Norton TV firm sold to ITV for £17m

Graham NortonAn independent production company co-founded by Graham Norton has been bought by ITV for up to £17 million as part of its plans to ramp up its own-made content.

So Television was founded by Mr Norton and his business partner Graham Stuart 12 years ago, focusing on comedy and entertainment with hit shows including the Bafta award-winning Graham Norton Show and The Sarah Millican Television Programme.
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ITV has agreed to pay £10 million up front while a further £7 million will be payable depending on performance up to July 2016, but the company refused to say how much Mr Norton could pocket from the deal.
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The acquisition is part of ITV's strategy to grow its Studios division by making more TV both for the domestic market and overseas as it looks to decrease its exposure to the volatile advertising market.

Norton said: "So TV has been our baby for 12 years, so I'm thrilled that the ITV family has decided to take it under their wing and help it blossom."

Mr Stuart, a producer, added: "Now we have the chance to achieve what we've always wanted to in this industry but with real strength and inspiration behind us."

Earlier this year, the BBC recommissioned The Graham Norton Show, which was described as So TV's crown jewel, through to 2014. The series is broadcast in 100 countries.

And The Sarah Millican Television Programme has been recommissioned for a second run, which will kick off with a Christmas special. So TV also produces panel show Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask for Dave, which was recommissioned earlier this year.

ITV Studios managing director Kevin Lygo said: "So Television and Graham Norton have been making high-quality programmes for many years now.

"I believe that ITV Studios can bring scale to their ambitions and together we can continue to keep The Graham Norton Show at the top of its game and increase the amount of new programming in their production slate."

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10 of the weirdest celebrity products
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Norton TV firm sold to ITV for £17m

When it comes to bizarre celebrity products, they don't come much weirder than the Bill Wyman Signature Metal Detector, designed and marketed by the former Rolling Stones bass guitarist.

Apparently, Wyman, who is now in his mid-70s, loves archaeology and has used his own metal detector to find relics in the English countryside dating back to the Roman Empire.

Fans of US president Barack Obama can show their appreciation for the politician by buying a Barack Obama Chia - shaped like the president's head - and growing grass out of the top of it.

And for those who prefer a more historical theme to their garden ornaments, Chias shaped like the heads of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are also available.

Action star Sylvester Stallone put out a protein-infused pudding designed to appeal to fans keen to build muscles like the big man's.

Unfortunately for them, however, the pudding has now been taken off the market.

Heiress Paris Hilton endorses numerous products, ranging from outfits for your dog to hair extensions.

But the most random Paris Hilton product on the market has to be her line of craft supplies, the Creativity Collection, which features items such as stickers and transfers.

Rapper Snoop Dogg's latest business venture is a "smokeable" lyric book.

"Rolling Words: A Smokable Songbook" contains the words to some of Snoop's biggest hits, including "Ain't Nothing But A G'Thang" and "Gin and Juice" - all on cigarette rolling papers.

Hollywood film director David Lynch loves coffee so, of course, he decided to make his own.

Embarrassingly, the tagline on the David Lynch Signature Cup is "It's all in the beans ... and I'm just full of beans."

Former boxer George Foreman's grill is undoubtedly the most successful, random celebrity product of recent years.

The "machine", which claims to reduce the fat content of your meal by 42%, has earned Foreman more than $200 million over the last decade or so.

Supermodel Heidi Klum has her own line of low-fat sweets, which includes Heidi's Yogurt Dessert Cremes and Heidi's Yogurt Fruit Cremes.

Apparently, the design of the sweets is influenced by icons that Klum uses in her text messages to friends. Strange.

Actor Danny DeVito is such a big fan of Italian liquer Limoncello, he decided to launch one of his own.

Called Danny DeVito's Premium Limoncello, the diminutive star claims that it's "like pouring yourself a glass of liquid sunshine straight from Italy's Sorrentine Peninsula".

Steven Seagal made his name leaping around in action films that allowed him to show off his martial arts prowess. But he is also behind an energy drink called Lightning Bolt.

Advertised as being "packed with vitamins and exotic botanicals", it sounds like just the tipple if you are planning to take on 10 armed men with your bare hands.

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