Textual Analysis of “So Graham Norton” Essay Sample

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“So Graham Norton” is a comedy chat show that incorporates various genres. For example there are element of talk shows and game shows. However the main focus of the programme in terms of time is the chat show based section with two different celebrities. The show is shown at 10:30pm on Channel 4.

Camera Style

The camera seems to pay particular attention to GN. This can be seen in all parts of the show for example during the interview even though the celebrity is talking the camera continues cutting back to GN. This shows the range of facial expressions that GN makes when he reacts to what is being said. Most of the comedy in the show comes from this, if the camera did not keep showing us GN’s reactions not as many people would watch.

There is more use of the audience in most of the shots than in other shows of the same genre. And example of this is that when we see GN address the audience at the start of the programme the camera is positioned behind him so that we can see the audience. This is very different from the parallel point in other talk shows like Parkinson for example. In most chat shows the only real proof we have of the audience’s existence is the noise they make when a guest says something funny. The effect of using the audience so much is that it gives the viewer the feeling that they are in the audience. GN is not talking directly to a camera at any point this s similar to what happens in a live audience. The host couldn’t look directly at all the members of the audience at once.

Various cameras are used to keep track of anything unexpected that happens on the set. An example of something unexpected in this extract is when during the interview someone on the front row coughs. Norton picks up on this and makes some jokes about it. The cameraman has to quickly work out where GN is looking and get the woman into shot so that the viewers at home can see what GN is talking about. This fits in with the point above that a viewer feels like part of the audience. If you were really there when you heard the jokes you would look at the person question. Of course your vision is limited by the view from the camera. It is important therefore that the camera is left free so that it can focus on anything that happens.

Steady-cams are used in the first section of the show. An example of this is when the camera follows GN as he runs round the audience. The camera stays behind him but also manages to get up the stairs indicating that it must be a steady cam and not tracked camera. I think that the main use of this camera is the fact that a normal camera would not be able to get this kind of shot. The reason that this kind of shot is used is because it lets the viewer know that the stories are not pre-planned and spontaneous. If there were a set up camera that could not move the viewer would know that the person had been prepped before hand.

The camera style during the interview is typical of the chat show genre. And example of this in the extract is the celebrity interview. There is extensive use of mid-close ups of each person in the conversation and mid shots of both people at once. This is a sign of the chat show genre and lets people who are skimming through the channels know what they are watching. If the person saw the programme as a chat show they may think “I like chat shows” and carry on watching.


Again we can see the similarities between the editing of GN and the editing in all the mainstream chat shows like Clive Anderson and Parkinson. This can be very clearly seen during the interview with the celebrity. The shot reverse shot that is used is a typical sign of the chat show genre and as mentioned above could keep a viewer that is skimming through the channels.

The editing tries to keep a shot of GN on the screen after each major point. Examples of this can be seen in the “Everybody Up” game. After the person has told the story the editing cuts to GN who is filmed on a separate camera. This separate camera that is always on Norton means that the editing team always have a shot of GN that they can drop into the finished show. The reason that the shots of GN are used so often is because most of the comedy on the show comes not from the material that the audience provides but from GN’s reaction to this. If GN was not shown after every major point we would not see his reaction to the situation and the programme would not be as funny.

There is use of the audience reactions during various bits of the programme. This can be seen at the beginning of the show when each of the members of the audience tells the funny story. Each time there is a big laugh there is a short shot of one member of the audience laughing. This has the same effect as a lot of the points that concern the audience. It makes the viewer at home feel like they are really there because they can see the other people hat are in their position. It may also have the same effect as “canned laughter” in sitcoms. It tells the viewer when the are meant to laugh. Laughter is encouraged because the viewer can see others laughing.

Special FX

There is a very limited use of SFX in the show however they are used quite a lot during the start sequence and just before the 1st guest comes on.

The most common use of the SFX in the titles is to active surreal effects. For example there is no way that a fish could be swimming in a plasma ball. The SFX allow the producers of the show to use lots of surreal effects that could not have otherwise been done.

The show seems to make frequent use of the surreal especially in the opening credits. Examples of this include the shot of the fish swimming in the plasma ball and the pig in the wig and bow. This use of the surreal seems to be used to like the viewer know that the show may have something unexpected in it and this encourages people to stay tuned to see what happens.

The other use of SFX is when it appears that GN is underwater. This is a joke that works because he introducing the actress who had the lead role in the film the deep. This joke is continued as the actress is led down the stairs by male modals in wetsuits and snorkel masks. The effect is achieved by placing GN upside down on a downward sloping blue panel.


Keeping focus on the opening credits we can see that there is lots of innuendo that relies on the viewers sense of humour. The examples of this in the opening credits are the prostitute cards. These each have some kind of sexual advert on them. However the next shot is of the actual situation which is often completely different from what we as the view assume. To take one detailed example. There is an advert that reads “Slave training TV’s welcome” We read this as a prostitute looking for sex slaves transvestites welcome. However when we see what the advert really means we see that it is an advert for a slave to fix TV’s. When we see this we se someone slapping something out of shot. Then when the camera zooms out and we see he is slapping a TV to get better reception. This shows the viewer that that sex is going to be a big part of the show but that the show is not pornographic it is using the sex as a comedy idea.

There are lots of bright colours used in the show. Examples of this are abundant throughout there are very bright pinks and greens used in the title sequence and also in the studio. For example the panel behind Norton at the start has neon green bits in it. This has the effect of giving the show a lively and bright feeling which seems to reflect Norton’s bright and lively personality.

The show is built around Norton. Without him it would not work. Examples of this statement can be seen during the stories in the “Everybody Up” game. One such example is the woman who got stuck with her coat on and nothing else. The woman who is telling the story doesn’t tell the story in a very funny way and in any other situation it would not get much more than a small chuckle. However because Norton picks up on some of the funnier aspects and adds his reaction to the story we laugh much harder. Since this bit of the show is recorded live Norton has to react to whatever material he is given. Since different people would react in different ways the show would not be the same without the same host. This reaction to the things that happen on the set gives the viewer a sense that the show is very personalised. It lets the viewer know that Norton is the HOST in every way. He is entertaining the viewer in his “home”.

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