Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I Am Just Lucky That the Camera Is Kind to Me. with War and Peace in the Bag, Happy Valley Currently Terrifying Viewers and a New Series of Grantchester, James Norton Is Headed for Another Big Year. He Tells KEELEY BOLGER Why He Struggles with His Pin-Up Status and How His Family Keep His Feet on the Ground

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I Am Just Lucky That the Camera Is Kind to Me. with War and Peace in the Bag, Happy Valley Currently Terrifying Viewers and a New Series of Grantchester, James Norton Is Headed for Another Big Year. He Tells KEELEY BOLGER Why He Struggles with His Pin-Up Status and How His Family Keep His Feet on the Ground

Article excerpt

Byline: KEELEY BOLGER

IF EVER James Norton was to become a diva, now would be the time to do so. From the brooding hero of BBC1's recent all-out adaptation of War And Peace and psychopathic Tommy in the chilling Happy Valley, to the spurned blue blood husband of the eponymous heroine in Lady Chatterley's Lover and charming vicar Sidney in ITV's grittier-than-you'd-think Grantchester, he has practically dominated British television over the last two years.

But as much as he is in demand, 30-year-old James, who lives in Peckham in South London, seems unaffected, today treating all the Grantchester crew on set to ice cream as a surprise - and cutting his precious lunch break short to squeeze in interviews.

Outwardly, his star continues to rise, but the actor - who will begin a stint in West End show Bug in March - confesses that he still feels "slightly nervous" that the work will dry up.

"I think it's that thing about being brave to sit and wait, and spend some time making sure that it's the right one," he says, of the never-ending quest to line up jobs.

"People say it must be weird (for me to be having a moment). I don't know why, but nothing really changes," he adds.

"Already, I'm calling my agent every so often, going, 'Should I be getting worried about this year? Can we get an audition or two?' And she's like, 'No, let's wait, wait, wait'."

The son of two teachers, who James notes are the "perfect antidote" to the showbiz circles he now moves in, he counts wild swimming as one of his hobbies and was brought up in Yorkshire, where he attended Ampleforth College.

Despite an interest in acting, he went on to study theology at Cambridge University, and then went travelling before enrolling at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (where he was mentored by Tom Hiddleston: "He's the most hard to contact mentor in the world, he's always so busy!"), where he studied for three years until 2010.

Since then, James has chalked up an impressive roll call of work, beginning with a brief appearance in Carey Mulligan's breakthrough movie An Education, along with the pin-up status, which he says is "weird but flattering".

Mind you, it sounds as though his family can help keep any inflating ego in check. Recalling a lunch for his grandfather's 90th birthday, James reveals how his great-aunt piped up with her thoughts on his looks...

"She goes, 'I don't get it.

You're much better looking on film than you are in real life'," he says with a short laugh. "I'm just lucky the camera's kind."

" He believes his ever-changing hair is the reason he's rarely recognised in public, before admitting that his mum wasn't too happy about him getting a buzz cut for the new series of Happy Valley. "She said, 'Can you not speak to the producers and make it a little bit longer? …

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