Simon Kelner: Parky might feel a bit chilly coming in from the cold

Kelner's view

Share

I can't read, or even think, anything about Michael Parkinson without that theme music playing in my head. For those of us of a certain age, it was the soundtrack to our Saturday nights.

Written by the organist Harry Stoneham, it signalled the moment when it seemed like the whole of Britain would be united in its viewing habit. We didn't have 120 channels, the Internet, iPads, games consoles and Twitter competing for our attention in those days, so we were able to concentrate on proper one-on-one interviewing – without gimmicks, without audience participation and without the introduction of props for comic effect. It was just Parky and his guests exchanging words, with the intention of providing entertainment through elucidation, an art that has rather disappeared these days. World leaders, movie stars, sporting icons, political figures would be happy to subject themselves to Parky's polite but persistent inquisition, knowing that they would get a good hearing.

In a career that has spanned the best part of five decades, Parky has worked for both BBC and ITV and has interviewed more than 2,000 guests, some of whom didn't have a TV series, film or book to promote. His canon goes from Muhammad Ali to David Beckham, from Harold Wilson to Tony Blair, from Bing Crosby to Justin Timberlake. He "retired" in 2007, but has now been persuaded back to the screen for a six-part series which begins next month on Sky Arts in which Parky will conduct an in-depth interview with a significant cultural figure.

Will it work? Does he still have the magic? Will an audience brought up on the risqué style of Jonathan Ross or Graham Norton warm to his bluff, understated Yorkshire charm? It's hard to know, but it's certain that this show will have have a distinct flavour; more intelligent, less irreverent and, dare I say it, more old fashioned. On that subject, he's already been written off by the journal you might reasonably expect to be supportive of a man reviving his career at the age of 77. The current issue of The Oldie has a feature entitled "What Went Wrong with Parky?", in which a writer called Jeremy Hornsby, a former colleague of Parkinson, claims that the interviewer lost sight of his serious purpose, directing the show towards light entertainment rather than journalism. I must declare an interest at this point: I have known Parkinson for a number of years – not well, I stress – and have found him always to be self-effacing, hospitable and devoid of anything you might call celebrity syndrome.

Refreshingly, he doesn't take himself too seriously and says that his career was built on the good fortune of having so many extraordinary figures in showbusiness, sport and the arts willing to talk freely and frankly. He might have a bit more difficulty this time round.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Portfolio Analyst/ PMO

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I was a Woman Against Feminism too

Siobhan Norton
A screengrab taken on July 13, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, showing the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau  

Boko Haram is a vicious sideshow - Nigeria's self-serving elite is the real culprit

Kevin Watkins
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn