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Sir Michael Parkinson - Biography

The famous 'King of Chat' talk show host was born 28 March, 1935, and died August 2023

Michael Parkinson sat smiling on a talk show
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As a young man, the late Sir Michael Parkinson wanted to become a professional cricketer. Little did he know that his second-choice career in journalism would eventually make him one of Britain's best-loved celebs. Early days as a TV news reporter on shows such as Twenty-Four Hours led to his own eponymous evening chat show and the rest, as they say, is history.

Broadcasting legend

Over the years, "Parky" interviewed just about every major star in the world on Parkinson, from Orson Wells to Meg Ryan, and Muhammad Ali to David and Victoria Beckham. Despite the Yorkshire-born star sometimes courting controversy (as happened during his interview with Helen Mirren which was branded my many as sexist) he generally remained a much loved TV personality.

As well as TV, Sir Michael was also a star of the radio, and had his own show – Parkinson's Sunday Supplement – on BBC Radio 2 from 1996 to 2007. Parkinson also hosted Desert Island Disks from 1986 to 1988. The Barnsley Grammar School educated talk show host was a regular sports column writer for The Sunday Times and Punch magazine, and published two compilations of his columns from both publications. He also published his autobiography in 2008.

Health and family life

In July 2013, Michael revealed he had prostate cancer in a letter published in The Sun. "I must admit it is a bore," he said, before continuing: "I am 78. Of course mortality is on the mind. But I'm not afraid... I have been told to expect to make a full recovery. And that is the goal. My wife Mary has been a tremendous support and while she has been, of course, very upset, she can see how I have approached this." Michael was given the all clear in 2015.

Michael and his wife Mary married in 1959 and shared three children together. The Parkinson star was awarded a CBE in 2000 for services to broadcasting, and was subsequently made a Knight in the 2008 New Year's Honours List.


On 16 August 2023, Sir Michael Parkinson died aged 88. His family told the BBC that "after a brief illness" Michael passed away peacefully at home in the company of family.

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