Graham Norton is ubiquitous in Britain but Australians are catching on, with <i>The Graham Norton Show</i> gaining a growing following.

Graham Norton is ubiquitous in Britain but Australians are catching on, with The Graham Norton Show gaining a growing following.

FOR Graham Norton, interviewing is a dirty word.

He doesn't like it as a classification of what he does, and he has always said he is a bad interviewer.

The buzzword for him is chatting, trying to move beyond the public relations bubble and indulge in a more casual banter. In his opinion, that's more enlightening than anything else.

''It's much more relaxed, I'm not trying to get anything out of people,'' the Irish comedian says. ''Everyone you have on your couch, they're media trained, media savvy … so, in a way, it's more revealing to see how they react with the other guests and what makes them laugh, seeing them in a genuine setting and behaving like anybody at a dinner party or a pub.''

Of course, like all good dinner parties, someone has to take the lead and guide the conversation, a natural skill Norton has spent the past 15 years sharpening. His early, and much more risque, Channel 4 talk shows, So Graham Norton and V Graham Norton, laid the platform for a bawdy and flamboyant brand of humour that ultimately led to a prime-time slot on the BBC.

His trademark couch-sharing approach, something he has carried through from his earliest days of hosting, is part of this everyday setting, waving away the celebrity smokescreen. ''It's easier to do when it's not one-on-one,'' he maintains. ''They can forget themselves a bit more when the spotlight is shared.''

The success of his show week to week hinges on the willingness of his guests to indulge in the format, something that, as host, he can't always guarantee.

''You do get the odd American star who sits there in a bubble, almost refusing to acknowledge that there's anyone else on the couch,'' he says. ''When I stop talking to them and start talking to the other guests, they just sit very still and watch themselves on the monitor. Look out for that.''

Situations such as this aren't new. Pre-planned questions are an inevitability of the genre, and, unsurprisingly, Norton feels the show is at its strongest when the script goes out the window, leaving behind a comedic free-for-all and his own take on ordered chaos.

''My favourite shows are the ones where you just sit down and that road map is thrown away, and the guests really get on and take off, and stories come out that didn't appear in any of the research,'' he says.

''I can just sit back; I'm not in the driver's seat any more, I'm just an audience member.''

Norton, 49, managed to fly under the radar in Australia for some time, but he is practically inescapable in Britain.

Aside from the talk show, he hosts a radio show/podcast for BBC, writes a newspaper column, and is the host of the Eurovision Song Contest, all alongside being the go-to host for Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical reality shows. Australians were really given a full-strength dose of Norton only just more than a year ago when The Graham Norton Show was picked up by Channel Ten.

Its move to Sunday night has meant he follows another British product, Marco Pierre White.

''He kind of scared me and appalled me,'' Norton says of his initial opinion of the chef, ''and then I met him, and he's so lovely. He really takes care of the contestants. The TV executives probably got annoyed that he turned into this mellow, nice man.''

It's a statement typical of Norton, getting beyond the marketing hype to the real person, and it's what he's passionate about. As long as people keep coming to chat with him, Norton will relish playing the dinner party host.

The Graham Norton Show is on Channel Ten on Sunday at 9.30pm.