On The Graham Norton Show, airing Tuesday 5 February 2019 on BBC Brit (DStv Channel 120) at 9pm, Graham welcomes stars of screen and stage, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Kenneth Branagh, world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua, Swedish actor Noomi Rapace, funny man Greg Davies, and singer songwriter Claire Richards.
Judi and Kenneth, talking about working together so often, and asked how much persuasion Judi needs, she says, “All the films I have done with Ken is the same story. He just says, ‘I wonder if you would be interested… and I say ‘Yes,’ and for this one (All is True) I got a call from my agent to say Ken wanted to come down and talk to me about something, and I said, ‘Tell him not to come, I’ll do it.” Kenneth interjects, ‘It is absolutely true. She said, ‘Don’t waste the petrol.'”
Asked which of them knows more Shakespeare, Kenneth says, “Of course she does. When I started paraphrasing his words in the film, she just laughed and finished the end of the scene properly. We kept that in. She definitely knows more than me.”
Revealing her dislike of The Merchant of Venice, she says, “I have never been fond of it. Everyone in it behaves very badly. Against my will I did once play Portia the first year I was married and Mike (her late husband Michael Williams) played Bassanio and I had a speech to him and I made a terrible, terrible mistake. Instead of saying, ‘I speak too long; but ’tis to peize the time,
to eke it and to draw it out in length, to stay you from election.‘ I said ‘Erection.’ The wind band that was about to play put down their instruments and walked off the stage in shock. It caused a lot of unrest!”
Noomi, talking about her latest film, Close, in which she plays a bodyguard, she says, “There was no stunt double, I did them all myself. It was very intense and I hurt myself.”
Asked if, like the character she plays, she is able to blend into the background and go unrecognised, she says, “I was at a dinner party and two guests started discussing Prometheus and saying that the alien creature coming out of Elizabeth Shaw’s stomach was CGI. I said that is definitely wasn’t and when they asked how I knew I said, ‘I was there. It was my tummy. Not being recognised happens a lot. I kind of like it. I am an actor not a celebrity.”
Greg, revealing he auditioned for Prometheus, says, “Someone in my agent’s office called and she was so excited to tell me that Ridley Scott had called about a named part for me. It was all very secret. I went to the audition and everyone was very tall. They wanted me to play a giant alien. All I had to do was walk around a wall and pick up a stone, but I didn’t get the role!”
Talking about hosting the Royal Variety Show he says, “It was a big deal and anyone who’s seen my stand up was as surprised as I was that I was asked. I was very surprised and had to start from scratch as my normal material is pure filth!
Anthony joins Graham for a chat.
Talking about receiving his OBE, he says, “It was a good experience. I had a good time and just took it all in. It was a huge honour.”
Revealing he is in training for his big fight on the 13th April despite not having a confirmed opponent, he says, “The first six weeks of training is about me anyway and then I can study whoever I will fight.” Asked who it might be, he says, “I’d like it to be Deontay Wilder, but he has other options in the States. We’ve made him a great offer but he’s interested in fighting other people. I’m just playing the waiting game.”
Asked if he would like to fight Tyson Fury, he says, “I would love to. He is such a big name and it would be amazing to have two British heavyweights fight.”
Graham challenges Anthony and Greg to see who is the strongest with a fairground ‘test your strength’ machine. As the two very tall men square up to each other Greg says, “It would be very odd if the Heavyweight Champion of the World didn’t beat the biscuit eating comedian.” The unlikely competition also sees Noomi and Judi get in on the act.
Claire performs These Wings from her debut solo album live in the studio, before joining Graham for a chat.
Asked what it is like to have a solo career, she says, “It’s a whole different kettle of fish. It is strange being on stage on my own. I didn’t think it would be, but it is and it takes a bit of getting used to.”
Revealing that she has been booked for a high-profile gig, she says, “I have just found out that I will be supporting Celine Dion in Hyde Park in July. I am so excited. She is my idol.”
And finally, Graham pulls the lever on more foolhardy audience members brave enough to sit in the Big Red Chair.
The Graham Norton Show, BBC BRIT, Tuesday 05 February 9pm.