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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 16:19 GMT
Parkinson bows out with honour
Michael Parkinson
Sir Michael criticised younger rivals in 2005 for being "smart arses"
Michael Parkinson has been made a knight in the New Year's Honours List only days after presenting his final chat show for ITV1 and his last radio programme for BBC Radio 2.

The 72-year-old's retirement brought to an end a career in the media spanning half a century.

This had begun on newspapers in his native Yorkshire and ended with him as one of the UK's best-known interviewers.

Born on 28 March 1935 in Cudworth, near Barnsley, Parkinson established himself as a journalist at the Daily Express, where he was a feature writer.

Later he had a sports column in the Sunday Times.

He moved into current affairs at Granada Television, working on World in Action and What the Papers Say, as well as hosting a series on cinema.

But a switch to the BBC in 1971 saw him beginning an 11-year run of the Saturday-night chat show which would make him a household name.

Muhammad Ali and Michael Parkinson in 1974
Boxer Muhammad Ali was among the guests during his initial BBC run
"Parky" interviewed guests such as boxer Muhammad Ali, ex-Beatle John Lennon, comedian Billy Connolly and even members of the Royal family, including Princess Anne.

Famously he was attacked by glove puppet Emu when children's personality Rod Hull was on his programme in 1976, and he also interviewed Muppets star Miss Piggy two years later.

He defected to ITV in 1982 to become one of the original "famous five" presenters on breakfast station TV-am.

This was followed by a three-year stint on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, where he was successor to the late Roy Plomley, who had created the castaway show.

Sir Michael's chat show was relaunched by the BBC in 1998 on Friday evenings.

Michael Parkinson and George Best in 1975
Millions tuned in on Saturday nights to see stars such as George Best
Parkinson was soon moved to its traditional Saturday home after attracting large audiences and high-profile guests such as Sir Elton John, David Beckham, Nicole Kidman and Meg Ryan, with whom he had a rather frosty encounter.

However, he moved over to ITV once again in 2004, unhappy at the prospect of BBC One putting its newly-acquired Premier League football highlights in his timeslot with the relaunch of Match of the Day.

Guaranteed a Saturday night slot by ITV, he continued to attract guests of the calibre of Tony Blair, who was prime minister at the time, wildlife presenter Sir David Attenborough and singer George Michael.

He also kept up a weekly show on BBC Radio 2 - the Sunday Supplement, for which he won a Sony Award - and wrote a sports column for the Daily Telegraph.

Michael Parkinson and Miss Piggy in 1978
Sir Michael was attacked by Emu but then Miss Piggy was more gentle
He ended his Radio 2 slot in December 2007.

His last chat show for ITV1, a fortnight later, attracted an audience of 8.3 million, with guests including Connolly, actress Dame Judi Dench and comedian Peter Kay.

Sir Michael has received numerous accolades during his career.

These have included a Bafta for best light entertainment performance, the prize for best chat show host at the National Television Awards, and the Variety Club's media personality of the year.

He became a CBE seven years ago and, on learning of his knighthood, said he was "stunned".

"I've got a CBE which seemed to be good enough," he said.

"I didn't think I was the type to get a knighthood quite frankly, coming from Barnsley. They'll give it to anyone these days!"

Sir Michael has been married to his wife Mary since 1959. They have three children.



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