Journal logo

The Legacy of Michael Parkinson:

The Last Great Chat Show Host

By Lara Livingstone Published 8 months ago 3 min read

Just like so many other icons who die, there is first a heartfelt wave of sorrow over their death and then a period of reflection; when their talent is reavaluated, rediscovered by former fans and discovered by new ones.

It’s been a week since Sir Michael Parkinson, affectionately known as Parky, was a legendary chat show host and broadcaster whose interviews with some of the world's most renowned personalities left an unforgettable mark on British television history died.

Parkinson conducted memorable sit-down conversations with the famous, the great and the good; that captivated audiences for over four decades. He was renowned for having a natural charm and ability to put his guests at ease, earning him a dedicated fan base and establishing his reputation as an exceptional interviewer.

Parkinson's journey in the world of television began in 1971 when he launched his eponymous show on the BBC. In total at both the BBC and in his later years on ITV, he interviewed over 2,000 guests, including iconic figures like Muhammad Ali, Sir Billy Connolly, Madonna, Dame Helen Mirren, David Bowie and George Best.

Throughout his career, Parkinson encountered both triumphs and challenges, creating moments that would be etched in television history. One of his most memorable interviews was Dame Helen Mirren in 1975.

Parkinson, known for his straightforward approach, asked Mirren if her "equipment" (referring to her physical attributes) hindered her desire to be considered a serious actress. Mirren fired back, challenging the notion that serious actresses couldn't have "big bosoms." The exchange highlighted the ongoing discussions around gender and objectification in the entertainment industry.

Parkinson considered interviewing a privilege, and his show attracted an impressive roster of high-profile guests. From the charismatic Sir Billy Connolly to the legendary Muhammad Ali, Parkinson had the opportunity to engage with some of the world's most captivating individuals.

Parkinson's interviews were not only compelling television but also cultural touchstones. Within them, he showcased his ability to delve into his subjects. personal lives. Offering his audience, a unique insight into the lives and minds of some of the world's most influential figures and cultural icons.

While Parkinson's interviews were typically characterized by warmth and rapport, there were some really unforgettable moments. One of the best involved Rod Hull's Emu, a mischievous puppet that famously attacked Parkinson on the chat show sofa. The unexpected encounter became a recurring clip, winning new fans over the years and achieving viral stardom that continues today.

Another notable guest was the late football legend George Best, who made multiple appearances on Parkinson's show. Best opened up about the pressures of life away from the pitch and his struggles with alcohol addiction. Those honest discussions shed light on the challenges faced by ‘sudden’ celebrities and the impact of fame on well-being.

Parkinson was known for his honesty, both in his interviews and in reflecting on his own career. His willingness to reflect and learn from his mistakes contributed to his growth as an interviewer massively.

Parkinson did not just interview the famous, he interviewed the great and the good - Among the countless interviews, one stood out as Parkinson's personal favorite. Dr Jacob Bronowski, a renowned scientist and creator of the groundbreaking television documentary "The Ascent of Man," left a profound impact on Parkinson.

Their conversation explored the horrors inflicted by Nazi Germany on the Jews, providing a poignant and moving account of one man's perspective. This interview showcased Parkinson's ability to navigate complex and sensitive topics, allowing his guests to share their stories with authenticity and depth.

Sir Michael Parkinson's contribution to the world of television cannot be overstated. His interviews broke boundaries, challenged cultural norms, and provided viewers with intimate glimpses into the lives of those they would never meet, but felt they knew.

Parkinson's ability to balance warmth and frankness through his questions, created an environment of trust, allowing his guests to open up and share their stories.

His legacy lives on through the stories we can find on those Youtube clips and BBC iPlayer archives, which continue to inspire and captivate audiences. Sir Michael Parkinson, the last great chat show host, will forever be remembered as a master of his craft.


About the Creator

Lara Livingstone

Time waits for no one and no one understands that better than me, as a digital creator and blogger. If you want to maximize your time, & keep up to date with all the latest travel/life news - check out my articles, products, and reviews

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.