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Sir Michael Parkinson, CBE

An English broadcaster, journalist and author. He presented his chat show, Parkinson, from 1971 to 1982 and from 1998 to 2007. He has been described by The Guardian as "the great British talkshow host".

Parkinson, or "Parky" as he is known, was born in the village of Cudworth, England. The son of a miner, he was educated at Barnsley Grammar School and passed two O-Levels: in Art and English Language. He was a club cricketer, and both he and his opening partner at Barnsley Cricket Club, Dickie Bird, had trials for Yorkshire together with Geoffrey Boycott. He once kept Boycott out of the Barnsley Cricket team by scoring a century and 50 in two successive matches.

Parkinson began as a journalist on local newspapers, and his Yorkshire background and accent remain part of his appeal. He worked as a features writer for the Manchester Guardian, working alongside Michael Frayn, and later on the Daily Express in London. He was also conscripted into National Service as Britain's youngest army captain and was involved in the Suez Operation in the summer of 1956.

During the 1960s, Parkinson moved into television, working on current affairs programmes for the BBC and Manchester-based Granada Television. From 1969 he presented Granada's Cinema, a late-night film review programme, (which included his first star interview with Laurence Olivier), before in 1971 presenting his eponymous BBC series Parkinson, which ran until 1982 and from 1998 until December 2007, leaving the BBC for ITV1 partway through the second run, however he avoided posing his usual confrontational questions. By his own reckoning, he has interviewed 2,000 of the world's celebrities. In 1985, he stood in for Barry Norman as presenter of Film 85.

Parkinson was one of the original line-up of TV-am in 1983, with Angela Rippon, Anna Ford and Robert Kee, all replaced with younger talent. He also took over as host of Thames Television's Give Us a Clue from Michael Aspel.

During Halloween 1992, Parkinson appeared as himself in the television drama Ghostwatch as the studio link during a fictional, apparently live, paranormal investigation, however, the cinéma vérité style in which it was shot led to complaints from viewers who believed it depicted real events. From 1995 to 1999, he hosted the BBC One daytime programme Going for a Song. He again played himself in Richard Curtis' 2003 romantic comedy, Love Actually, interviewing the character Billy Mack, played by Bill Nighy. From 31 January to 3 February 2007, Parkinson presented "Symphony at the Movies" at Sydney Opera House, where he shared stories about his interviews with movie stars and introduced music from films. In October 2003, Parkinson had a controversial interview with Meg Ryan while she was in the UK to promote In the Cut, calling it his most difficult television moment.

On 26 June 2007, Parkinson announced his retirement:

In 2007, Parkinson appeared in the Australian soap Neighbours as himself. On 24 November 2007, during recording of the final regular edition of his ITV chat show, broadcast on 16 December, Parkinson fought back tears as he was given an ovation. The last artist to perform on his show was regular guest Jamie Cullum. As of December 2008, Parkinson holds 458 credits as a presenter on his own and with others.

Parkinson was a flagship of the BBC's prime time schedule, attracting top names before the chat show circuit was part of the promotional mill. Parkinson interviewed Marlon Brando, he was able to interview wartime variety stars while attracting up-and-coming comedians such as Billy Connolly, and was not afraid to allow an interviewee time to be himself, sometimes as with Fred Astaire, Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael and Mel Gibson devoting an entire programme to a guest.

On 18 December 2003 he addressed the second Bradman Oration in Brisbane.

He was a guest on Top Gear in 2008, posting a lap time of 1:49.4 as the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car". He always maintained that the most remarkable man he ever interviewed was Muhammad Ali and regrets having never interviewed Frank Sinatra or Sir Donald Bradman.

Parkinson will return to hosting television in November 2012 with his new show Parkinson: Masterclass on Sky Arts.

