By Connie Evans, PA Entertainment Reporter
Chat show host Graham Norton has described Will Smith’s behaviour at the Oscars as unacceptable, saying “heckling is acceptable, punching people isn’t”.
During the 2022 Oscars ceremony, the 53-year-old went on stage and slapped the comedian Chris Rock after he made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
Speaking at the Royal Television Society (RTS) Awards, Norton, 58, told the PA news agency: “It’s not acceptable, heckling, yes, heckling is acceptable, punching people isn’t.”
Smith has previously appeared as a guest on Norton’s BBC talk show, The Graham Norton Show, which was nominated for best comedy entertainment show at the RTS Awards.
Norton said Smith was “lovely” when he appeared on the show.
He added: “I say that, but Chris Rock probably has a different opinion.”
When asked if he thought Smith should have his award taken away, Norton said: “I think it’s too late to take it off him now because nothing happened, he sat in the chair and then they cut away as if nothing had happened.
“It was like he’d used his Men In Black memory stick and everyone had forgotten immediately.”
Television presenter AJ Odudu said she was saddened that Smith’s actions “overshadowed” what should have been a career-affirming moment for the King Richard actor, who won the Oscar for best actor minutes after he struck Rock.
Odudu told PA: “If anything, that should have been a really big moment for Will Smith to celebrate, so I actually feel sad that it’s been overshadowed by his actions.
“But he’ll come back, he’ll be in more films and we’ll all get to celebrate him once again.”
Smith has issued a formal apology to Rock via his Instagram.
He described his behaviour at the Academy Awards as “unacceptable and inexcusable” and said he was embarrassed by his actions.
Comedian Tom Allen, who was presenting the RTS awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, also commented on Smith’s behaviour, saying: “I just hope no-one hits me.”