PARKINSON. Presenter par excellence

PARKINSON. Presenter par excellence

by Norman Warwick

A documentary was originally broadcast in the summer of 2021 to celebrate five decades since the Parkinson programme had premiered, served again recentlñy as a celebration and commemoration of a life well-lived.

In total, Parkinson filmed more than 650 chat show episodes featuring over 2,000 guests, with the biggest names including filmmaker Orson Welles. It didn’t take long for viewers to go straight to social media and share their reaction to the ‘beautiful’ tribute @ScottGarnham Tweeted: “Beautiful programme on @BBCOne #Parkinsonat50. What an incredible man. We’ll never see another like him. #SirMichaelParkinson.”

@neil_duignan wrote: “That was an incredible hour of entertainment. Occasionally a celebrity dies which leaves a hole in your life. Parky was part of the fabric of my 46 years. RIP Michael #parkinsonat50.”

@janemoir7 said: “OK @BBC if you could just play every episode of #Parkinson ever recorded, on Saturday nights …. I swear I’ll watch BBC on a Saturday forever more. That’d be great ta.”

photo 2 @courageofspeach wrote: “The memories Watching #Parkinson on @BBCOne this evening reminds me of all the amazing guests he interviewed #Parkinson was the man was for the job & one of the best interviewers ever , what a job ! Thank you for a life time of journalism, Welles and boxer Muhammad Ali.

Some people were taken aback by interview clips they had not seen before. @brizzlesean commented: “Wowwwww. Never ever saw that Noel Gallagher bit. Saw genuine pain in Noel’s eyes there. #Parkinson #parkinsonat50.”

I have to speak of my surprise. Somehow I must not have seen that piece befoe, because once seen it would surely not have been forgotten. We viewers could almost read the surprise on Noel´s face as he heard himself opening on a not-always happy childhood. Parkinson let him speak and that was his gift, and responsibility, as an interviewer.

While @pvlrogey added: “Well done #BBC #Parkinsonat50 was wonderful, laughter, a few tears at the end with the Jewish man talking about Auschwitz, I loved The Parkinson show growing up into an adult. A marvellous interviewer & show.”

Actually, though, one of the most interesting aspects of the documentary was that it featured a mature son interviewing an ageing father, and how many of us find the time, the will or the ability to do that, Both parties were perfectly comfortable and although Parky Senior welled up npw and again, he did so primarily in nostalgia. He spoke well, fondly even, of people like John and Yoke and did not try to disguise the great esteem in which he held the likes of Orson Welles, Bette Davis etc and deemed all the successful interviews to have been drawn from the largesse of the interviedwee.

photo 3 His fondness for Ali was obvious, despite a the final two interviews of a trio of talks seemed  quite in your fce, as it were, with Ali seemingly snarling at Parky and putting him down.Viewed agin in hindsight and shaped by the still needed remindedr that Black Lives Matter, it seemed to me that wasnot really putting Parky down, but was perhaps preparing and testing some of the things he knew he was going to have to say on the world stage in the future.  Parky, patently in a mutually respectful relationship with Ali, didn´t rise to any bait and served simply as a sounding board, although it has to be said this documentary did not include the clips of Ali ripping up books and uttering his white birds fly with white birds observation.

We saw Parky flirting like an old romantic with the likes of Lauren Bacall and blushing as if with a schoolboy crush when he was chatted up by Miss Piggy.

In the late sixties and early seventies Parkinson hadn´t yet reached the height of his fame but he was already a ubiquitous figure in Granadatc land, fronting the every evening regional news magazine show, Scene At Six Thirty.

A few years later I served as a match day steward for Lancashire County Cricket Club for a few years, and it was there, I would say, that he was in his element. He was so well respected in that part of that world that the good folk of Lancashire simply allowed him to enjoy the cricket.

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