Before he became better known as Mr Norton, Graham Walker was born in the village of Clondalkin, near Dublin in Ireland on 4th April, 1963. His father Billy was a sales representative for Guinness, so the Walker family were on the move for much of Graham’s younger years. At the age of 12, he was sent to school in Bandon in County Cork, where he excelled in debating and drama. He was keen to escape school at the earliest opportunity and, at the age of 16, headed off for a job in a pottery – although when this didn’t work out, he ended up peeling apples for a meagre wage in order to make ends meet.
After winning a place at University College, Cork, Graham settled into studying for a degree in English and French. But he found college life lonely, and struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, he dropped out and headed for a commune in San Francisco. After an adventure-filled sojourn in the US, Graham then travelled to London where he secured a place at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Although he started out by training to become an actor, it soon became very obvious that his talents lay in making people laugh instead of impressing them with his Hamlet. In 1992, Graham Norton (as he had now become after a name change to satisfy the British acting trade union Equity) took his one-man show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Making a splash as a drag act, his appearance as tea towel-bedecked Mother Theresa got him noticed and he was nominated for a Perrier Award. His foray into the Fringe provided a springboard into the world of radio and he made a number of appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends. He also went on to play the camp, jolly Father Noel Furlong in the classic priest-based sitcom Father Ted.
But he really hit the jackpot when Five (then Channel 5) launched in the UK in 1997. When the channel’s regular chat show host, Scottish comedian Jack Docherty went on holiday, Norton stepped into his shoes and won an award for his trouble, stealing the best newcomer gong at the British Comedy Awards that year.
He then went on to guest star in the comic quiz Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment and the game show Carnal Knowledge, but topped all of that in 1998 when he joined Channel 4 to present his own cheeky, innuendo-laden show, So Graham Norton. He followed this up with another smash hit in the shape of V Graham Norton, which ran for five nights a week, every week for a considerable period of time.
His success on Channel 4 led to the BBC signing him up to host shows including the Saturday night reality TV offering Strictly Dance Fever, Graham Norton’s Bigger Picture and his own eponymous chat show, The Graham Norton Show. In 2008, it was announced that Norton would also step into Sir Terry Wogan’s shoes as the regular UK presenter of the Eurovision Song Contest.
At the BBC, he added to his reality show host CV by fronting How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do, I’d Do Anything, and Over the Rainbow alongside West End musical legend Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. In 2009, Graham hit London’s West End himself, starring in the cult musical La Cage Aux Folles.
Karl Pilkington is a Manchester-born radio producer, author, presenter, actor and general round-headed buffoon.
Karl left school at 15 without his exam results (Ricky Gervais later revealed live on radio that he got an E for history, although Karl can’t actually recall taking the exam) and went through several jobs. One such role was a printer, working 24-hour shifts pressing CDs. He partly attributes his baldness to this gruelling schedule.
Eventually he found gainful employment as a producer at the radio station XFM. It was there that he first crossed paths with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, a writer-producer team who was causing waves with their groundbreaking mockumentary sitcom, The Office.
Working as producer of The Ricky Gervais show, at first he merely "pressed the buttons", but his quirky antics and unique world view soon prompted Ricky and Stephen to integrate him into the show and make him a third member of their team.
Karl’s cult hero status quickly elevated and he went on to co-present several BBC 6 Music shows with Russell Brand, host travel documentary An Idiot Abroad and make his acting debut in the Ricky Gervais comedy-drama, Derek. Karl has also written three books.
After a decade as a radio producer, Karl left XFM, taking with him a digital camera, which was his leaving gift and is now his girlfriend’s after he gave it to her for a Christmas present.
It's fair to say Stephen Fry is a man of many, many talents.
The versatile genius has earned great fame as an actor, author, poet, comedian, director, activist and television and radio presenter.
Stephen was born in 1957 and had a troubled childhood and adolescence, which saw him expelled from two schools and imprisoned for three months for credit card fraud. After resuming his studies upon his release, he then went on to secure a place at Queens' College, Cambridge to major in English literature.
It was here that he met lifelong friend and comedy partner, Hugh Laurie. They soon began to seen as a comedy double act and together, they co-wrote and co-starred in hits A Bit of Fry & Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster.
Stephen has appeared in a number of comedy television series including Alfresco, Blackadder and Absolute Power to name a few. But his talents extend towards serious drama too. He has appeared in legal drama Kingdom, popular American series Bones, and in 2014, alongside Keifer Sutherland in 24: Live Another Day.
Since making his film debut in The Good Father in 1985, Stephen has continued to make regular film appearances, achieving much critical acclaim for his role as Oscar Wilde in Wilde. In 2003 he made his directorial debut with Bright Young Things, an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies.
As a stage actor he has performed in Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On and has appeared as Malvolio in Twelfth Night at Shakespeare's Globe. In 1984, his adaptation of the musical Me and My Girl enjoyed lengthy runs on Broadway and in the West End, and won him a Drama Circle award and a Tony nomination.
Lee Gordon McKillop, known as Lee Mack, is an English stand-up comedian and actor.
He’s best known for writing and starring in the sitcom Not Going Out, and for presenting the comedy panel shows Duck Quacks Don’t Echo and Would I Lie to You? Lee has also been a regular panellist on Have I Got News For You, QI and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
Before achieving fame Lee worked in a bingo hall and was a stable boy for several famous horses, including the Grand National champion Red Rum.
His first open mic show was in 1994, while he was studying television and drama at Brunel University London. Within 18 months, Lee was a full-time comedian.
Lee lives in Surrey, England with his wife Tara, who he married in 2005. The couple have three children.