Graham Norton jokes he looks so 'gnarly' and 'old' the paparazzi didn't recognise him on his first day at Virgin Radio

GRAHAM Norton joked he looks so "old" that the paparazzi didn't recognise him as he arrived at Virgin Radio for the first day of his new job.

The 57-year-old quit the BBC after ten years on Radio Two – and is now taking on two weekend shows at Virgin Radio.

"I looked so rough this morning… well either I looked rough or the enormous pictures of me in the lobby here are so airbrushed," he told his new listeners this morning.

"There were paparazzi waiting outside and I walked past them, they must have been like 'that gnarly old man can’t be him, that can’t be the fresh-faced young man on the posters.'"

Graham's guests today included Cold Feet's Fay Ripley who admitted she's put on weight in lockdown.

"I'm now quite fat and I think that being the proof in the ladies pudding, I'm doing nothing but cooking and eating. That's it," she said.

"That now is pretty much my life other than watching telly… I find cooking to be a great release, I just have to find enough people to eat what I cook…

"We've got a WhatsApp group going in our street so there's a lot of takers for leftover brownies."

And she disappointed Cold Feet fans when she said that it's unlikely there will be another series.

"I fear that it is not up to us," she said.

"We all would love to do more but I think it's one of those things that was brought back, it did well but nobody wanted it to just slide off the edge.

"So will they bring it? Probably not. I think probably not."

Ralf Little also appeared and talked about filming Death in Paradise during lockdown and returning to the show.

"We shot the whole thing under Covid-19 protocols," he said.

"We couldn’t believe our luck.

"It was an amazing achievement because we started filming two months after we planned and we still managed to finish it in time to broadcast it at the same time as we would every year…

"I'll be back next year but I don't think I'm signed for the two years."

Despite spending a decade presenting his Radio Two show, this weekend will see Graham have full control for the very first time.

He said: “Here’s my confession – at Radio 2 I was never allowed to touch a button, I was just gloves on, and I’d sit there and talk. So everything happened around me.

"But here, I’m pushing some buttons and it’s pathetic how excited that makes me.

"It’s like that thing when you’ve learned to drive, you’ve passed your test and then you’re on the motorway and you’re like ‘this isn’t illegal…but it should be!’”

Graham, a best-selling author as well as a TV and radio host, told how it was the right time to leave the BBC – because he hated having his pay revealed annually.

His first weekend of Virgin shows will feature Cold Feet’s Fay Ripley, Ralf Little, of Death In Paradise, Location, Location, Location’s Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer, and SAS hardman Ant Middleton.

And alongside his bumper guest list, Graham is hopeful his BBC audience will follow him over to Virgin Radio.

Graham told The Sun: “The show will be very close to what I was doing on Radio 2, playing music and rambling on.

“If you think about having an audience for the weekend, it’s a very different relationship than just having them from Saturday morning.

"It’ll be interesting to find out who that Sunday audience is, what they’re doing. Because on Saturday you’ve got a real sense that people are listening as they do things."

  • The Graham Norton Radio Show is on Saturdays and Sundays, 9:30am-12:30pm. You can listen advert-free on DAB, online, via the free Virgin Radio app or on your smart speaker.

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