Thursday, May 28

Interview: Michael Parkinson

- March 19, 2018


Sir Michael Parkinson, a true broadcasting legend and certified national treasure, celebrates some of the defining moments of his tenure in the media with a live audience interview at Theatre Royal Brighton. We had a few questions for him ahead of his arrival in Brighton…

You are hosting An Audience With Sir Michael Parkinson at Theatre Royal Brighton. Can you let us know what the audience can expect?
Well actually I’m co-hosting. The show is myself in conversation with my son and long term producer Mike, who takes me through my life and career with the help of some classic clips from the Parkinson archive. It’s the story of how I made it out of a pit village to the top of those famous stairs with all the highs and lows along the way in the company of Connolly, Ali, Lauren Bacall, Sir David Attenborough, Joan Rivers, Sir Michael Caine. Madonna, Dame Edna Everage… to name but a few. It’s a great show which I love doing and If I wasn’t on stage I would buy a ticket!

In your mind what is the role of the media in society?
I’ve never found a better description then the original mission statement of the BBC – to inform, educate and entertain.

Best interview?
Not one you would expect me to say: it was with the eminent scientist Professor Jacob Bronowski. He was the writer and presenter of that landmark book and television series The Ascent of Man. It was the one time that the shape and progression of the interview went exactly the way I had prepared. But that was more to do with Professor Bronowski’s perfect command of the English language and his forensic mind than my interviewing skills.

To be accepted into their inner circle without an ounce of musical talent is a real honour

Worst interview?
Once, when they were still with us, I sat down with Alan Whicker and David Frost, both of whom I liked and deeply admired, and we agreed to write down on a piece of paper the worst interviewee we had all interviewed. We then showed each other (the answers) at the same time. Each of us had written down Thor Heyerdahl, the Norweigan anthropologist most famous for the Kon-Tiki expedition in the Pacific. We all agreed he would not be our first choice as a crewmate on a deep sea cruise.

Top three songs ever written?
Too many. Here’s three that are near the top of my list: ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ by Cole Porter, sung by Frank Sinatra with the arrangement by Nelson Riddle. ‘Summertime’ by George and Ira Gershwin, sung peerlessly by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. ‘Love For Sale’, again by Cole Porter, played as an instrumental by the Buddy Rich Big Band.

Proudest moment from your career?
Being awarded Honorary membership of the Musicians Union. Music has given me such joy in my life and my respect for anyone with musical talent knows no bounds. To be accepted into their inner circle without an ounce of musical talent is a real honour.

What do you make of current British television?
Slick, brilliantly produced and full of talent yet sadly often soulless and derivative. I was lucky to come into television when I did.

Any advice to give for up and coming broadcasters / interviewers today?
It’s difficult to do so because the media environment they are coming into is not one I recognize, nor to be honest understand. The only piece of advice I can give any aspiring interviewer is do your homework and listen.

An Evening With Sir Michael Parkinson, Theatre Royal Brighton, Sunday 1 April, 7.30pm, from £29.15

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