Sir Michael Parkinson hailed as ‘king of the intelligent interview’

Some of the many celebrities interviewed over the years by Sir Michael Parkinson have paid tribute to him (PA)
Some of the many celebrities interviewed over the years by Sir Michael Parkinson have paid tribute to him (PA)

Sir Michael Parkinson has been hailed as a “broadcasting giant” who was the “king of the intelligent interview” following his death at the age of 88.

Some of the celebrities he interviewed have paid tribute after his family announced he died “peacefully at home” on Wednesday.

Comedian Stephen Fry said being interviewed by Sir Michael was “impossibly thrilling”.

On Instagram, Fry wrote: “The genius of Parky was that unlike most people (and most of his guests, me included) he was always 100% himself. On camera and off. ‘Authentic’ is the word I suppose.

“For one of the shows I was on with Robin Williams, a genius of unimaginable comic speed and brilliance. Now they’re both gone.

“One should get used to the parade of people constantly falling off the edge, but frankly one doesn’t. So long #parky.”

Sir Michael became a familiar face on both the BBC and ITV with his intimate celebrity interviews, most notably on the BBC show Parkinson.

Comedian and actor Matt Lucas described him as a “titan of television” and the “ultimate chat show host”.

Recalling his most memorable interviews, the 49-year-old tweeted: “We’ll never forget his brilliant interviews with Muhammad Ali, Dame Edna, Billy Connolly and, of course, ‘that bloody emu’.”

Dara O Briain recalled Sir Michael doing “the coolest thing I ever saw pre-show” and a “consummate pro on-screen, and generous and encouraging off-screen”.

The comedian, who appeared three times on Sir Michael’s show, tweeted: “Michael arrived, chatted away to us, not a nerve in sight, when the band starting playing the theme tune.

“Michael paused, smiled and said ‘They’re playing my tune’ and walked straight out and started the show. Lovely.”

The first episode of Parkinson aired on June 19, 1971 and during his career he interviewed Muhammad Ali, Sir Elton John, Madonna, Sir David Attenborough and Dame Judi Dench.

Eamonn Holmes said that knowing Sir Michael “on and off screen” was a “privilege”.

He tweeted: “They don’t make them like that anymore. Rip Sir Michael Parkinson.”

Comedian Eddie Izzard wrote on Twitter: “Very sad to hear that Michael Parkinson has left us. He was the king of the intelligent interview.”

Elaine Paige paid tribute to Sir Michael as a “legendary interviewer”.

Sharing a picture of the pair on Twitter, the British singer and actress said: “Such very sad breaking news that Sir Michael Parkinson has died.

“Have known him for many years, sang on his TV chat show & attended many events with him.

“A legendary interviewer that will be remembered as the best of his profession. We will never see his like again.”

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer called Sir Michael a “broadcasting giant who set a gold standard for the television interview”.

She tweeted: “He spent his life entertaining millions of us with his Saturday night talk show & was one of our most treasured TV personalities.

“My thoughts are with Michael’s family & friends.”