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Pop CultureNovember 17, 2017

Why is New Zealand so thirsty for Graham Norton’s big red chair?


Tara Ward does a deep dive into one of New Zealand’s weirdest national obsessions.

There’s something about the Big Red Chair on The Graham Norton Show that pulls New Zealanders towards it. It’s like a giant magnet of truth, sucking the shame and dignity out of our fellow citizens. Resistance is futile.

Week after week, season after season, London-based Kiwis are pulled to The Graham Norton Show to share their most embarrassing anecdotes for our viewing pleasure, and we bloody love them for it.

Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but let me tell you about the time I was out jogging and my mate took a crap in some bushes. See? Hilarious, I tell you!

If you’ve ever wondered how so many Kiwis get to plant their glorious Antipodean loins in this holy grail of televisual symbols, then I have news that will tip you upside down and make you squeal like you just heard a story about an at-home bikini wax gone horribly wrong.

I have uncovered the truth behind our love affair with the Big Red Chair. You’re welcome, New Zealand.

After watching approximately 8000 hours of footage and performing some high-level mathematical wizardry (mostly typing ‘BOOBIES’ into my calculator), the evidence is clear. We are punching above our red chair weight, and I can confirm — with the unmistakable confidence of a man recalling how his friend’s faeces were mistaken for a German Shepherd’s — that the ratio of New Zealanders to Other Humans in the Big Red Chair is officially 345,000,000:1.

This incredible statistic may contain a slight margin of error, but who cares, because Brittany’s got a cracking story about the time her boyfriend pissed in her shoes and OMG what about that guy who fell off the back of his Dad’s ute? Scoff at my sums, but always believe in Dog Poo Dunc and Shoe Piss Brittany, and never, ever stop believing in the Kiwi love for the Big Red Chair.

But what lies behind our fervent embrace of this giant piece of British furniture? How did the Big Red Chair claw its way into our national psyche, and why are we so keen to throw our legs akimbo on worldwide television? How do so many Kiwis swim to Graham Norton’s chat show surface, when there are millions of others in the UK with their own amusing poo-related anecdotes?

These are the questions that keep me awake at night, along with “how do I write ‘legless’ on my Casio?” and “can cats blow bubbles?” Will we ever find the answers? Cats seem pretty amazing, so I’m hopeful.

After dozing in my own red seat of reflection, I’ve come up with some indisputable reasons for the Kiwi obsession with the Big Red Chair. Sit back and enjoy the ride, because the truth is out there and it looks a lot like a kitten typing ‘boogies’ into a calculator.

There are no red chairs in New Zealand

Can’t argue with science.

This Briscoes bargain doesn’t even come close to Graham’s version. The good news is that after a few too many chardies you’ll be tipping backwards on this flimsy piece of tinfoil, no matter how shit-hot your story is.

They thought they were going to the Walkabout for a snakebite

It’s been closed for years, but it’s fine. It’s fine.

Because climbing Mt Everest is too much effort

The Big Red Chair is the perfect overseas experience, since you basically have to do sweet eff all. Nothing to see here, just a New Zealander sitting down, dropping shout-outs to the kiwifruit capital of the world (bloody love you, Catherine of Te Puke).

You’re knocking the bastard off without even breaking a sweat. This is the sort of shit the British Empire was built on, so chuck your photo on the nearest $5 note and build a school in your own name, because WINNING.

Being upside down makes us feel closer to home

Going back down under, AMIRITE NEW ZEALAND.

It’s like being back in the womb

It’s soft, red, and if you listen closely you can hear its heartbeat. You’re safely enveloped within the chair’s warm and velvety goodness, so what better time to share the hilarious tale about being covered in human ashes while an Italian stranger insisted you wore her dead husband’s clothes?

Be reborn, be redeemed, be bloody careful when travelling in Italy during a rainstorm.

It was one of the options in the flag referendum

Red Seat / Red Peak / $26 million well spent, imo.

It’s a directive from Her Majesty

Sitting in the Big Red Chair must be a compulsory part of every UK visa application. Let’s cut down the paperwork by chucking the chair in the Customs hall at Heathrow and really get this show on the road.


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