Graham Norton took a slight sabbatical from hosting his chat show to attend this year’s Eurovision Contest. While away, he entrusted comedian and actor Jack Whitehall to run the show — literally — and take charge of the Red Chair lever.
Here’s a preview of what to expect of tonight’s episode (Friday, May 24) and how Whitehall handled himself when a sassy guest called him out whilst telling a candid story in the Red Chair:
If Norton is confident enough to hand over Graham Norton Show responsibilities to Whitehall, he must be a standup guy. Here are 10 reasons it’s worth getting to know this talent a bit better:
1. He does stand-up.
He’s a stand-up comedian. He began performing in front of live audiences during a gap year between high school and university. One of his first legit performances was in 2009 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he presented his one-man show “Nearly Rebellious.” A lot of his material is pulled from his self-described posh upbringing, hence the “nearly” rebellious, but not quite. His starting off at an early age paid off, with him being named the King of Comedy by the British Comedy Awards in 2012. He’s since performed at the world-famous Apollo Theater in NYC’s Harlem. In addition to live performances, he’s done stand-up on numerous British TV programs like James Corden’s World Cup Live, Stand Up for the Week, and Alan Carr’s New Year Specstacular.
2. He’s an actor.
Whitehall worked as a child actor, starring in 1997’s TV series Noah’s Arc, at the age of nine. He took a break to polish up his stand-up career in his late teens. Then it got to the point that the two overlapped, with him taking on comedic acting roles like in the sitcom Fresh Meat (2011-2016). The series was based on first year university students, otherwise known as freshman, aka, fresh meat. In 2012 he starred in the TV series Bad Education, which he co-wrote with Freddy Syborn. Whitehall played a young teacher who is described as “the worst teacher ever to grace the British educational system.” If you’re going to fail, at least be the best at it. In 2015, a movie based on the series came out called The Bad Education Movie. You may have seen his recent appearance, playing himself opposite his father, in the 2017 Netflix series Travels with My Father.
3. He’s a presenter.
Being a comedian and actor makes him the ideal fit for… presenting. Whitehall has had a number of gigs presenting popular shows like 2009’s Celebrity Big Brother Big Mouth, 2011’s Comic Relief: Red Nose Day, Have I Got News for You (2011-2013), Backchat (2013-2015) and Sunday Night at the Palladium (2014-2017). As well, he just hosted the 2019 BRIT Awards this past February. Prior to this year’s event, he had also hosted in 2018, 2013 and 2012. He can handle himself at a podium.
4. He’s been to The Graham Norton Show before.
Whitehall made his first appearance on the Graham Norton Show in 2010, and has appeared eight times total since then. Being a regular guest, he knows his way around the studio, making him a prime candidate to host. One of our favorite moments was in 2016, when sharing the couch with Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy. Lawrence started off a story, relaying a run-in with Harrison Ford at an awards dinner. She went over to say hi and she got “blanked,” with Harrison not knowing who she was. Whitehall finished off the story, who was at the same dinner, recapping what happened when he himself went over to greet Harrison.
5. He has a distinct voice.
In a 2018 performance at The Apollo, he starts off with, “People have begun to ask me, they say, ‘Jack, you’ve done a bit of this, you’ve done a bit of that, do you ever get recognized??'” He points out his voice is unique — which he’s lent to projects like 2013’s Frozen and the animated series Thunderbirds Are Go (2015-2016) — and relied on it when asking young guys at the cinema to keep it down. The lads did not take it well and responded, “Shut up, Downton Abbey.” While the teen moviegoers didn’t know who he was, The Apollo seats over 1,000 people, and the above clip has been viewed by over a million people. They probably know now!?
Do you want more Jack Whitehall?? You’re all set — he’s hosting The Graham Norton Show tonight, Friday, May 24 at 11/10c on BBC America.
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