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British broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson has died aged 88

Sir Michael Parkinson
Sir Michael Parkinson Copyright Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA
Copyright Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA
By David MouriquandAgencies
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Parkinson’s TV career spanned seven decades, during which he interviewed some of the greats in cinema, music and politics.

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British broadcasting legend Sir Michael Parkinson has died aged 88.

Parkinson’s TV career spanned seven decades and he was best known for his long-running talk show "Parkinson", a staple of British television for many years in which he interviewed the likes of Fred Astaire, David Bowie, Helen Mirren, Tom Cruise and Muhammad Ali.

The show initially ran on the BBC from 1971 to 1982. It was relaunched in 1998 before moving to ITV in 2004. He retired the show in 2007.

A statement from Sir Michael's family said: "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."

The former journalist announced in 2013 that he was being treated for prostate cancer but that he had no intention of stopping working. Two years later, he said he got the all-clear from doctors.

Parkinson was born on 28 March 1935, in Cudworth, South Yorkshire, England. He began his career in journalism, working for various newspapers before transitioning to broadcasting.

His warm and insightful interviewing style made his in-depth interviews with a wide range of celebrities a highlight.

There were a few infamous interviews, including one with Helen Mirren, which he introduced as the “sex queen” of the Royal Shakespeare Company during their 1975 encounter. In the interview, he asked if her “equipment” hindered her being recognised as a serious actress.

Another infamous encounter was his interview with Meg Ryan in 2003, which made headlines due to the frosty nature of the one-on-one. The interview went down in history as one of his most memorable shows.

Parkinson’s final show - a two hour special - featured David Attenborough, Judi Dench, Michael Caine, David Beckham, Billy Connolly and Jamie Cullum. He said: “Over the years it has been a privilege to meet some of the most intelligent and interesting people. It has always been a great joy and I shall miss it.”

Once the show was retired in 2007, Parkinson wrote and continued to make appearances on television and radio.

He was knighted in 2008 for his services to broadcasting, journalism, and charity.

Tributes have started to celebrate the life of what some consider to be a national treasure, inlcuding heartfelt testimonies from the likes of Stephen Fry and Eddie Izzard. 

"Loved that man. Having grown up watching him interview greats, my first appearance was impossibly thrilling for me," wrote Fry. 

"He was the king of the intelligent interview," wrote Izzard. 

Sir Michael Parkinson 1935 - 2023

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