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Sir Michael Parkinson, CBE (born 28 March 1935) is an English broadcaster and journalist. He presented his interview programme, Parkinson, from 1971 to 1982 and from 1998 to 2007.

Early life

Parkinson, or "Parky" as he is known, was born in the coal mining village of Cudworth in the South Yorkshire Coalfield, near Barnsleymarker, South Yorkshiremarker. The son of a miner, he was educated at Barnsley Grammar Schoolmarker and passed two O-Level: in Art and English Language. He was a club cricketer, and both he and his opening partner at Barnsley Cricket Club, Dickie Bird, had trials for Yorkshire together with Geoffrey Boycott. Parkinson began as a journalist on local newspapers, and his Yorkshiremarker background and accent remain part of his appeal. He worked as a reporter on the Manchester Guardian and later on the Daily Express in London. He was also conscripted into National Service as Britain's youngest army captain and was involved in the Suez Operation in the summer of 1956.



During the 1960s, Parkinson moved into television, working on current affairs programmes for the BBC and Manchestermarker-based Granada Television. As of December 2008, Parkinson held 458 credits as a presenter on his own and with others.

From 1969 he presented Granada's Cinema, a late-night film review programme, (which included his first star interview with Laurence Olivier), before in 1971 presenting his eponymous BBC series. Parkinson ran until 1982 and from 1998 until December 2007, leaving the BBC for ITV1 partway through the second run. It featured celebrities but avoided posing confrontational questions. By his own reckoning, Parkinson interviewed 2,000 of the world's most famous people.

In October 2003, Parkinson had a controversial interview with Meg Ryan while she was in the United Kingdom to promote In the Cut. He said it was his most difficult television moment. His regret is never to have interviewed Frank Sinatra.

Parkinson was a flagship of the BBC's prime time schedule, attracting top names before the chat show circuit was part of the promotional mill . Parkinson interviewed Marlon Brando, he was able to interview wartime variety stars while attracting (then) up-and-coming comedians such as Billy Connolly, and was not afraid to allow an interviewee time to be himself, sometimes as with Sir Paul McCartney devoting an entire programme to a guest.

He was one of the original line-up of TV-am in 1983, with Angela Rippon, Anna Ford and Robert Kee, all replaced with younger talent. He also took over as host of Thames Television's Give Us a Clue from Michael Aspel.

On Halloween night 1992, Parkinson appeared as himself in the television drama Ghostwatch. He was the studio link during a fictional, apparently live, paranormal investigation. However, the cinéma vérité style in which it was shot led to complaints from viewers who believed it depicted real events. From 1995 to 1999, he hosted the BBC One daytime programme Going for a Song. He again played himself in Richard Curtis' 2003 romantic comedy, Love Actually, interviewing the character Billy Mack, played by Bill Nighy. From 31 January to 3 February 2007, Parkinson presented "Symphony at the Movies" at Sydney Opera Housemarker, where he shared stories about his interviews with movie stars and introduced music from films.

Parkinson announced his retirement on 26 June, 2007:

In 2007, Parkinson appeared in the Australian soap Neighbours as himself. On 24 November 2007, during recording of the final regular edition of his ITV chat show, broadcast on 16 December, Parkinson fought back tears as he was given an ovation. The last artist to perform on his show was regular guest Jamie Cullum.

Parkinson was a guest on Top Gear in 2008, posting a lap time of 1:49.4 as the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car".


Parkinson took over BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in 1985, after the death of its creator, Roy Plomley, whose widow was unhappy with Parkinson replacing him. Parkinson stayed for three years until handing over to Sue Lawley. Between 1994 and 1996 he hosted Parkinson on Sport on BBC Radio Five Live. Between 1996 and 2007, he presented a morning show on BBC Radio 2 called Parkinson's Sunday Supplement; it featured newspaper and entertainment summaries with the help of journalists and a lengthy interview with a media personality. These were interspersed with music that demonstrated his penchant for jazz and big-band. In October 2007, a few months after announcing his retirement from his television series, Parkinson said his radio show would also end. The last programme was broadcast on Sunday 2 December 2007. As an interim Clive Anderson presented the programme during December/January and Eammon Holmes during February and Fiona Bruce during March. Michael Ball has now replaced him on a permanent basis. Parkinson presented a mid-morning programme on London's LBC Newstalk 97.3FM. He was considered responsible for promotion of jazz singers to a more mainstream audience during the run of his BBC radio show.


In 1965 The Sunday Times invited Parkinson to write a regular sports column, drawing on characters in his days in cricket and soccer. In the 1980s, Parkinson wrote a series of children's books called The Woofits about a family of anthropomorphic dog-like creatures in the fictional Yorkshire coal-mining village of Grimeworth. The books led to a TV series, which he narrated. He wrote a sports column for the Daily Telegraph and is president of the Sports Journalists' Association of Great Britain.

