YORK has paid its own tribute to Yorkshireman and chat show legend Sir Michael Parkinson after his death at the age of 88.

The broadcaster has been hailed as being “beyond region or class” and “irreplaceable” by close friends and contemporaries including Sir David Attenborough, former cricket umpire Dickie Bird and actor Sir Michael Caine.

And in York today (Thursday, August 17) Yorkshire County Cricket Club held a minute’s silence ahead of play at Clifton Park.

The celebrated chat show host died peacefully at home at the age of 88 “after a brief illness” and “in the company of his family” on Wednesday night.

Known as Parky, he interviewed some of Hollywood’s biggest names throughout his illustrious career and tributes from across the world of sport and entertainment have praised him for not only his interviewing skills, but as someone who was “irreplaceable” and “charming”.

Sir David Attenborough, 97, remembered Sir Michael as a “proud Yorkshireman”, adding in a statement to the PA news agency that “he was beyond region or class – he was himself”.

“He was also an ideal interviewer who asked interesting and often important questions because he genuinely wanted to know the answer.”

Sir David added: “He also had a great sense of humour and didn’t take himself too seriously.”

Former international cricket umpire and Yorkshire batter Bird, 90, spoke of his “dear friend” saying, “there will never be another Parky”.

The pair opened the batting for Barnsley Cricket Club together in their youth and remained friends, with Bird telling PA: “He was so close to me. We were friends since we were youngsters, his father and my father worked down the mines together in Barnsley and we have been friends all of our lives.

York Press: Sir Michael ParkinsonSir Michael Parkinson

“His friendship meant more to me than anything else. If I wanted any advice I would ring Parky up. He helped me in so many, many ways.

“There will never be anyone better than him in your lifetime, my lifetime or anyone else’s lifetime.”

Sir Michael became a familiar face on both the BBC and ITV because of his intimate celebrity interviews, most notably on BBC show Parkinson which first aired on June 19 1971.


It enjoyed a successful run until 1982 before being revived by the BBC in 1998 and proving again to be an instant hit.

The show switched to ITV1 in 2004 and ran until 2007 – the same year Sir Michael retired from his Sunday morning Radio 2 programme.

Famous interviews included boxer Muhammad Ali, footballer David Beckham and comedian Rod Hull – with puppet Emu.

In 2008 Victoria Beckham – wife of former England captain David – revealed during an interview she referred to the ex-midfielder as ‘Golden Balls’, a nickname that stuck throughout his career.

Sir Michael also made headlines with some more difficult encounters, including with actresses Dame Helen Mirren and US star Meg Ryan.

He famously introduced stage and screen star Dame Helen as the “sex queen” of the Royal Shakespeare Company during a 1975 chat show, and asked if her “equipment” hindered her being recognised as a serious actress.

In 2003, a frosty one-on-one with Hollywood actress Ryan while she was promoting the poorly received erotic thriller In The Cut, saw her stony-faced for the sit-down, delivering one-word answers after allegedly being rude to fellow guests.

Sir Michael Caine, who appeared in 2007 as a guest on the final Parkinson instalment, wrote on Twitter: “Michael Parkinson was irreplaceable, he was charming, always wanted to have a good laugh. He brought the best of everyone he met.

“Always looked forward to be interviewed by him.”

The BBC’s director-general Tim Davie said that Sir Michael was “the king of the chat show” and “defined the format for all the presenters and shows that followed.”

He grew up as an only child in a council house in the coalmining village of Cudworth, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire, where his miner father took him down the pit as a teenager to put him off working there.

When his dreams of playing cricket for Yorkshire were dashed, he left school aged 16 and began working at a local paper, later joining the Manchester Guardian and then the Daily Express.

His first TV job was as a producer at Granada, and he later moved to Thames TV, before landing his chat show Parkinson at the BBC.

He had a short-lived term at TV-am as part of the original presenting line-up alongside the likes of Angela Rippon and David Frost, and appeared on the shows Give Us A Clue, one-off drama Ghostwatch and Going For A Song.

Rippon said: “He was a pal, a colleague, and the most outstanding interviewer of his generation. He listened to what his guests said. Had a conversation with them rather than mechanically going through a list of questions or haranguing them.

“As a result he has left a treasure trove of conversations with some of the greatest names of the 20th century.”

He was also a respected radio broadcaster, hosting Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 as well as his own sports shows on 5 Live, and an award-winning sports writer.

Sir Michael was knighted by the late Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2008, and in 2013, spoke openly about being diagnosed with prostate cancer following a routine health check.

He had three sons with wife Mary, who he married in 1959.