The iconic Dame Judi Dench has opened up about her memories of the late Michael Parkinson, paying tribute to his legendary interviewing skills and the lasting impact he had on the entertainment industry.
Parkinson passed away on Wednesday, August 16 at the age of 88.
A statement from Parkinson’s family confirmed his passing following a brief illness.
“After a brief illness Sir Michael Parkinson passed away peacefully at home last night in the company of his family,” the statement read.
“The family request that they are given privacy and time to grieve.”
As the world and those close to him grapple to come to terms with his passing, Dench recently spoke to BBC Radio 4 about what it was like to be interviewed by the chat show icon.
“I don’t remember being frightened of being interviewed by Michael, because it was just like talking to a really good friend,” she said.
“He’d done all his homework… and he didn’t mind whether it kind of went off piste a bit.
“I mean he and Billy (Connolly) were wonderful together.”
Dench’s kind words follow an outpouring of tributes that were made to Parkinson from fans and fellow celebrities from all corners of the world in a testament to the profound impact he had on the world of broadcasting and the lives he touched.
Parkinson’s journey in journalism began after his school years, where he became a features writer for the Manchester Guardian and later the Daily Express in London.
In the 1960s, he stepped into television, contributing to news programs for the BBC and Granada Television in Manchester.
Between March 1966 and January 1968, Parkinson joined the team for the BBC1 daily news magazine show Twenty-Four Hours. The next year, he took charge of Granada’s Cinema, a late-night film review program, where he had his first encounter with the legendary Laurence Olivier.
By July 1971, his self-titled show, Parkinson, began on the BBC. This show became his hallmark and ran until April 1982, returning from January 1998 to December 2007.
Over his career, Parkinson interviewed around 2,000 celebrities.
In recognition of his contributions, he received the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2000 Birthday Honours. He was ranked eighth in the British Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programs and twentieth in ITV’s TV’s 50 Greatest Stars.
In 2008, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
Adding to his legacy, the National Portrait Gallery displayed a portrait of him by artist Jonathan Yeo in 2010, solidifying his place in British culture.