Michael Parkinson

From Academic Kids

Michael Parkinson CBE (born March 28 1935) is a British broadcasting legend. A journalist and television presenter, he is most famous for presenting his eponymous interview programme, Parkinson.

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Michael Parkinson

Parkinson, or "Parky" as he is familiarly known, was born in Cudworth, near Barnsley, Yorkshire, and was educated at Barnsley Grammar School. He began as a journalist on local newspapers, and his Yorkshire background and accent remain an important part of his appeal. He also worked as a reporter on the Manchester Guardian and later on the Daily Express in London.

During the 1960s, he moved into television, working on current affairs programmes for both the BBC and Manchester-based Granada Television. From 1969, he introduced a film review programme, before moving on to become a chat show host and a household name in the UK.

Parkinson, shown on BBC One, initially ran from 1971 to 1982. A parallel Parkinson series was shown in Australia between 1979 and 1982. In 1982 he left the BBC to be co-founder and presenter on the ITV breakfast television station TV-am, where after many schedule upheavals he ended up presenting the Sunday morning programme with his wife Mary Parkinson. He returned to the BBC in 1995 to present a series of retrospective shows, Parkinson: The Interviews featuring excerpts from Parkinson, eventually presenting a new, revived version of his chat show on BBC One three years later. However, in April 2004, ITV announced that it had "poached" Parkinson from the BBC from the autumn of that year. Parkinson said that he was sad to be leaving the BBC but that he and the channel controller, Lorraine Heggessey, could not agree on a suitable slot for his show following the return of Premiership football highlights to the BBC One Saturday evening lineup. The ITV version of the programme, produced by Granada, debuted in September 2004, with an identical set, theme-tune and format to the BBC version.

Guests he has interviewed include Muhammad Ali, Miss Piggy, Jacob Bronowski, Shirley MacLaine, Edith Evans, Luciano Pavarotti, Rod Stewart, Richard Attenborough, George Michael, kd lang, and Sarah Ferguson. His most famous interview was perhaps that with Rod Hull in the 1970s. Whilst the pair were chatting, Hull's glove puppet Emu repeatedly and (apparently) uncontrollably attacked Parkinson, causing him to fall off his chair. He allegedly threatened to break the puppet's neck (i. e., Hull's arm) if it happened again.

Technical enthusiasts note that the most recent Parkinson run on the BBC (1998-2004) was one of the few recent British TV programmes that was not shot in widescreen format, perhaps because Parkinson believes standard ratio is better suited to his style of interview show. However, his ITV show is shot in widescreen.

He currently presents a Sunday morning show on BBC Radio 2 and in the past has presented a mid-morning programme on London's LBC Newstalk 97.3FM. He was responsible for "discovering" jazz pianist Jamie Cullum, among others.

Parkinson was made a CBE in the 2000 Queen's Birthday Honours List. He is married to Mary, who herself briefly presented Parkinson in the 1970s. In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, Parkinson placed 8th.


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