Irish television host Graham Norton has sold his production company So Television to ITV, reportedly netting the Cork-native €12m up front.
Norton founded the UK-based company in 2000 with Graham Stuart, producer of his BBC chat show ‘The Graham Norton Show’. The company has netted profits every year since its establishment, raking in €3.2m at the start of this year alone.
ITV Studios has now acquired the London-based company, of which Norton owns 45 per cent, for a reported €21m (£17m) depending on its performance over the next four years. Ingenious Corporate Finance finalised the deal.
There is speculation the deal paves the way for Norton to make the transition from the BBC to ITV, on which he previously hosted the late night quiz show ‘Carnal Knowledge’ in 1996. Norton is contracted to host his Friday night show on BBC One until 2014.
Speaking of the deal, Norton said: “So TV has been our baby for 12 years, so I’m thrilled that the ITV family has decided to take it under their wing and help it blossom.”
So Television has produced all of Norton’s chat shows since 1998, as well as ‘The Russell Brand’ on Channel 4 in 2004, and ‘The Sarah Millican Television Programme’ in 2012 for BBC Two.
Norton, who was born in Dublin and grew up in Cork, had a brief acting stint in Ireland following his stand up routines. The comedian began his UK career in radio before moving on to guest host a Channel 5 talk show in the 90s, followed by a quiz show on the same channel.
Norton moved to Channel 4 in 1998 where he hosted his own chat shows ‘So Graham Norton’ and ‘V Graham Norton’, and subsequently established So Television. He moved from Channel 4 to BBC Two in 2007, and then to his current position at BBC One in 2009, replacing Jonathan Ross who moved to ITV1. He won his second BAFTA Award in 2012 for Best Entertainment Performance.
ITV1 meanwhile is reportedly reverting back to its original name of ITV in a new rebranding scheme, which will also see the media company alter its yellow and black logo, according to online reports. The changes are expected to be made in January 2013.