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Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 13:01 GMT
Parkinson attacks TV talk shows
Talk show host Michael Parkinson
This year marks the Parkinson show's 30th anniversary
Veteran talk show host Michael Parkinson has dismissed the last 20 years of British chat shows as "gimmicky, loud, vulgar, disjointed and totally incomprehensible".

He launched the scathing attack on hosts and producers, saying standards of talk shows have dropped sharply since his original Parkinson show ended in 1982.

The show returned to British screens in 1998 and the first of his latest series attracted six million viewers.

The public aren't daft. If you can't do your job, television shows you up terribly

Michael Parkinson
"The show I do ain't Pulitzer Prize," he said. "But - by Christ - compared to [the others], it is. They don't last because they're not very good."

The straight-talking Yorkshireman aimed his criticism at personalities who are offered shows but find themselves out of their depth.

"The public aren't daft," Parkinson told the Independent newspaper.

"If you can't do your job, television shows you up terribly. The producers are to blame for putting on the spot people who are palpably unable to cope with what is required.

"You wouldn't ask someone who is tone deaf to take Nigel Kennedy's place playing a violin concerto, would you?"

Ex-footballer Ian Wright
Wright: Now hosting a show on BBC Radio 5Live
Parkinson has previously criticised personalities such as former footballer Ian Wright and the Duchess of York, who hosted a chat show on Sky One.

He also said that he insisted on sticking to his tried and tested formula when the BBC invited him back.

"I'd seen all the shows that had replaced mine, and I hadn't approved of the way the talk show had gone. It was like most TV - gimmicky, very loud, vulgar, disjointed and totally incomprehensible.

"It had become a vehicle for the interviewer and not for the person they were interviewing. The received wisdom was that that was what the public wanted, but why hasn't anybody made a success of it since I left?"


He also described the differences within the BBC between when he left and when he returned. The biggest change, he says, is the number of women who have joined the corporation.

"The BBC isn't gender-blind, but I think it's getting that way," he says.

"When I left the BBC in 1981, it was still the biggest television factory in the world and that was what it was here for.

"That's changed. There's more of a feeling that it's an office now. The BBC and ITV have been broken up and the independents have moved in.

"It's like the old days of Hollywood - they've gone now, and it's never going to be like it used to."

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