SIR MICHAEL Parkinson has declared that the style of interviewing that endeared him to millions of television viewers has gone, probably for good.
In an interview with The Yorkshire Post, the veteran broadcaster said none of the current generation of chat show hosts like Graham Norton, Jonathan Ross and Piers Morgan replicate the work of Russell Harty, Sir David Frost or himself.
“It’s gone. It’s like jazz music, you can’t hear it anymore,” he said. “I’m sure there are some young eager beavers out there, men and women, who would do a very classic talk show, an interview programme, but nobody seems very interested.
“Not that I’m volunteering - I’ve done my stint.”
He praised the “wonderful” Norton as the best of the bunch, but said his show is based on entertainment value rather than good interviewing.
The same is true of Ross, whose show is “an event thing with everybody having a good time and being daft”, while Morgan is “a mover for sure” and “has always been a good interviewer” but is let down by the intrusive format of his show, Sir Michael said.
The 79-year-old was in Leeds yesterday to receive the lifetime achievement award at the Variety children’s charity fundraising lunch, an honour he described as “equivalent to a Yorkshire cap” in cricket.
Sir Michael also bemoaned the bureaucracy that has entered the BBC, but fiercely defended the corporation against those enemies that would like to see its end.
He said: “I was very lucky that when I was there it was run by programme makers... They were either very good journalists or very good at showbusiness. They weren’t bureaucrats. Now it seems to me there are more bureaucrats than anything else. It shows in the broadcasting.”
When he was at the BBC, he could visit Bill Cotton, the populist light entertainment chief, and they would discuss an idea over a drink; if it was a good idea, he would go out and make it, said Sir Michael.
“Nowadays it would take about three years to circumnavigate the varous committees it would have to pass through before it passed under his nose,” he said.
“But I’m a BBC man through and through and think it’s the greatest broadcasting system throughout the world.”
Sir Michael would not be drawn on the question of who he thought was the greatest living Yorkshireman, a topic of hot debate after Prime Minister David Cameron said former Foreign Secretary William Hague held the title, provoking protest from Yorkshire cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott who said “what about Parky, Paul Sykes, Alan Bennett and me!?”