A Bafta beckons for Parkinson

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The Independent Online
THERE'S NO chat-show host like an old chat-show host. Michael Parkinson, brought back to the BBC after two decades, has been nominated for a Bafta television award for his show. He might have to present it to himself, as he is hosting the ceremony next month.

He will vie with Billy Connolly, Kathy Burke and John Bird and John Fortune for best light-entertainment performance. Parkinson has been nominated for a Bafta award once before, for the controversial spoof participation programme Ghost Watch. "I think I got the nomination for best actor, and I was playing myself," he said.

Others in the running for awards, to be made on 9 May, are Thora Hird, Francesca Annis, Natasha Little and Joanna Lumley for best actress.

Best-actor contenders are Robert Carlyle, Tom Courtenay, Albert Finney and Timothy Spall. The soap category, included for the first time, will be fought out between Brookside, Coronation Street, EastEnders and Hollyoaks.

Parkinson left impartiality aside when asked who he wanted to win. "It would be unfair to say, but I have great regard for Thora Hird. She is one of the great faces of British theatre, and it would be wonderful if she won an award." Dame Thora, 87, has already picked up awards from the Royal Television Society for her performance in Talking Heads: Waiting for the Telegram on BBC2.

Parkinson said: "There has been an astonishing number of BBC nominations. They have something like 77 people mentioned, which is quite extraordinary when you think about it. That is a point we might consider when the debate about the licence fee comes up. The BBC is still an extraordinary factory for producing quality television." His show has always appeared on the BBC.

The BBC's Vanity Fair has been nominated for best actress (Natasha Little) and best drama serial.