Graham Norton meets Kenneth Branagh Vicky McClure Rachel Zegler Rose Matafeo and Emeli Sandé

The Graham Norton Show continues Tuesday 1st February at 8pm on BBC Brit where Graham welcomes actor and director Kenneth Branagh, Line of Duty star Vicky McClureRachel Zegler, star of new film adaptation of West Side Story, comedian Rose Matafeo, and Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandeì.

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Kenneth, talking about his acclaimed movie Belfast, and asked what prompted him to tell the story now, says, “During lockdown everything became about re-establishing human connection.  That sent me right back to my childhood at a very uncertain time in Northern Ireland and the need for human contact, for laughter and dance, and all the daftness we could grab at a dark time, and I tried to write it as truthfully as I could.”

Asked about working with Judi Dench again, he says, “We have worked together 12 times now.  We’ve practically done everything; we’ve been married, I’ve been her son, she’s now my grandmother in this film – it’s like the incest theatre company!”  Adding, “I did a complete read through for her before she agreed to do the part and about halfway through, I got very emotional and got choked up.  She held the pause while I composed myself and then said, ‘I would be delighted to do it.’”

Kenneth Branagh

Recalling the only stage performance of his that his own grandmother saw, Kenneth says, “It took a lot to get her to leave Ireland, but we finally persuaded her.  I was playing St Francis of Assisi and had to be ‘reborn’ naked.  My granny was in the front row with opera glasses, but I really went for it.  When someone at the back shouted, ‘I’ve seen more meat on a dirty fork,’ my grandmother stood up, turned around and said to him, ‘Use the binoculars – it’s like a hot dog!’  she was always protecting me!”

Vicky talking about new drama Trigger Point and asked how much harder it is being the main character rather than being part of the Line of Duty ensemble, says, “It really took me by surprise – I felt like a crew member by the end because I had to be in every day.  When Martin and Adrian had an interrogation scene, I knew I could have four days off!  It wasn’t the case in this show, but I was really up for it and the challenges I got were amazing.”

Asked about the endless tension in the six-part storyline, she says, “Trust me, the audience has a ride to go on.  It is very stressful.”

Rachel, talking about her very first film role playing Maria in Steven Spielberg’s new film adaptation of West Side Story, says, “It’s so cool and unlike anything I could have imagined.  It is definitely a baptism by fire.  I’ve seen the film nine times and that is enough for me as I find it very hard seeing and hearing myself on screen, but I am very proud of what we did.”

Asked about getting the part, which she describes as, “A fairy-tale come true,” she says, “I manifested working on the film – I always had a picture of the original film in my locker at high school.  30,000 people went for the role, and I had nine auditions – no job is worth that but this one was!”  Adding, “The one thing I asked Steven Spielberg for when I got the part was to still do my senior school musical production of Shrek and he said yes!”

Rose talking about BBC Three’s hit comedy Starstruck, which returns for a second series, says, “I didn’t base it on anything in particular and it isn’t about me.  I am a romcom freak, a huge fan of the genre, and I wanted to write something warm and nice to watch, but slightly more realistic.  I describe it as fan-fiction that went way too far, got commissioned and turned into a television show!”

Asked if she has turned her back on stand-up, she says, “I love it and have done it since I was 15 so I feel I am never not going to do it, but it is horrible and nerve wracking and I’ve decided I don’t want to have opinions anymore.  Stand-up is all about opinions and it is so tiring and boring!”

Emeli performs her new single Brighter Days live in the studio before joining graham for a chat.

Emeli Sandé

Talking about her forthcoming album, she says, “It’s the first time I have had a say in the production, and it’s been nice to make something more independently and definitely have my fingerprint on everything.”

Asked about touring, she says, “We have a UK tour which should be sometime in the summer. I am excited to be out there with the band making people happy.  Lockdown made me appreciate getting back on stage and making that connection with the audience.”

And finally, Graham pulls the lever on more foolhardy audience members brave enough to sit in The Big Red Chair.

 The Graham Norton Show, BBC Brit, Tuesday 1st February.

Image Courtesy: Supplied