one confided. ‘The last time we were in the city we were walking down Fifth Avenue and we saw Madonna.
‘We got all excited and started to tell her how much we love her. She never slowed down — just turned her head as she passed, flicked her hair, and said, “Hi and bye”.’
Were they really upset? Isn’t that how they wanted their goddess to behave? Surely we want our divas to act like . . . well, divas.
Nobody does that better than Madonna. She may not be God’’s gift to acting, but when it comes to being Madonna she can do it better than anyone else. She is so convinced she is special that we are all swept along by her tsunami of ambition and need.
When So Graham Norton started on Channel 4 in 1998 she was top of my wish-list of guests, but it would be 14 long years before she was finally ready to perch her perfectly toned buttocks on the edge of my red couch.
There were many conditions. It had to be a special. Yes. She wanted to tape it in the afternoon. Yes. She wanted approval over the music. Yes. I wonder how far we would have gone? What demand could have provoked a no? I couldn’t think of one.
A few weeks before the taping I was invited to meet her at a champagne reception at Claridge’s that would be followed by a screening of her directorial debut, W.E. I waited in an ornate room with a mixture of media people and celebrities. Finally the door opened. The eagle had landed. Trying not to stare, we all stared.
Madonna made her way into the room shaking hands and making brief small talk, like the Queen visiting a toothbrush factory in Sheffield.
A woman in a dark suit appeared at my shoulder. ‘Come with me.’ My mouth went dry and we moved through the sea of bodies till we reached the shining island at the centre of the throng. A pale hand was extended towards me.
‘Congratulations on the film,’ I said.
‘Oh, have you seen it already?’
‘No, I’m seeing it tonight.’
‘Well, save your congratulations till afterwards.’
Seconds in and it was all going wrong but somehow I managed to placate her before she moved on to the next loser.
Someone must have taken a photograph of us during our brief exchange because I have it framed in my house. We’re both grinning, but I’m the one holding a drink and looking about ten years older than her.
I walked back to my friends and the only word I could think of to describe how I felt was ‘high’. After a few moments, the euphoria started to pass and I longed to meet her again. If this is what happens to the people wearing dandruff-drenched anoraks waiting outside theatres and studios, no wonder they come back for more.
Finally, finally, the day of the recording arrived and I was saying out loud: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Madonna!’ and there she was. It was really happening.
The rest of the show is a blur. I remember being nervous and then relaxing. We got the measure of each other and afterwards, as I was busy debriefing with the production team, I got word that I was wanted upstairs. I ran and found Madonna and her ‘people’ making their way down a corridor.
‘Thank you so much!’ I gushed. I began trying to pay her more compliments but she interrupted.
‘I just wanted to say bye,’ she said, doing her very best impression of a regular person. But then, with no words being exchanged, someone came up behind her and slipped her into a fur coat, proving she was anything but.
No friendship developed afterwards. She remained the icy star, me the awestruck fan, our worlds never to collide.
Read the full story on the Mail Online.