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I WAS STABBED THEN LEFT TO DIE BY MUGGERS; Comic Graham tells of terror on street.

FUNNYMAN Graham Norton told yesterday how he was nearly stabbed to death by two muggers.

The gay television chat show star who was born in Dublin and grew up in Cork is due back in Ireland next week to host a glittering ceremony that represents the Oscars of the Irish advertising industy.

As a student in London he was making his way home late at night from a party at his drama school when the thugs pounced, knifing him in the chest.

Norton, who made acclaimed guest appearances in award-winning comedy series Father Ted, said the gang left him to die on the pavement, bleeding heavily from a wound that just missed his heart.

He said: "It was really quite bad. I could have died there in the street.

"I had just about reached home when these two guys attacked me, beating me over the head with something heavy.

"I didn't know I had been stabbed until I tried to get up off the ground."

The star of I'm Graham Norton on Channel 4 lost half the blood in his body and suffered a collapsed lung, which has only partially recovered from the wound.

Norton, 36, admitted his brush with death 10 years ago had completely changed his outlook on life.

He said it may also have helped him find the fame and fortune he now enjoys.

He said: "I'm less afraid of things now. I don't place the same importance on them.

"If my TV show had failed, I was ready for that.

"People get so fraught about things. I suppose my little mantra is, 'It's only TV'."

His attackers, who have never been caught, ran off as he managed to stumble to a nearby doorway and ring the bell.

Norton said: "They didn't get much from me. There wasn't enough in my wallet to buy even a bus pass."

He went on: "I lay bleeding on the doorstep and a little old lady came out and held my hand.

"I was very frightened when I was fighting it but then when I started passing in and out of consciousness that was quite a nice feeling, really.

"You're not in pain, just very tired, and it's like your life force is draining away. You fight for a bit, then you don't bother.

"Once I was conscious, I could hear a policeman say, 'Oh, we'd better wait for the ambulance. There'll be hell to pay if he clocks it in the back of the van'.

"And I thought, 'Oh, this looks really serious if they think I'm going to die in the back of their van'.

"The next morning the nurse said, 'Do you want us to phone your parents?' and I asked, 'Why, am I going to die?'

"She paused before she answered and I thought, 'Oh, this IS really serious'."

His fellow students arrived in droves to visit him in hospital and loved it - because it was a real drama.

Norton said: "They were turning up by the busload and sitting on the edge of my bed crying."

It took him months to recover and in the early days there were recurring nightmares that left him a nervous wreck.

"It was very traumatic," he said. "When I left hospital after 10 days, typically I didn't go for any help or therapy, so I walked around like a frightened rabbit."

Although the mental scars of his experience have now healed, he said the ordeal will always remain at the back of his mind.
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Author:Leslie, Neil
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 19, 1999
Words:584
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