Television legend Sir Michael Parkinson has died at the age of 88. Best known for his self-titled talk show Parkinson, the Cudworth-born broadcaster was a mainstay of British TV and was considered a national treasure. The presenter’s friendly, laid-back personality immediately put people at ease and he was able to strike up a conversation with some of the world’s most famous people.
Legends such as David Bowie, George Best, Muhammad Ali, John Lennon, and Anthony Hopkins appeared on his show, and its slot on ITV was household viewing. Tributes soon poured in for ‘Parky’ and his loss brings an end to a truly golden age of British television. Before Graham Norton, Jonathan Ross, Jimmy Kimmel, there was Michael Parkinson, and his effortless presenting style remains unrivaled. Talk shows may be more flashy and elaborate now, but the homely nature and laid-back presentation of Parkinson was what made it such a comfortable watch.
Despite interviewing some of the most bombastic personalities in show business, Michael Parkinson always said that his favourite-ever interview was conducted with philosopher Jacob Bronoswki in 1973 – saying his description of Auschwitz (where many members of Bronoswki’s family died) as his show’s most memorable moment. Parkinson’s loss reminds us that he was more than a mere broadcast journalist as his long-running show provided entertainment for millions of people. His interviews have given comfort to those without a friend, watching them on the sofa in the evenings and making them forget their troubles for a while. A true stalwart of British television, it’ll feel strange never seeing Michael Parkinson give another interview again.
Sir Stephen Fry paid tribute to the late host, saying: ‘’The genius of Parky was that unlike most people (and most of his guests, me included) he was always 100% himself. On camera and off. ‘Authentic’ is the word I suppose.’’ Sir David Attenbrough, himself a television legend, said: ‘’With Michael, it was always friendly, always thorough, always intelligent, always a pleasure to do it, and I think that came over no matter who his interviewee was, before adding: ‘’”He always did his homework, he always knew what the interesting bits were, and he steered you through.” The tributes will continue to pour in as the sun sets on a seven-decade career on the small screen.
Michael Parkinson may be gone, but the legacy he leaves will never be erased. Parkinson was essential viewing whenever the TV guide delighted me with a reminder that his show was on. He was truly an iconic figure in British broadcasting and it’s my wish that every new and emerging face on television looks to his wonderful style and charm as inspiration of how to be a proper broadcaster.