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Sir Michael Parkinson: Chat show host dies aged 88

Veteran broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson has passed away at 88, according to a statement from his family.

Throughout seven decades, Sir Michael became a cornerstone of television, showcasing interviews with globally renowned celebrities on his popular chat show.

His family shared: “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.”

BBC’s Tim Davie honored Sir Michael, noting him as “truly one of a kind, an incredible broadcaster and journalist who will be hugely missed”. He added, “Michael set the bar for chat shows and interviewed the 20th Century’s most iconic stars with captivating flair. Beyond his skill in questioning, he was a remarkable listener.”

Radio 4’s Nick Robinson mentioned, “He was the greatest interviewer of our age who owned Saturday night TV for year after year.”

Stephen Fry, a well-known comedian and broadcaster, said being interviewed by Sir Michael was “impossibly thrilling”. He noted, “Parky always remained true to himself, both on and off-screen. I’d describe him as ‘authentic’.”

Elaine Paige, the singer, expressed, “Such very sad news that Sir Michael Parkinson has died. He was unparalleled in his profession, a legend we won’t witness again.”

Gyles Brandreth, broadcaster and author, emphasized the unique quality of Sir Michael’s shows as they “brought out the best in his guests”. He added, “‘Parky’ was a hero and a pleasure to work alongside.”

Dara O’Briain, a comedian, recalled his experience on the Michael Parkinson show, “It was when I truly felt part of ‘proper showbiz’. Off-screen, he was kind and supportive.”

Launching in 1971 on BBC, the Parkinson show became an institution, with Sir Michael estimating over 2,000 interviews. Some of his most notable guests were Sir Billy Connolly, Muhammad Ali, and Dame Helen Mirren, with Ali being his personal favorite.

Born in 1935 in Cudworth, South Yorkshire, Sir Michael developed a passion for cricket from his miner father. His journey from a local newspaper to prominent TV roles on the BBC and ITV spanned decades, culminating in a knighthood in 2008. He also courageously battled prostate cancer, announcing a recovery in 2015.

Lucy Frazer, Culture Secretary, recognized Sir Michael as a “broadcasting giant”. She added, “He was a cherished figure in TV. My thoughts are with Michael’s family and friends.”

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