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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Parky's reign as king of TV chat
Michael Parkinson, who has announced he is bringing his chat show career to an end after more than three decades, is regarded by millions as the undisputed king of the format.

Michael Parkinson
There are few stars Parkinson has not welcomed onto his chat show
"Parky" first hosted his celebrity interview show in 1971 and would welcome hundreds of guests to BBC Television Centre in west London over the next 11 years.

Some of his memorable guests included Muhammad Ali, Richard Burton, John Lennon and Princess Anne.

Kenneth Williams and Billy Connolly became regular fixtures, and in 1976 he was memorably attacked by Rod Hull and his glove puppet Emu.

Despite his popularity, Parkinson's Saturday night show ended in 1982 - only to return in 1998 on Friday nights.

The show once again attracted top celebrity names, from David Beckham and Robbie Williams to Nicole Kidman and Sir Elton John.

Buoyed by excellent viewing figures, it soon returned to its traditional Saturday evening slot.

Not every show went smoothly, however, as shown by a frosty encounter in 2003 with the actress Meg Ryan.

Current affairs

When Premiership football highlights returned to Match of the Day in 2004 prompting talk of a change to his coveted time slot, Parkinson felt his position was untenable.

Even so, his high-profile move to ITV1 took many by surprise.

Michael Parkinson with Muhammad Ali in 1974
His encounter with Muhammad Ali was among his most celebrated
Since the switch, his Saturday night show has continued to attract large audiences and big star names - among them singer George Michael and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Parkinson was born in 1935 in Cudworth, near Barnsley, and was educated at Barnsley Grammar School.

He learned his trade on local newspapers in Yorkshire before becoming a feature writer on the Daily Express in London.

His early experience was in current affairs at Granada Television, where he worked on World in Action and What the Papers Say.

In 1965 he began writing a weekly sports column for the Sunday Times.

Outspoken attacks

Four years later he took over as host of Granada's Cinema series before going on to present Thames Television's afternoon show Teabreak with his wife Mary.

But it was his Saturday night chat show that sealed his reputation, running for 361 editions and attracting millions of viewers each week.

Michael Parkinson with Meg Ryan, 2003
He deemed Meg Ryan "unhappy" following a frosty chat in 2003
Other ventures have proved less successful, notably his involvement as one of the original "famous five" presenters of ITV's TV-am breakfast news show.

In recent years, though, he has consolidated his revived popularity with a radio show on BBC Radio Two and another sports column, this time for the Daily Telegraph.

Parkinson has been outspoken in his attacks on other chat shows, dismissing them as "gimmicky, loud, vulgar and totally incomprehensible".

In an interview in 2005, he criticised younger, rival chat show hosts for being " smart arses".

Parkinson, who was awarded the CBE in 2000, recently appeared as himself in an edition of Australian soap Neighbours.

He is currently President of the Sports Journalists' Association.


SEE ALSO
Parkinson quits as talk show host
26 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Parkinson rounds on chat rivals
04 Oct 05 |  Entertainment
Parkinson takes chat show to ITV
26 Apr 04 |  Entertainment
Parkinson attacks TV talk shows
06 Mar 01 |  Entertainment

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