According to his family, Sir Michael Parkinson, a renowned broadcaster widely regarded as the king of British chat show hosts, has passed away at the age of 88.
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.”
Throughout his successful career, the chat show presenter conducted interviews with some of Hollywood’s top stars, including Jimmy Cagney, Fred Astaire, Lauren Bacall, and Ingrid Bergmann.
Because of his personal encounters with famous people, most notably on the BBC programme Parkinson, Sir Michael became a well-known face on both the BBC and ITV.
Parkinson had a great run from its debut on the BBC on June 19, 1971, until 1982. The BBC relaunched the conversation programme in 1998, and it became a huge success.
In 2004, it moved from the BBC to ITV1, where it remained until 2007—the year Sir Michael ended his Sunday morning radio show on Radio 2.
Throughout his long and illustrious career, he had guests including boxer Muhammad Ali, athlete David Beckham, and Rod Hull with his puppet Emu on his chat programmes.
He conducted interviews with famous people during the hundreds of episodes of his talk show, including David Bowie, John Lennon, and Celine Dion.
Along the course of his career, he had notable interviews with Meg Ryan and Dame Helen Mirren.
When they met on a chat show in 1975, he memorably introduced Dame Helen as the “sex queen” of the Royal Shakespeare Company and questioned whether her “equipment” prevented her from being regarded as a serious performer.
Following a chilly one-on-one with the Hollywood actress as she was promoting the critically panned sexual film In The Cut, his interview with Ryan garnered media attention in 2003.
After allegedly acting rudely towards Trinny and Susannah, her fellow guests on the show, Ryan sat stony-faced throughout the sit-down and gave one-word responses.
Prior to his time on television, he was raised as an only child in a council home in the South Yorkshire coal mining community of Cudworth.
His miner father took him down the pit when he was a teenager to discourage him from working there.
He left school at the age of 16 to start working for a local newspaper after his hopes of playing cricket for Yorkshire were crushed. He eventually moved on to the Manchester Guardian and then the Daily Express.
Producer at Granada, where he started his career in television, he later worked for Thames TV before securing the talk programme Parkinson at the BBC.
Along with Angela Rippon and David Frost, he briefly served as a presenter for TV-am. He made appearances on the series Give Us A Clue, the one-off thriller Ghostwatch, and Going For A Song.
A two-hour special featuring Beckham, Sir Michael Caine, Sir David Attenborough, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Edna Everage, Sir Billy Connolly, Peter Kay, and Jamie Cullum marked the end of Sir Michael’s chat show after more than 30 years on air.
Speaking on the final show, 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.”
In addition to his work in television, he was a well-known radio host who had his own sports shows on Five Live as well as Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. He was a lifelong cricket lover and also a prize-winning sports writer.
In 2008, he shared an honorary doctorate with Dickie Bird, a cricket umpire and close friend, at the Huddersfield University campus in Barnsley.
The late Queen presented him with a knighthood at Buckingham Palace in 2008. He later reflected on the honour, saying, “I never expected to be knighted – I thought there was more chance of me turning into a Martian really.”
Following a routine health checkup, he publicly disclosed in 2013 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
With Mary, his wife whom he married in 1959, he had three sons.