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TV star baffled by gay marriage view in Oz

AAP logoAAP 12/09/2016 By Suze Metherell

UK TV star Graham Norton has accused Australia of being arcane over its reluctance to legalise gay marriage.

Speaking at a press event ahead of the launch of the new season of his eponymous chat show that will air on the Ten Network, Norton said 30 years ago it would have been unthinkable for his homeland, Ireland, to have gay marriage.

"I think Ireland is a very optimistic story it's a very hopeful story because the Ireland I left in the early 80s you could never ever predicted that that country and those people would have voted for gay people to vote for the right to marry."

And the comedian can't quite understand why Australia is dragging the chain.

"Australia does seem Billy bonkers about it. Here is a country that is so gay friendly and the pink dollar is huge for you guys, it baffles me that you don't have it yet.

"Because you would think that Australia would have led the world in something like that because Australia is very good at promoting itself as this young modern democracy.

"Yet you've got this really arcane thing going on that America, which is so slow about change, that even they've managed it. It's peculiar."

Earlier this year Norton took a dig at Australia for entering the Eurovision Song Contest, saying the European singing contest should "get rid of Australia".

But the host of the BBC's coverage of the event has softened his tone, conceding Australian contestant Dami Im's performance was "very good".

"I think it's much harder to explain why it [Australia] is in the Eurovision but I don't actually care. And if Australia are that keen to be in it, knock yourselves out be in it - you may tire of it."

The singing contest now screens in China, so what would be his reaction if China wanted to get in on the action too?

"Eurovision is a wonderful thing, but one thing it doesn't need is any more songs in it," Norton said.

"No one at the end of Eurovision goes: 'if only that had been longer'.

"For me I find Eurovision a very optimistic way of looking at the peoples of Europe in that they vote in a very nice way and not in a jaundiced, prejudiced way."

Norton's chat show has been running for nearly two decades, and he says he is still excited by it.

"'We're heading into our 19th year and most shows in that time would have had their peak and now we'd be on our way down and I'd be on some satellite channel talking to people wherever, the back of a taxi."

But viewers aren't tuning in and coming to the join the 600-strong studio audience for him, he says, it's pulling the big stars that has ensured the show's enduring popularity.

"That is a kind of pressure on us now - once you start delivering those big names you've got to keep delivering them otherwise people kind of think 'oh that show is not good as it used to be'."

Justin Timberlake and Robbie Williams will be guests on his first show in the season to air, and Norton hopes Tom Cruise would return to the red couch this season.

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