With award-winning premieres and returning series of well-known favourites, BBC Entertainment showcases seductive new contemporary drama and thrilling crime series, along with classic and cutting-edge comedy.
BBC Entertainment is also the home of firm favourites such as The Graham Norton Show, Top Gear and the award-winning series, Sherlock and Downton Abbey.
Jeremy Clarkson trained as a journalist on the Rotherham Advertiser before forming the Motoring Press Agency in 1984, and going on to become a columnist for Performance Car and Esquire magazines.
He originally joined Top Gear in 1989 and became a vital part of the show thanks to his unique and irreverent style. During his television career he has written and presented many other programmes, including Jeremy Clarkson’s Motorworld, Speed, Meet The Neighbours and two series of his chat show, simply called Clarkson.
Jeremy also wrote and presented the critically acclaimed documentaries For Valour, Greatest Raid Of All Time and PQ 17 – An Arctic Convoy Disaster.
In 2002 he was instrumental in the reinvention of Top Gear with a brand new format, which quickly became a huge success in the UK and around the world.
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.
Richard Hammond began his broadcasting career in radio, working at many BBC local stations including BBC North, BBC Radio York, BBC Radio Leeds, and BBC Radio Cumbria, where his duties included covering the legendary ‘lamb bank’ slot.
From there, Richard moved into television, hosting a range of petrolheaded shows including Motorweek, Better Cars and ITV’s Motor Show. In 2002 Richard joined Jeremy Clarkson to front the reinvention of Top Gear.
Richard has subsequently hosted a range of other TV programmes including the Tomorrow’s World-meets-Jackass science show Brainiac, documentaries The Gunpowder Plot: Exploding the Legend and Timewatch – Bloody Omaha and knockabout kids’ science series Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab, for which he later won a children’s BAFTA.
Richard continues to host more adult-orientated science programmes including Invisible Worlds, Journey To The Centre of the Planet, Journey To The Bottom Of The Ocean, Naked Earth, Engineering Connections, Miracles Of Nature and Wild Weather. He has also made the move onto US television with the BBC America series, Crash Course.
Alongside his many television roles, Richard is a weekly columnist for The Daily Mirror newspaper and a contributor to Top Gear Magazine.
James May holds a degree in music, yet has based much of his career around cars. He started his automotive career in print, first at Autocar then CAR and finally Top Gear magazine before moving into television, co-presenting the Channel 4 series Driven and then, in 1999, moving on to the original format of Top Gear.
James joined the new Top Gear in 2003, bringing with him a unique love of very old luxury cars and very basic modern cars, as well as a stout knowledge of motorcycles, aeroplanes and the piano.
Away from Top Gear, James has presented a range of programmes including Man Lab, James May’s Toy Stories, two series of the popular Oz & James’s Big Wine Adventure and the follow-up, Oz & James Drink To Britain, and the acclaimed documentary, James May At The Edge Of Space.
James continues to write for print, notably as a columnist and contributor for Top Gear magazine.