Graham Norton loses top spot as BBC’s highest paid Irish presenter

BBC Northern Ireland presenter Stephen Nolan replaces chatshow host in annual ranking of highest on-air salaries

Graham Norton: the presenter had earned a £725,000 salary for his weekly radio show before leaving for a commercial rival. Photograph: Christopher Baines/So/BBC

The BBC Northern Ireland host Stephen Nolan has taken Graham Norton’s place as the British broadcaster’s highest-paid Irish presenter. Nolan, who hosts The Stephen Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster each weekday morning and a phone-in on BBC Radio 5 Live each weekend, earned £415,000, or about €490,000, from the corporation in 2021.

Slightly more than he had earned a year earlier, that puts him in fifth place, just ahead of the BBC journalists Huw Edwards and Fiona Bruce, who are each paid £410,000, but well behind the top two earners, Gary Lineker and Zoe Ball. Lineker was paid £1.35 million, or about €1.6 million, for presenting Match of the Day, Sports Personality of the Year, and Euro 2020 on BBC television; Ball earned £980,000, or just under €1.2 million, for hosting the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show each weekday morning.

Norton had been the corporation’s third-highest earner a year earlier, receiving £725,000 for presenting his Saturday-morning show on Radio 2 and hosting BBC’s television coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest. But he then left Radio 2 to join Virgin Radio, in part to avoid having his salary disclosed.

His £725,000 BBC salary in 2020 did not include his multimillion-euro fee for presenting The Graham Norton Show, his Friday-night chatshow, as the annual rankings exclude money presenters earn through production companies that make programmes for the BBC. The Graham Norton Show is made for BBC One by So Television, which Norton cofounded with his production partner Graham Stuart in 1998; they sold the company to ITV Studios in 2012 for £17 million, or about €20 million at current exchange rates.

Stephen Nolan: the host earned £415,000, or about €490,000, from the BBC in 2021

Lineker was the BBC’s top-earning on-air talent for the fifth consecutive year. The 61-year-old pundit and former soccer player first topped the list in 2017-18, with a pay bracket of £1,750,000 to £1,759,999; in 2020 it was announced he had taken a voluntary pay cut as part of BBC cost-saving measures. Zoe Ball’s salary fell for a second consecutive year after she also agreed to a pay cut. It means she is now paid about £4,600, or roughly €5,400, for each edition of her show. — Guardian, agencies

The BBC’s top on-air earners

1. Gary Lineker: £1.35 million

2. Zoe Ball: £980,000

=3. Alan Shearer: £450,000

=3. Steve Wright: £450,000

5. Stephen Nolan: £415,000

=6. Huw Edwards: £410,000

=6. Fiona Bruce: £410,000

=8. Scott Mills: £400,000

=8. Vanessa Feltz: £400,000

10. Greg James: £390,000

11. Ken Bruce: £385,000

12. Lauren Laverne: £380,000

13. Naga Munchetty: £365,000

=14. Amol Rajan: £325,000

=14. George Alagiah: £325,000

=14. Emily Maitlis: £325,000