His book Parky: My Autobiography was published on 2 October 2008.

In April 2009, Parkinson wrote about the recently deceased Jade Goody in Radio Times. He described her as "barely educated, ignorant and puerile," adding, "When we clear the media smokescreen from around her death, what we're left with is a woman who came to represent all that's paltry and wretched about Britain today." Bishop Jonathan Blake, who had presided over Goody's wedding, took exception to Parkinson's comments.

Other work

On 29 September 2008 Parkinson launched his website, which includes online interviews with Nelson Mandela and British comedian Rory Bremner. The site also includes a blog, giving Parkinson's views on news events, plus information about his compilation album, Michael Parkinson: My Life In Music, featuring favourite songs performed by Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, Dionne Warwick and others. The 2-disc CD will be on the Reprise Records label.

Personal life

On 22 August 1959 he married Mary Heneghan, who was from Doncastermarker. Mary Parkinson was one of the presenters of the Thames TV daytime show Good Afternoon and briefly presented Parkinson in the 1970s. They have three children, Andrew, Nicholas and Michael, who were born in 1960, 1964 and 1967 and eight grandchildren (Laura, James, Emma, Georgina, Ben, Felix, Sofia and Honey). In the 1970s he campaigned in support of birth control. He is a cricket fan, and in 1990 hosted a World XI team against Yorkshire. Parkinson and his wife live in Bray, Berkshiremarker. He met his friend Michel Roux when rowing down the River Thames on a Sunday to his then pub, the Waterside Innmarker.

Honours and awards

In 1999 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside. He was invested as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Prince Charles in November 2000 for services to broadcasting. Parkinson was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2008 New Year's Honours List; he remarked that he was "not the type to get a knighthood" coming as he did "from Barnsley. They give it to anyone nowadays."

Parkinson was ranked 8th in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals. In April 2006, Parkinson was awarded Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society (Trinity College, Dublinmarker). He was voted number 20 in ITV's "TV's 50 Greatest Stars".

On 4 June 2008 his knighthood was bestowed by the Queen at Buckingham Palacemarker

Since 2005, Parkinson has served as the President of the Sports Journalists' Association of Great Britain, the largest national organisation of sports journalists in the world.

Parkinson became the first Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University on 11 November 2008. His role includes representing the university and conferring degrees at graduation ceremonies. He is quoted as saying, “I am honoured to be offered the chancellorship at Nottingham Trent University. In television I have always worked with young, ambitious people and I am keen to be involved in this university which helps to realise the aspirations of the young. It will also give me an opportunity to see what I missed!”.

In popular culture

His presenting techniques were spoofed by Alistair McGowan on Big Impression and by Jon Culshaw on Dead Ringers, in which Culshaw portrays Parkinson interviewing the public at bus stops and other locations. The Kenny Everett character Cupid Stunt was "interviewed" by a cut-out Parkinson in "her" sketches. He is on the cover of the Wings album Band on the Run. Paul McCartney told Parkinson that he would appear on his chat show if Parkinson appeared on the album cover, although it was not until 1999 that McCartney fulfilled his promise.

In 2005, Parkinson appeared with comedian Peter Kay on the music video of the re-released "Is This the Way to Amarillo" for Comic Relief, which became a Number 1 single. Parkinson was also featured in Irregular Webcomic! Number 1697.

In May 2009 Parkinson "bemoaned the state of TV generally, saying he was fed up of the rise of celebrities hosting shows, ridiculously titled documentaries and property shows", saying "In my television paradise there would be no more property programmes, no more police-chasing-yobbos-in-cars programmes and, most of all and please God, no more so-called documentary shows with titles like My 20-Ton Tumour, My Big Fat Head, Wolf Girl, Embarrassing Illnesses and The Fastest Man on No Legs." [290591]


  1. Parky, Michael Parkinson, Hodder & Stoughton, 2008, ISBN 978 0 340 96166 7
  2. Screenonline: biography
  3. overview and filmography of Parkinson's work at The British Film Institute
  4. Sydney Morning Herald: How to talk to anyone in the world
  5. Parkinson comments on interview
  6. Digital Spy: Parky to retire after next ITV series
  7. What's on TV: Parky brought to tears on final show
  8. BBC News: Parkinson leaves his Radio 2 show
  9. Sports Journalists' Association
  10. Radio Times 11–17 April 2009: "Points of View by Michael Parkinson"
  11. AOL News: Bishop hits out over Goody outburst
  13. Cricket Archive
  14. How We Met: Michael Parkinson & Michel Roux - "Friendship is not | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at
  15. BBC News: Parkinson bows out with honour
  16. Steve Bryant, "8: Parkinson", 2000, at; accessed 13 [October 2006.
  17. Parkinson collects his knighthood [1]
  18. Sports Journalists' Association: contact page
  19. Sir Michael Parkinson Appointed as First Chancellor
  20. Irregular Webcomic! No. 1697

External links

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