Remembering Michael Parkinson, the greatest interviewer of them all
Journalist and presenter of the BBC's Today programme Nick Robinson remembers Sir Michael Parkinson, who died 16th August 2023 at the age of 88.
For some it was Match of the Day. For others the Generation Game. My Saturday night was defined – week in week out – by Parkinson.
Parky's chat show attracted the stars of stage and screen and the giants of sports and public life. They came to talk. Yes, talk, about who they were and what they thought and not what their agents or PRs pre-scripted or agreed in advance.
He was, in my view, the greatest interviewer of them all, who was fascinated by what made the great ordinary and the ordinary great. His skill was allowing his guests to show off and to shine whilst drawing out more from them and revealing more of them than they planned.
I loved him all the more, perhaps, because he was a rare Northern voice on TV in the '80s. Like my Dad, he had silver hair, a twinkle in his eye and he was impossibly proud of coming from Yorkshire. He couldn’t imagine anywhere better to come from. Michael’s connection with his guests was to understand that people’s roots shape not just who they are but what ensured they reached the top.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to meet Parky for the first time. He said he admired my work. I was hugely flattered. I spent the rest of the day beaming. Until I realised that this was just what Parky did. He made people feel good about themselves - those he cross examined as well as those he watched.
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