Elton John: Uncensored, BBC One

I sometimes wonder if Graham Norton was put on this earth simply to cheer us up, so gleefully does he go about his business and with such impish enthusiasm. Then again if you’re earning £1,857 for every minute of airtime, as Norton reportedly does for his chat show, you’d have good reason for smile when the light turns red.

There might be other reasons too. One would certainly be an invitation to shoot a world exclusive interview with Sir Elton John in a south of France domicile which you know is going to fall into the category of luxurious and well-appointed. It came as no surprise, then, that Elton John: Uncensored opened with a beaming Norton flashing along the Nice seafront in an open top Rolls Royce and looking inordinately pleased with himself. And so the eternally cheerful presenter met the cheerfully eternal pop star for a sit-down in a richly-furnished room and a no-holds-barred chin wag.

Intercutting the verbal to and fro was grainy footage of the singer in his pomp, family photographs of his childhood and early days as pianist, and the odd clip from Rocket Man, the recent biopic. Too often these archive cutaways felt unnecessary. We all know Elton John supports Watford, wore outrageous stage costumes, was balding in the 1970s and made lots of pop videos in the following two decades when, re-thatched, he scored hit after hit. We’ve all seen that BBC Four music documentary, thank you very much.

What we hadn’t heard before were the stories Norton was there to tease out of the singer (not that they needed much teasing) and which would justify the “Uncensored” bit of the programme title. Such as the one about being holed up with John Lennon in a hotel room and bingeing on cocaine when there was a knock at the door. John (Elton, not Lennon) crawled over to peer through the eye hole to see who was there and then crawled back. It was Andy Warhol. “Don’t let him in,” said Lennon. “He always has a camera with him”. Or the one about how John missed a Liberace concert in London because he had chosen that night to come out to his parents – but hadn’t told Liberace, who shone a spotlight on the crowd and said: “Stand up, Elton John, I know you’re there”. Or how he once wet himself on stage in Las Vegas after a prostate operation. Luckily he was wearing nappies so nobody noticed. Told with a raconteur's flair and a self-deprecating wit, they were the kind of tales you could listen to for hours.