Graham Norton has claimed the stars of The Crown were right to receive different salaries because Matt Smith was a ‘better booking’.
Claire Foy, who played the Queen in the acclaimed Netflix drama, sparked a gender pay debate when it was revealed she was paid less than her on-screen husband.
But presenter Norton, 55, said lesser known actors should expect to be paid less than their more famous counterparts.
And, defending his own pay, which dropped from £850,000-£900,000 to just over £600,000 last year, Norton claimed his experience demanded a higher salary.
Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Matt Smith as Prince Philip in Netflix drama The Crown
He said: ‘You know, beginners get paid less. I’ve been presenting a chat show for 20 years. I ought to be earning more than somebody else. Not everybody else, but somebody else.’
Norton’s pay does not include his fees from So Television, which makes the Graham Norton Show and his Radio 2 programme.
The presenter explained that Smith, who played Prince Philip in The Crown, was a well-known name while he ‘didn’t know who Claire Foy was’.
Asked about pay disparity in showbusiness, he said: ‘It’s a bit like with The Crown and the whole hoo-ha of Claire Foy not being paid as much as Matt Smith.
Graham Norton has claimed the stars of The Crown were right to receive different salaries
‘Well, with all respect, Matt Smith had been Doctor Who. He was a name. And he’s earned more. He was a better booking.
I’ve been presenting a chat show for 20 years. I ought to be earning more than somebody else
‘I didn’t know who Claire Foy was. Now, throw money at her: she’s amazing.’
Speaking in The Times, he added that stars should expect to earn less at the beginning of their careers, regardless of gender.
Despite playing the titular character of Queen Elizabeth II, Foy is understood to have received a significantly smaller salary than Smith.
Despite playing the titular character of Queen Elizabeth II, Foy is understood to have received a significantly smaller salary than Smith
Following The Crown’s gender pay fallout, Smith said his Golden Globe-winning co-star should have been paid more than him – branding the disparity a ‘great mistake’.
Smith and Foy attend The Crown premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square in 2016
The Doctor Who star hit out at Netflix bosses for the ‘grave oversight’ as he insisted the actress was the ‘lead in the show’ and she worked ‘the hardest’.
The British actor said: ‘Claire was the lead in the show, she worked the hardest, she should have been paid the most. It was a great mistake.’ ‘
‘It’s dumb. She did the most work, she worked the hardest, honestly every single day.
‘It was representative of the amount of work and how she worked. All you can do is learn from your mistakes and move on.’
Netflix claimed Smith was only paid more for the first seasons as he was a bigger name than Foy at the time of casting.
He added: ‘I didn’t know about it to be honest with you. And I thought it was a mistake, a huge mistake.
‘It was a grave oversight and when we heard about it together we sort of said about trying to amend it really and I have to say that I think Netflix did respond very diligently.’
Producers of the show pledged earlier this year that there will be no gender pay parity for the new cast in season three.
The new series will star Olivia Coleman as the Queen and Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip.