The “king” of the “talk show,” Michael Parkinson, passed away peacefully on Wednesday night after a short illness, his family told the BBC. Known familiarly as “Parky,” he was a leading figure on British television, known for his intimate interviews with famous figures. His flagship show, “Parkinson’s” debuted on the BBC in June 1971, achieving immediate success. Then, in 1998, the show was revived and gained viewership again.
Throughout his career, Parkinson claimed to have interviewed around 2,000 famous personalities. Among his most memorable interviews was his conversation with legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, whom he described as “the most remarkable human being I’ve ever come across.” In addition, he conducted interviews with renowned actors such as Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, Orson Welles, and Fred Astaire, as well as members of the British royal family, including Princess Anne. In the 2000s, he also shared dialogue with contemporary figures such as footballer David Beckham and actress Judy Dench.
In recognition of his outstanding career, Parkinson received a decoration from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2008. After his death, the United Kingdom was filled with messages paying tribute to his legacy. Tim Davie, BBC Director General, praised Parkinson as an “incredible presenter and journalist” who influenced the format of presenters and programs that followed him. His imprint on the world of entertainment and intimate interviews will live on as a reminder of his lasting impact on television and British media culture.