Sir Michael Parkinson, TV Chat Show Legend, Dies Aged 88

The broadcaster died at home on Wednesday, his family has confirmed.
Sir Michael Parkinson, pictured in 2009
Sir Michael Parkinson, pictured in 2009
Mike Flokis via Getty Images

Sir Michael Parkinson has died at the age of 88, his family has confirmed.

The legendary broadcaster was known for his eponymous TV chat show, which welcomed a host of stars over its 36-year run.

A statement from Sir Michael’s family said (via the BBC): “After a brief illness Sir Michael Parkinson passed away peacefully at home last night in the company of his family.

“The family request that they are given privacy and time to grieve.”

Sir Michael’s self-titled chat show first began on BBC One in 1971, after he started his career working as a journalist for the Guardian and Daily Express.

He then ended the show and left the BBC to join the breakfast station TV-am in 1982.

Parkinson returned – this time on ITV – in 1987, where it ran for two more series. It was then off-air for 10 years before it made a comeback to the BBC in 1998.

The show then had a final run on ITV between 2004 and 2007.

Over the course of the series, Michael interviewed the likes of John Lennon, Tina Turner, George Michael, Madonna, Shirley MacLaine, Tom Cruise and the Duchess Of York.

Michael Parkinson with Tom Cruise on his show in 2004
Michael Parkinson with Tom Cruise on his show in 2004

Among the most remembered interviews include a chaotic chat with Rod Hull and puppet Emu, and an awkward encounter with Meg Ryan.

However, in his memoirs, Michael named his personal favourite interview as that with boxer Muhammad Ali in 1971.

Over his broadcasting career, Sir Michael also hosted shows on BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 2, and was also the host of Radio 4′s Desert Island Discs for three years in the 1980s.

Other credits included Give Us a Clue, Going For a Song and Parkinson One to One.

His last series was a Sky Arts show called Parkinson: Masterclass, which aired in 2012.

Sir Michael on the set of his chat show in 1981
Sir Michael on the set of his chat show in 1981
Sten Rosenlund/Shutterstock

After news of Sir Michael’s death was announced, BBC director general Tim Davie paid tribute to Sir Michael in a statement, which read: “Michael was the king of the chat show and he defined the format for all the presenters and shows that followed.

“He interviewed the biggest stars of the 20th century and did so in a way that enthralled the public. Michael was not only brilliant at asking questions, he was also a wonderful listener.

“Michael was truly one of a kind, an incredible broadcaster and journalist who will be hugely missed.”


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