The 50-year-old ignored BBC orders not to wear the ribbon on his show on 29 November this year – sparking the wrath of BBC chiefs, who outlawed him from wearing the ribbon to highlight World Aids Day on 1 December.
Despite the fact that all of his guests on The Graham Norton Show – Jeremy Clarkson, Jo Brand, Colin Farrell and Sharon Osbourne – were all allowed to, and did, wear the red ribbons – the Irish comic was told not to.
The gay comic, a passionate supporters of Aids charities – including the Elton John Aids foundation – flouted the ban despite being repeatedly told not to wear the ribbon on the popular show.
BBC chiefs, however, rapped the funnyman, saying he had breached BBC guidelines and his production company So Television – now owned by ITV – was criticised for letting him wear the ribbon.
The controversy was raised by BBC news and sports reporter in south-west England Hamish Marshall – who was sent on a BBC training course which said the comic was “in the wrong” for wearing the ribbon.
He said: “During the Safeguarding Values training, an example of practice, ruled as wrong, on the Graham Norton Show was highlighted.
“We were told his guests could wear a red ribbon for World Aids Day but he couldn’t.
“Despite the cynics in our group saying this would be flouted, we were told that, like the rest of us, Graham Norton has to obey the rules – however much he disagrees with them.
“Well, guess what happened last week? Graham Norton wore the red ribbon on his show – a couple of days before World Aids Day.
“Can you ask the powers-that-be what action has, or is, being taken as a result of this (and) is it only ‘talent’ on big contracts who can flout rules if they disagree with them?”
The BBC controller of entertainment commissioning, Mark Linsey, said although it was aware World Aids Day was something “Graham cared passionately about” he should not have worn the ribbon.
He said: “World Aids Day is an issue which Graham cares passionately about and he did wear a World Aids Day insignia on his programme.
“However, this is in breach of BBC guidelines.
“The production company has been contacted and reminded that he cannot do this and Graham has accepted he was wrong to do so.
“The BBC has been assured it will not occur again.”
A BBC source said on Monday: “The whole thing is totally disgraceful – Graham is a well known supporter of Aids charities and there is no way in the world he was not going to wear the ribbon.
“It means so much to him and is very close to his heart and for the BBC to have a go at him is as unbelievable as it is disgusting.
“His guests were all allowed to wear ribbons – even Jeremy Clarkson – so if Graham didn’t wear one, can you imagine how he would feel?”
On 7 November this year, Norton and other celebrities raised more £85,000 for the Terence Higgins Trust charity at a “supper club” event to support people living with HIV.
The Graham Norton Show attracts nearly 3.2 million viewers each week, a 22.6% audience share.
By Alex Fletcher http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/news/a537102/graham-norton-warned-by-bbc-for-wearing-world-aids-day-ribbon.html
Tuesday, December 10th 2013.
Graham Norton has been given a warning by the BBC after he wore a World AIDS Day ribbon on his chat show on November 29.
BBC staff are supposed to stay “independent and distanced from government initiatives, campaigners, charities and their agendas” and BBC entertainment controller Mark Linsey has confirmed that he has reprimanded Norton and his production company So Television over their actions.
“World AIDS Day is an issue which Graham cares passionately about and he did wear a World AIDS Day insignia on his programme,” Linsey told BBC in-house magazine Ariel.
“However, this is in breach of BBC guidelines. The production company has been contacted and reminded that he cannot do this and Graham has accepted he was wrong to do so. The BBC has been assured it will not occur again.”
The only exemption to BBC rules is the poppy, which can be worn to support the Royal British Legion.
The issue was raised by a BBC reporter, who had been told on a training course that the comic was “in the wrong” for sporting the ribbon.
“Can you ask the powers-that-be what action has, or is, being taken as a result of this (and) is it only ‘talent’ on big contracts who can flout rules if they disagree with them?” the reporter asked.