Winner of portrait competition is Graham Norton’s third cousin

Graham Norton
Graham Norton

An artist who won a commission to paint a portrait of Graham Norton for a national display has discovered he is the TV presenter’s third cousin.

Gareth Reid said he could not “quite take in the chances” of the pair being related when they met to make a start on the project.

The Irish artist won the £10,000 commission after beating 54 international hopefuls to be crowned Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2017.

He said: “I still can’t quite take in the chances of me, out of all the people who entered, getting the opportunity to paint Graham, out all the people they could have chosen, and it turning out we’re third cousins.

“He is genuinely a lovely guy and he took Suzy (Reid’s partner) and me out for dinner after the unveiling... I’m sure we’ll keep in touch in some form.”

Reid said his father knew of the connection but had not thought to mention it until after the competition’s final, broadcast on Tuesday.

“It was vague at that point,” he admitted.

“Some cousins of his thought there was a connection through my granny’s side, the Reynolds in Ballymena, which came to light after Graham featured in the Who Do You Think You Are? programme.”

Research confirmed that Norton’s great-grandfather was James Reynolds and Reid’s great-grandmother was Christina Reynolds, from Ballymena. The two were brother and sister in a family of more than 10.

Reid won the commission after impressing judges of the series, presented by Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell, with his portraits of actress Imelda Staunton and presenter Adrian Chiles.

His finished depiction of Norton will go on display at the National Gallery of Ireland.

Norton previously said of the prize: “The idea of my portrait being in the National Gallery of Ireland is is a huge honour.

“For the winner, I imagine he or she will have mixed emotions - thrilled by winning, but I’m sure that feeling will pass when they find out who their subject is.

“I apologise to the artist and the visitors to the gallery, but a combination of vanity and my mother’s excitement meant I couldn’t refuse.”