Lorraine Kelly: Graham Norton brings up tax drama after ‘actress’ controversy

Lorraine Kelly, 59, hit headlines earlier this year after winning her £1.2 million tax case against HMRC. The ITV presenter sent Twitter into meltdown after the tax tribunal judge ruled she was an actress of sorts, a “theatrical artist” who portrayed a “persona of herself” on screen. In an interview with this week’s Radio Times, BBC favourite Graham Norton cited the controversial event when he was asked about his own on-screen persona. Graham revealed he had once hosted a show, I’d Do Anything, back in 2008, while his mother was in intensive care in hospital.

“If the audience had known that I wasn’t sure my mother was going to be alive by the time I got off set, they’d have thought, ‘He’s a monster,’”  he told the publication.

Asked whether he liked that about himself, that he could leave his mothers side for work when she was seriously ill, he said: “It is slightly unsettling, a startling disconnect that you can do that.

“If I’d interviewed Robert Mugabe and was telling him, ‘Ooh, I love your suit,’ I probably wouldn’t like myself. But if you’re just doing your job to the best of your ability, I don’t think that’s a bad quality,” he insisted.

Working up to the debate surrounding the concept of Lorraine Kelly as an actress, Graham continued: “If an actor went on and did a show, people would understand more because they’ve learnt the lines and they’re not themselves, but I’m supposedly myself.

“In fact, not to go down the Lorraine Kelly route, I have learnt the lines and I’m not really myself,” he added. 

“I’m a man in a shiny suit saying, ‘Next up is Somerset Nancy.’”

Having had a cheeky dig at Lorraine, Graham went on to insist that, for TV stars in his position “having a smile on your face when you leave the house is akin to washing”, saying it was a simple case of politeness.

Back in March, the judge ruled Lorraine was a “self-employed star” after she appealed her tax bill.

“We did not accept that Ms Kelly simply appeared as herself,” they said. “We were satisfied that Ms Kelly presents a prison of herself, she presents herself as a brand and that is the brand ITV sought when engaging her.

“All parts of the show [Lorraine] are a performance, the act being to perform the role of a friendly, chatty and fun personality.

“We should make clear we do not doubt that Ms Kelly is an entertaining lady but the point is that for the time Ms Kelly is contracted to perform on air she is public ‘Lorraine Kelly’,” the judge said.

Lorraine Kelly tax: Graham Norton was interviewed by Radio Times [RADIO TIMES]

“She may not like the guest she interviews, she may not like the food she eats, she may not like the film she viewed but that is where the performance lies.”

Lorraine had received a bill of nearly £900,000 in income tax and over £300,000 in national insurance contributions in 2016.

The judge ruling the ITV host could be described as a “theatrical artist” also meant payments to her agent were allowed as a tax-deductible expense.

At the time, an HMRC spokesperson said it was “disappointed” with the decision, adding: “We will carefully consider the outcome of the tribunal before deciding whether to appeal.”

Read the full interview with Graham Norton in this week’s Radio Times – out now.

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