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Norton's red couch brings the stars

AAP logoAAP 13/10/2016 Suze Metherell

After nearly two decades interviewing celebrities on the red couch, Graham Norton would be forgiven if his energy levels were waning.

But the talk show host says the chemistry between his guests means he can never quite relax.

"When you get a combination of stars and talents and egos on a couch together, you're never quite sure what is going to happen," Norton said at a press event in London ahead of a new season returning to television sets.

"For good or for bad there is a chemistry that happens on the show and you can never relax - you have to try to keep an eye on it."

However, in a hint for viewers, the wine-quaffing host says if they spot less wine in his glass during a show it meant he was able to "sit back and enjoy my wine and watch it happening".

The show has evolved since it launched in 1998 to become an international hit, but the humble host insists it's his guests, not him, that get people tuning in.

"I can pretend - 'Ooh, my show is so popular' but it's the guests that are popular," Norton said. "When I was growing up in Ireland, if I had been watching my show I would have thought it was impossibly glamorous that these people were in a room talking together."

But his fame is increasing, and he does get recognised on the street, even when on summer holidays in Italy.

"When I was in Umbria, we had a wine tasting, and at the end of it this little old lady came over in her sandals and said to me, 'Stop being so mean to New Zealanders,' and then walked off!

"I think she meant that I was too often mean to people in the show's red chair - but there's always room for New Zealanders on the red chair because they are good at telling stories."

As the show gets bigger, Norton hopes he can pull in more mega-Hollywood stars, the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are on his list, although with the couple's reported split, perhaps that seems less likely.

In the upcoming season Norton said he will talk to Justin Timberlake and Robbie Williams, and hoped Tom Cruise would make a return visit to the red couch.

Graham Norton returns to Network Ten on Friday, October 14.

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