Reports are coming in that British TV legend Sir Michael Parkinson has sadly passed away at the age of 88.
According to a statement from the renowned broadcaster’s family, Parkinson died after suffering a brief illness, but “passed away peacefully at home last night in the company of his family.”
After first breaking into television in the 1960s, Parkinson became a household name in the 1970s as the host of Britain’s most popular chat show, which ran into the early 80s and then came back in the late 90s.
Parkinson came from working class beginnings in Yorkshire. The son of a miner, he was born in Cudworth, near Barnsley in March 1935. He attended Barnsley Grammar School, and went on to play for Barnsley Cricket Club alongside such renowned figures as Dickie Bird and Geoffrey Boycott, before serving two years national service in the Army.Credit: Central Press//Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Starting out in journalism as a writer for the Manchester Guardian and the Daily Express, Parkinson got his break in television as a reporter for BBC current affairs show Twenty-Four Hours, then hosted film review programme Cinema before his eponymous celebrity chat show Parkinson began in 1971. Soon, he became affectionately known as ‘Parky.’
Parkinson went on to interview scores of major celebrities, including actors, filmmakers, athletes, musicians, writers and politicians. Some of his most notable guests included Muhammad Ali, who was interviewed by Parkinson four times; Peter Ustinov, who was on Parkinson eight times; and Billy Connolly, who appeared on Parkinson a record-breaking fifteen times, including the show’s last-ever episode in 2007.
Outside of his chat show, Parkinson also spent several years hosting ITV’s breakfast news programme TV-am, as well as game show Give Us a Clue, Film 85, Parkinson One to One and Going for a Song. On radio, he spent time as the host of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Radio Five Live’s Parkinson on Sport, and Radio 2’s Parkinson’s Sunday Supplement.
He also did some acting work, appearing as fictionalised versions of himself in 70s horror film Madhouse, controversial 1992 drama Ghostwatch, soap operas Brookside and Neighbours, and the classic 2003 rom-com Love Actually.
Parkinson retired from television in 2007 aged 72, and published Parky: My Autobiography the following year. 2008 also saw him knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to broadcasting. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013, but following treatment was given the all-clear.
Parkinson is survived by his wife Lady Mary Parkinson, their three children and eight grandchildren, to whom we extend our deepest sympathies.