Graham Norton signs off first show as weekend host on Virgin Radio

Graham Norton has signed off his first show as a weekend host at Virgin Radio after promising listeners they should expect the “same old me”.

The chat show host, who left BBC Radio 2 in December after a decade on air, kicked off his new slot with a song by “the original virgin” – Hung Up by Madonna.

The 57-year-old has followed in the footsteps of ex-Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans in joining Virgin Radio, and Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman is replacing him in his former slot.

Starting his show on Saturday morning, Norton thanked early morning presenter Amy Voce for her glowing introduction.

He said: “Yes, that is my name. Thank you very much to Amy for the last few hours.

“So this is it. New station, new year, new show. Sadly, same old me, as the jingle indicated.

“I am Graham Norton and I am here for the next three hours or so and tomorrow as well – fair warning.

“So what have we got? We have got some rambling chat, a couple of guests and of course some great music. Let’s kick off with the original virgin.”

He was joined by long-standing presenting partner Maria McErlane, who is known for co-hosting the Grill Graham agony aunt segment on Radio 2.

They tackled the problems of his new Virgin Radio listeners as part of Graham’s Guide, helping siblings settle a Christmas dispute.

A new segment saw listeners challenged to guess the name of celebrity guest who had appeared on one of Norton’s chat shows since the 1990s, through only a short audio clip of them being interviewed.

He also debuted a new catchphrase for the show – “Top of the tower, top of the hour” – in reference to the radio station’s location in London Bridge.

Cold Feet actress Fay Ripley joined the show to discuss her role as a team captain on Paul Sinha’s TV Showdown.

Graham Norton on Virgin Radio
Graham Norton on Virgin Radio

Elsewhere, Ralf Little from Death In Paradise jokingly invited Norton on to the BBC show to play one of the murder victims.

Norton revealed that his mother had tuned in after some initial problems with her smart speaker.

He said: “Good news. My mother has been in touch and she says she can hear me loud and clear – and it’s not often she can hear me loud and clear.”

There was also excitement from Norton at being in control of the buttons on his studio desk, after years at the BBC having an assistant in command.

“You know I am pressing the buttons,” he told McErlane.

“This is me running before I can walk. I am going to try and create a brand new jingle for you.”

She replied: “That has given me all the feels Graham. I am crying here.”

Maria McErlane on Virgin Radio
Maria McErlane on Virgin Radio

Signing off after three hours, he told listeners: “That is nearly the end of our first show at Virgin Radio UK. I will be back tomorrow bright and early at 9.30. I hope you can join me.”

He closed the programme by playing If You’re Over Me by Years & Years.

Norton’s other selections on the show included Tonight Is The Night by McFly and Summer Of ’69 by Bryan Adams.

He broadcast his final Radio 2 programme from London’s Wogan House in December – 10 years after his first Saturday morning show for the station.

Norton joined Radio 2 in 2010 to host the 10am to 1pm slot on Saturdays, taking over from Jonathan Ross.

Figures released in September showed he was among the top earners at the broadcaster and he took about £725,000 home for his Radio 2 show and some TV work, but not his BBC One chat show.

Graham Norton is on Virgin Radio on Saturday and Sunday from 9.30am to 12.30pm.