17 August 2023

In Pictures: Chat show king Sir Michael Parkinson became showbiz royalty

17 August 2023

Sir Michael Parkinson looked set to find fame as a cricketer in his younger days, but eventually it was journalism that propelled him into the limelight as he became as well known as many of the famous faces he interviewed.

The broadcaster, who has died at the age of 88, joined the likes of contemporaries Sir Geoffrey Boycott and umpiring great Dickie Bird on the Yorkshire cricket scene as a youngster, but never quite made it to the top ranks of the game he loved.

Instead his work as a reporter with Granada TV would eventually give him his opportunity, leading to his eponymous chat show with the BBC starting in 1971.

Sir Michael, in his Barnsley accent, would grill global celebrities and was not afraid of controversy.

He introduced Sir Billy Connolly to a wider audience, with the Glaswegian comedian sharing edgy material that often did not get an airing on TV.

Sir Michael even sparred with Muhammad Ali in a memorable exchange of views on a variety of subjects, and despite disagreements with the boxing great, described his opponent as a “beautiful human” being.

But he decisively lost a televised bout with Rod Hull and his puppet Emu, who dominated the encounter, launching a series of assaults that left the chat show reeling and covering up in a futile attempt to fend off his aggressor.

In later years Sir Michael continued to interview top celebrities and was not afraid of offering opinions, including criticisms of reality television stars.

He was fond of Australia and would regularly be seen at cricket matches or at Wimbledon.

His knighthood was one of many accolades that came his way and he even received an honorary degree alongside his friend from his teenage days, Dickie Bird.

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