Michael Parkinson (born March 28, 1935) is a English journalist and television presenter. He is most famous for presenting his eponymous interview programme, Parkinson.
Parkinson, or "Parky" as he is familiarly known, was born in Cudworth, near Barnsley, Yorkshire, and was educated at Barnsley Grammar School. He began as a journalist on local newspapers, and his Yorkshire background and accent remain an important part of his appeal. He also worked as a reporter on the Manchester Guardian and later on the Daily Express in London.
During the 1960s, he moved into television, working on current affairs programmes for both the BBC and Manchester-based Granada Television. From 1969, he introduced a film review programme, before moving on to become a chat show host and a household name in the UK.
Parkinson, shown BBC One, initially ran from 1971 to 1982. It was revived in 1998. A parallel Parkinson series was shown in Australia between 1979 and 1982. In April 2004, ITV announced that it had "poached" Parkinson from the BBC from the autumn of that year. Parkinson said that he was sad to be leaving the BBC after more than 20 years of working for them, but that he and the channel controller, Lorraine Heggessey, could not agree on a suitable slot for his show following the return of Premiership football highlights to the BBC One Saturday evening.
Guests he has interviewed include Muhammad Ali, Miss Piggy, Jacob Bronowski, Shirley MacLaine, Edith Evans, Luciano Pavarotti, Rod Stewart, Richard Attenborough, George Michael, kd lang and Sarah Ferguson. His most famous interview was perhaps that with Rod Hull in the 1970s. Whilst the pair were chatting, Hull's glove puppet Emu repeatedly and (apparently) uncontrollably attacked Parkinson, causing him to fall off his chair. He allegedly threatened to break the puppet's neck (i. e., Hull's arm) if it happened again.
Technical enthusiasts note that the most recent Parkinson run (1998-2004) was one of the few recent British TV programmes that was not shot in widescreen format, perhaps because Parkinson believes standard ratio is better suited to his style of interview show.
He currently presents a Sunday morning show on BBC Radio 2 and in the past has presented a mid-morning programme on London's LBC Newstalk 97.3FM. He was responsible for "discovering" the jazz pianist, Jamie Cullum, among others.
Parkinson was made a CBE in the 2000 Queen's Birthday Honours List. He is married to Mary, who herself briefly presented Parkinson in the 1970s.