Chat show king Graham Norton had his TV pay slashed by more than a third last year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the £2.069 million (€2.45 million) Norton received in fees, production fees and royalties from production company So Television Ltd in 2020 still makes the 58-year-old the best-paid Irish TV personality by some distance.
New accounts filed by So Television Ltd in the UK show that Norton’s pay last year for presenting the BBC’s Friday night flagship entertainment show, The Graham Norton Show, reduced by 36 per cent or £1.166 million, from £3.23 million in 2019 to £2.069 million.
So Television relies on The Graham Norton Show for the bulk of its revenues and Norton received the swingeing pay cut as revenues at So Television reduced by 21 per cent or £3.04 million, from £14.4 million to £11.39 million.
According to the directors of So Television, the firm’s revenues declined largely due to six fewer episodes of The Graham Norton Show and Blind Date being rested.
The reduced production resulted in So Television producing 31 hours of TV last year, compared to 42 hours in 2019.
During the early stages of the pandemic, The Graham Norton show continued in the absence of a live audience while guests were interviewed by the entertainer over video link.
The directors state that: “The Graham Norton show adapted its content and length during the Covid-19 restrictions, this meant that we had to discount our existing distribution deals.”
The directors said that distribution revenues reduced by £1.5 million due to the reduced number of Graham Norton shows and having to discount any content which was produced during Covid-19 restrictions.
They added: “The Graham Norton Show continues to be popular in the UK and internationally.”
Norton taking the pay cut last year contributed to So Television recording a slight rise in pre-tax profits from £2.32 million in 2019 to £2.4 million last year.
Norton’s TV fees are the entertainer’s main income stream.
However, Norton receives separate fees for his Saturday and Sunday morning shows on Virgin Radio UK. Last December, Norton left BBC Radio 2 after 10 years to present the shows.
Norton’s novels are also bestsellers and his critically-acclaimed works of fiction, Holding, Home Stretch and A Keeper have generated an estimated €5.2 million in sales in Ireland and the UK since 2016 according to Nielsen Book, though the author receives only a small fraction of the sales figure in royalties.
A breakdown of So Television’s 2020 revenues show that £9 million was generated in the UK with £2.38 million generated in ‘rest of world’.
During the current season of his show, Norton has played host to Daniel Craig, Ed Sheeran, Eddie Redmayne and one of Ireland’s brightest stars, Jessie Buckley. In this Friday's show, he is due to interview Bruce Springsteen, Barack Obama and Halle Berry.
Born in Dublin and raised in Bandon, Co Cork, Norton first shot to prominence in 1996 for his part of Father Noel Furlong in 'Father Ted' before he moved to Channel 4 to host his own chat show.
Norton established So Television Ltd with Graham Stuart in 2000. Numbers employed by So Television last year increased by two to 21 and staff costs totalled £1.92 million. Accumulated profits at So Television in December 2020 totalled £21.25 million.