Chat show wars: So old, Graham Norton!

Freddie SayersEditor-in-Chief of YouGov
February 14, 2014, 3:45 PM GMT+0

New YouGov data reveals that, compared to his rival Jonathan Ross, Graham Norton's viewers are much older and more establishment

When So Graham Norton launched on channel 4 in 1998 it was considered a radical new show for the internet generation. He was flamboyantly gay, guests were an eclectic mix of reality TV stars and ageing soap stars and the inventive format involved large doses of audience participation, weird websites and sexual innuendo.

The extent of his journey from alternative upstart to darling of the British establishment is confirmed by a new analysis of the television audience of The Graham Norton Show on BBC1. Compared to Jonathan Ross (his older rival who sticks to a more conventional format) Graham Norton’s audience is now considerably older, posher and more traditional.

The figures are based on an analysis of over 7,000 viewers of the programmes in the most recent 2013/14 series.

Every Friday, nearly half (43%) of Graham Norton’s audience is over 55 years old, compared to just 28% for Jonathan Ross. They are more likely to read a broadsheet newspaper or ‘blue top’ like the Daily Mail, and more likely to be in a higher social grade.

The findings suggest that while Graham Norton may have mellowed out, Jonathan Ross’s public image was permanently altered by the Andrew Sachs controversy of 2008, in which Ross and Russell Brand left intrusive answerphone messages for the then 78 year old actor. Compared to the rest of the nation, his audience contains relatively few old age pensioners, and is stocked instead with younger tabloid readers. It confirms Jonathan Ross’s status as the darling of the Red Tops.

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