Graham Nortons feud with Bee Gees star – repulsive comments to on-air swipe

TV host Graham Norton is known for his popular late night chat shows – but one comment he made in 2003 was met with fierce backlash.

On this day in 2003, the presenter made a comment about the late Bee Gees star Maurice Gibb, following his death at the age of 53 years old.

The comment sparked a backlash from viewers and led Maurice's brother, and late Bee Gees star Robin Gibb, to publicly slam Graham Norton as "scum" during a day time chat show appearance.

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Graham Norton soon apologised for the comments, but here, Daily Star takes a look back at the incident and what occurred between the two stars.

'Repulsive' comments

Graham Norton hosted the Channel 4 chat show, V Graham Norton, where he would satarise news stories of the day.

However during an episode of the programme broadcast in 2013, he made a comment about the death of Bee Gees icon Maurice Gibb.

Maurice died at a Miami hospital on January 12, 2003 from a cardiac arrest induced by complications of a twisted intestine, at the age of 53 years old.

Graham could be heard talking about the musician's death, as he said: "I bet Maurice Gibb's heart monitor was singing the tune of Stayin' Alive."

The moment soon sparked a backlash from viewers, with Maurice's brother Robin slamming the TV host at the time for the "repugnant and repulsive" comments.

Viewer complaints

Thirteen viewers submitted complaints to The Independent Television Commission (ITC) following Graham Norton's comments on his talk show.

The ITC reflected on the volume of phone calls they received saying to Digital Spy: "People rarely complain to us about Graham Norton's programme because they know the kind of content he has on.

"We are not driven by the number of complaints [but] will investigate the joke."

Daily Mail reported that The Independent Television Comission later ruled Graham Norton had broken guidelines by offending public feeling and criticised him for making the joke so soon after Maurice Gibb's death.

Robin Gibb slams Graham Norton

Robin Gibb – who sadly died himself from colon cancer in 2012 – appeared on ITV day time talk show This Morning in 2003 and publicly slammed Graham Norton for the comments about his brother Maurice.

Saying he would "never forgive" the presenter, Robin asked for an apology from Graham and Channel 4, saying: "Some very nasty things were said and I want to get them off my chest – in particular Graham Norton, who I used to respect and who I now detest and I think he's scum."

The star continued: "He went on his TV show while my brother was dying in hospital and he said really repugnant and repulsive things about my brother's death process, which even today I still find it hard to recover from.

"This man I will never forgive. It's a small industry and he should hope that he never crosses paths with me because I will rip his head off if I see him."

When This Morning presenter Philip Schofield said Graham Norton would be "mortified" that The Gibb family were upset by the remarks, Robin challenged the comment saying: "He chose to say it, he had the choice to say it.

"I wonder if Graham Norton would have said that about a member of his own family who lay dying in hospital, or would have allowed anyone else to say it?"


Following the backlash over Graham Norton's comments, Channel 4 issued a statement apologising to the Gibb family and saying that the presenter and the broadcaster were sorry for any offence caused.

"Graham Norton's monologue in V Graham Norton satirises the day's news in his own inimitable way. At the start of the monologue Graham did refer to Maurice Gibb's death as sad news," the statement read.

"Graham fully intended this item to be an affectionate reference to the Bee Gees unique and distinctive style of music, and not in any way mocking of his death.

They continued: "There was no intention to cause any offence to the Gibb family and we're genuinely sorry that the comments have caused them upset."

The TV host also added his own apology to the statement, which read: "I did apologise to the family when the issue first arose and I'm very sorry that this apology did not reach the family at the time."

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