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Michael Parkinson was born in Cudworth, near Barnsley. He began his career as a journalist, but later moved to television where he worked for Granada on current affairs programmes before joining the BBC 24 hours team. In 1965 he began writing a weekly sports column for The Sunday Times. A passionate interest in film led to the publication of A Pictorial History of Westerns, his favourite film genre. His chat show Parkinson ran for 11 years, from 1971 until 1982 and he has interviewed almost everybody who was anybody with the exception of Frank Sinatra – a lasting regret. From 1979 to 1982 he also presented Parkinson for ABC and Channel 10 in Australia, and in the 1980s he was one of the founder members of TV AM.
From 1990–92 he presented the Michael Parkinson Show on LBC, a daily, live three hour radio show. From 1986–87 he presented Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 and from 1994–96 he presented Parkinson on Sport for Radio 5. In 1996 Michael launched a Sunday morning show, Parkinson’s Sunday Supplement on Radio 2, with music and guests which is still on air today.
In 1990 Michael Parkinson joined the Daily Telegraph, writing a regular weekly column on sport. He has won numerous awards including, in 1995, Sports Feature Writer of the Year at the British Sport Journalism Awards. In 1998 he won awards for his work in three different branches of the media – a feat thought to be unique. He won a Sony Radio Award for Parkinson’s Sunday Supplement, he was named Sports Writer of the Year at the Press Gazette British Press Awards and Media Personality of the Year by the Variety Club. In June 2000, Michael was awarded a CBE and Parkinson was named one of the top ten favourite British TV programmes of all time. A new series of Parkinson began on ITV in 2004 and continued till November 2007. He was awarded a knighthood for services to broadcasting in the 2008 New Year’s honours list.
Happily married to his wife Mary for nearly fifty years, they have three sons.
Michael Parkinson and George Best faced one another countless times in interviews. Their conversations were mutually respectful, even intimate, yet always brimming with searching questions and revealing answers. The great Manchester United and Northern Ireland attacker - one of the few sports personalities to merit the term 'iconic' - was almost always candid, lucid and self-effacing. Alcoholism had him in its grip from an early age, affecting the love affairs that fed the tabloid headlines, but there was far more to Best than booze and birds. In George Best: A Memoir, Michael Parkinson draws upon decades of award-winning journalistic experience to re-evaluate a remarkable footballer and a damaged friend. The book weaves together recollections of when the 'the fifth Beatle' ensured it was Manchester, not London or Liverpool, which made the Sixties swing; of Best enjoying a carefree kickabout with the Parkinsons' children in the family garden; and selected transcripts from their endlessly fascinating interviews. 'Where did it all go wrong?' is the punchline to a famous Best story. George Best: A Memoir provides Michael Parkinson's considered response to the question while bringing fresh insight into the footballing genius that made Best one of the immortals and the self-destructive side of his character.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 9 December 2010. A distillation of over 2,000 interviews that Michael Parkinson conducted throughout his TV career. His chosen interviews range from the arts to sports and politics; memorable conversations, intimate glimpses into private lives, humour and sadness. A collection reminding us all of the stellar names that have succumbed to the Parky treatment. Like for Like ReadingParky: My Autobiography, Michael Parkinson And They All Sang: Great Musicians Talk About Their Music, Studs Terkel The Lovereading view... In Parky’s People, Parkinson sets down on record the highlights of his interviews which provide an intimate insight into the private lives and personal characters of great celebrities, even the most reticent, from around the world. From Tony Blair and Henry Kissinger, John Betjeman and WH Auden, to Ken Dodd, Elton John, Fred Astaire and Ingrid Bergman. Always perceptive, witty, often wise, his TV programme was essential viewing and now this book is never less than compulsive reading. Remarkable interviews with Edith Evans and Ben Travers demonstrate that Parkinson’s empathy with the old is as evident as his easy familiarity with sportsmen like George Best, Muhammad Ali and David Beckham. Great comics such as Billy Connolly, Bob Hope, and Morecambe and Wise prove as funny on the page as on screen and it seems that the star of every Hollywood legend shines brightly under Parkinson’s subtle questioning.
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