My Mentor: Jono Coleman on Michael Parkinson

'His only advice to me before i interviewed Cher was "don't mention the wig"'




"I've known Parky since 1980 when I was a TV reporter in Australia on Wonder World - it's like an Australian version of Blue Peter. I really wanted to interview him and he said he'd do it if I came up with something off-beat. So I interviewed him on the pitch of Sydney Cricket Ground, me and him sitting in the middle on directors chairs, with guys in cricket whites running back and forth with the questions.

He has been an on-and-off friend ever since and given me some fantastic advice. The best bit is for when you're interviewing someone: listen to what they're saying; don't think about the next question. The answer will always introduce new topics and there's a far more natural rhythm. And if you get a 'Yes' or a 'No' answer, then always come back with 'Why?'.

He has fantastic timing and ways of meandering around something awkward until he's on to a topic the guest otherwise wouldn't discuss.

He has also told me to throw in a few curveballs, so in my research I've tried to find out what the interviewee does in their spare time - 'So, you've just become a grandfather...' or 'I hear you've taken up poker'. Parky told me always to have those kind of nuggets, if you can.

He's also indirectly introduced me to Dave Allen, Chris Langham, Jimmy Mulville, John Cleese and Spike, among many others.

The best recent advice I've had from him was when we went for lunch together the day I interviewed Cher. He'd had her on the show the previous Saturday and when I told him I was interviewing her, he said: 'Oh my God, good luck. Have a few more glasses of wine and don't mention the wig.'

I've even bumped into him in Sydney. Once when he was in a restaurant there I wandered up behind him and started humming the theme tune to his show: 'Tonight, we have a guest straight from Sydney...' He turned around and laughed: 'Fucking Jono Coleman, I should have known.'

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