Parkinson took over BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs for the 1986 series, after the 1985 death of its creator, Roy Plomley, whose widow was unhappy with Parkinson replacing him. After six shows he was criticised by the BBC Board of Management for "a Yorkshire bias in the choice of castaways". despite the fact that only one of his guests was born in the county. (The list of castaways included, within its first seven under Parkinson control, Maureen Lipman, Ben Kingsley and Selina Scott (all born in Yorkshire), Roy Hattersley (born 'just over the border' in Derbyshire but always associated with Sheffield, Yorkshire) and Bruce Oldfield (born in County Durham but largely educated in Yorkshire [Ripon Grammar School and Sheffield College]).

Parkinson claimed that the criticism was " a rearguard action by the establishment against the perceived desecration of an institution by an outsider". Parkinson stayed for three years until handing over to Sue Lawley.

Between 1994 and 1996 he hosted Parkinson on Sport on BBC Radio Five Live. Between 1996 and 2007, he presented a morning show on BBC Radio 2 called Parkinson's Sunday Supplement; it featured newspaper and entertainment summaries with the help of journalists and a lengthy interview with a media personality. These were interspersed with music that demonstrated his penchant for jazz and big-band. In October 2007, a few months after announcing his retirement from his television series, Parkinson said his radio show would also end.

The last programme was broadcast on Sunday 2 December 2007. As an interim Clive Anderson presented the programme during December/January and Eammon Holmes during February and Fiona Bruce during March. Michael Ball has now replaced him on a permanent basis. Parkinson presented a mid-morning programme on London's LBC Newstalk 97.3FM. He was considered responsible for promotion of jazz singers to a more mainstream audience during the run of his BBC radio show.

In 1965 The Sunday Times invited Parkinson to write a regular sports column, drawing on characters in his days in cricket and soccer. In the 1980s, Parkinson wrote a series of children's books called The Woofits about a family of anthropomorphic dog-like creatures in the fictional Yorkshire coal-mining village of Grimeworth. The books led to a TV series, which he narrated. He wrote a sports column for the Daily Telegraph and is president of the Sports Journalists' Association of Great Britain.

His book Parky: My Autobiography was published on 2 October 2008. In April 2009, Parkinson wrote about the recently deceased Jade Goody in Radio Times. He described her as "barely educated, ignorant and puerile," adding, "When we clear the media smokescreen from around her death, what we're left with is a woman who came to represent all that's paltry and wretched about Britain today." Bishop Jonathan Blake, who had presided over Goody's wedding, took exception to Parkinson's comments.

Personal life

On 22 August 1959 he married Mary Heneghan, who was from Doncaster. Under her new name, Mary Parkinson was one of the presenters of the Thames TV daytime show Good Afternoon and briefly presented Parkinson in the 1970s.

They have three children, Andrew, Nicholas and Michael Jr, who were born in 1960, 1964 and 1967 and eight grandchildren (Laura, James, Emma, Georgina, Ben, Felix, Sofia and Honey). In the 1970s he campaigned in support of birth control, having had a vasectomy in 1972 to allow his wife to stop taking the Pill. He is a cricket fan, and in 1990 hosted a World XI team against Yorkshire. Parkinson and his wife live in Bray, Berkshire.[27] He met his friend Michel Roux when rowing down the River Thames on a Sunday to his then pub, the Waterside Inn.

Honours and awards

In 1999, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Lincoln. He was invested as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Prince Charles in November 2000 for services to broadcasting.[29] Parkinson was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2008 New Year's Honours List; he remarked that he was "not the type to get a knighthood" coming as he did "from Barnsley. They give it to anyone nowadays."

Parkinson was ranked 8th in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals. In April 2006, Parkinson was awarded Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society (Trinity College, Dublin).

He was voted number 20 in ITV's "TV's 50 Greatest Stars". On 4 June 2008 he was knighted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

On 11 November 2008, he became the first Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, the role includes representing the university and conferring degrees at graduation ceremonies. Upon receiving the honour he said, “I am honoured to be offered the chancellorship at Nottingham Trent University. In television I have always worked with young, ambitious people and I am keen to be involved in this university which helps to realise the aspirations of the young. It will also give me an opportunity to see what I missed!”.

Parkinson has served as the President of the Sports Journalists' Association of Great Britain since 2005, the largest national organisation of sports journalists in the world.
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