Yorkshire-born broadcaster and journalist Sir Michael Parkinson was a familiar face on our screens for as long as most of us can remember.

The 88-year-old, affectionately known as ‘Parky’, brought us talk show Parkinson, which ran from 1971-1982, and then again from 1998–2007.

During this time he interviewed more than 2,000 of the most famous people – from Hollywood stars to politicians, sport and popular culture stars.

Read More: Sir Michael Parkinson dies latest updates as tributes flood in

He sat opposite legends like Muhammad Ali and even helped launch the career of top comedian Billy Connolly.

Name: Michael Parkinson
Born: Barnsley, 1935 'Parky' is probably Britain's most famous TV interviewer. His guests have included Orson Welles, Muhammad Ali and Madonna.
Broadcaster and journalist Sir Michael Parkinson
(Image: Ian West/PA)

And while he may have climbed the dizzy heights of the showbiz hall of fame, us lot in Yorkshire will always claim him as one of our own – he was fiercely proud of his roots.

The last ever episode of Michael Parkinson’s chat show will air on ITV on December 22. Viewers will be taken back to 2007 to relive interviews between Michael and Peter Kay, David Beckham and many more superstars in ‘Parkinson: The Final Conversation’.

Michael was born in Cudworth near Barnsley in 1935 and was the son of a miner. He attended Barnsley Grammar School and his passion and talent for cricket saw him opening the batting at Barnsley Cricket Club with the famous umpire Dickie Bird.

Tragically his family announced on August 17 that he had passed away after a short illness. In a statement his family said: “After a brief illness Sir Michael Parkinson passed away peacefully at home last night in the company of his family.

“The family request that they are given privacy and time to grieve.”

Was Michael Parkinson married and did he have children?

Parkinson married his wife Mary, also a Northerner from Doncaster, in 1959.

The pair met in Yorkshire on the top deck of a bus in Doncaster and the rest, as they say, is history.

Parkinson has been married to his wife Mary, also a Northerner from Doncaster, since 1959.
(Image: Getty Images)

The love birds were married for 60 years and had three children, Andrew, Nicholas and Michael Jr, who were born in 1960, 1964, and August 1967.

Michael suffered Alcohol abuse

Despite being in a happy marriage, the star previously revealed how it hasn’t always been an easy ride – which led to him heavily relying on alcohol.

In 2020, Parkinson opened up to the Express about a “deeply unhappy” period in his long standing marriage which came about after he began to increasingly rely upon alcohol during the early days of his Fleet Street career.

He said: “I was not far short of being a chronic alcoholic.”

He described how the drinking culture in journalism at the time was all-consuming and that several of his friends were “heavy drinkers”.

Thankfully, he managed to “pull out at the right time”.

It was Mary who helped him through it in the end, revealed the journalist, who said: “I might remember it as being the thing that stopped me, was Mary my wife.”

Michael Parkinson’s emotional documentary

Parkinson had his own documentary on BBC One titled ‘Parkinson at 50’ which left viewers emotional.

The documentary saw the legendary talk show look back on his illustrious career alongside his son and producer Mike.

Talk show legend Michael Parkinson in his prime
Michael Parkinson had his own documentary on BBC one titled Parkinson at 50 which left viewers emotional
(Image: Parkinson Productions/PA Wire)

He went on to review some of his most memorable career moments and recalled speaking to various famous faces over the years from all walks of life.

Among the list were boxing legend Muhammed Ali to actress Dame Helen Mirren and comedian Billy Connelly.

At the time viewers watching the documentary could not help but feel emotional about the chat show host as they saw him review his career highlights.

Michael’s infamous interview with Meg Ryan

As awkward TV interviews go, Parkinson’s frosty chat with Hollywood star Meg Ryan in 2003 is one of the most infamous.

The chat show host was faced with a stony-faced Ryan, who delivered one-word answers as she promoted her poorly received erotic thriller The Cut.

Michael Parkinson’s frosty chat with Hollywood star Meg Ryan in 2003 is one of the most infamous
(Image: Getty Images)

Despite a long and industrious career interviewing A-listers and high-profile figures, it has gone down in history as one of Sir Michael’s most memorable shows.

The TV host had offered Ryan an olive branch and admitted neither of them were on “top form”.

Speaking to the Radio Times he said: “I’m sorry. But you must understand that you played a part in it, too.

“Neither of us were on top form, and we were both discomforted.”

What awards did Michael Parkinson achieve?

During his career Michael won numerous awards including a BAFTA, several National Television Awards and finished with Parkinson being named in the BFI’s top 10 British TV Shows of all time.

In honour of his services to broadcasting, Sir Michael received a CBE from Prince Charles in 2000, before being Knighted by the Queen in 2008 in the New Year’s Honours list.

He also returned to Yorkshire to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Yorkshire Society.

Michael Parkinson will be returning to his homeland, Yorkshire, in March, to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Yorkshire Society

As a proud Yorkshireman, it was hoped that this award would be even more valued than the many accolades he has already received.

Parkinson, when asked about receiving the award, replied tongue-in-cheek: “I am chuffed to be recognised by my fellow Yorkshire men and women. It’s only taken me 80-odd years to finally impress them.”

Michael Parkinson’s sad death

Sir Michael died peacefully at home on August 16 of this year. The legendary chat show host was said to have died after a ‘brief illness’ at the time and it was confirmed just days later that Sir Michael had passed away from ‘frailty of old age’.

Sir Michael’s son, who is also named Michael, recently told BBC Radio 4’s Last Word: “The difficulty with having a public figure as a father is that you feel you can’t grieve until everyone else has.

“It’s a silly thing to say, but that’s the truth – you feel that everyone else must express what they feel about him because he meant so much to them. He meant so much to so many people but, actually, as a family, it’s hard. Your experience is overshadowed by noise and an outpouring that you feel almost that you have to step back from and allow that to happen, and allow that wave to subside.

“And then you, as a family, can remember him as a father, as a husband.”


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