After hosting the whole last series of his chat show remotely, Graham Norton’s fans were relieved to see him back in the studio on Friday night.
The 28th series of The Graham Norton Show kicked off with a return to IRL chat – albeit with some major changes to the usual set up.
The usual red sofa was replaced with individual chairs, with guests Rupert Everett, Lolly Adefope and Sara Pascoe sat a safe distance from one another.
There were also video calls from Riz Ahmed and Dolly Parton, who were unable to make it over to the UK due to travel restrictions.
There was also a reduced studio audience who were sat in household bubbles at a two-metre distance from one another while also wearing masks.
The new rules meant that the usual audience capacity was reduced from over 600 to 100.
But despite all the changes, Graham’s return to the studio was a welcome one for viewers...
Thank god Have I Got News for You and Graham Norton Show are back in the studio. Talking heads via webcam got boring quickly.
— Martin 🇪🇺🇬🇧 (@TheLegendOfMart) October 3, 2020
Great to see @TheGNShow back on our screens! Despite the red sofa being replaced by safe distanced armchairs, it worked really well & still had a good vibe thanks of course to @grahnort being such a relaxed pro & great guests in studio & via video 👏🏼🤩 #GrahamNorton
— Kiran Gupta (@kiran_gupta) October 2, 2020
— Roz Downer (@rozzid89) October 2, 2020
SO. DAMN. GOOD to see @grahnort back in the studio with an audience and the rest tonight! interesting change to the set that I really like 😮 even an LG OLED in there!
— Tom (@thomasfoster_) October 2, 2020
— Kel Lahey (@Kel2113Lahey) October 2, 2020
As much as it's nice having guests back in the studio, I think the new studio layout's gonna take a bit of getting used to.
It's great having @TheGNShow back though, as @grahnort always manages to have really good guests on.#TheGrahamNortonShow @BBCOne
— Johnny (@jonathanland91) October 2, 2020
In an interview with Deadline, the show’s executive producer Graham Stuart admitted the last series with Graham hosting from home with guests appearing remotely was just not the same.
“The reason for the success of the show is the relationship between Graham and the guests, the relationship between the guests, and all of this in relation to the audience,” he said. “Graham is such a brilliant and natural performer, he is a showman.
“He achieves this intimacy with the guests and the audience, and if we can get back to just a part of that, we will be closer to what an audience show should be.”
Among the guests joining Graham in the studio and remotely next week are Ewan McGregor, Ashley Banjo and Miley Cyrus.
The Graham Norton Show airs on Fridays at 10.35pm on BBC One.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.