Dame Helen Mirren’s new perspective on ‘sexist’ Michael Parkinson interview

Oct 05, 2023
Mirren stressed that she wasn't out to "diss Parky," highlighting commendable moments in his stellar career. Source: Getty Images.

In the realm of memorable television moments, the 1975 interview between Dame Helen Mirren and iconic television host Michael Parkinson has left a lasting mark. Although widely condemned as a glaring instance of sexism in media, Mirren has now shared her new take on this incident in a recent interview.

During the tense exchange, the two British icons engaged in a dialogue that raised eyebrows, as Parkinson questioned whether the future Oscar winner’s “physical attributes” might have posed any hindrance to her acting career.

“Because serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?” Mirren responded at the time.

In response, the host suggested that her body could be perceived as a “distraction” by some in the industry.

“I can’t think that can necessarily be true. I mean, what a crummy performance if people are obsessed with the size of your bosom or anything else,” Mirren emphatically declared.

“I would hope that the performance, and the play, and the living relationship between all the people on stage and all the people in the audience will overcome such boring questions.”

The interview was widely labelled “sexist” in the ensuing years with Mirren herself referring to Parkinson as a “sexist old fart”.

Discussion about the interview came to the fore after the clip resurfaced following the passing of Parkison earlier this year.

Now in a recent interview with Radio Times, Mirren opened up about her evolving perspective on the infamous interview.

“I didn’t feel sorry for Parky, but then in a way I did because in lots of ways he was right. My physicality did get in the way of me being taken seriously as a classical actress,” she revealed.

In an acknowledgment of the changing times, she added, “They really do change. And fast. And we can only kick down the patriarchy one brick at a time.”

Mirren stressed that she wasn’t out to “diss Parky”, highlighting commendable moments in his career such as his notable interview with Sir Elton John after the music icon was “outed in a bad way” in the press.

Mirren praised Parkinson for extending a helping hand to Sir Elton during a crucial moment in his life and career.

“He held out a hand and helped Elton John at a very important moment,” she said.

Parkinson passed away on Wednesday, August 16 at the age of 88.

A statement from Parkinson’s family, at the time, 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.

Following his passing, friends and family gathered to bid a fond farewell to the legendary broadcaster in a “dignified send-off” befitting of the beloved icon.

The private funeral, held at St. Michael’s Church, brought together 90 0f Parkinson’s close friends and family to celebrate a remarkable life that touched the hearts of many across the globe.

One of the most touching moments during the service occurred when Parkinson’s family placed a cherished cricket cap in his coffin. Cricket was more than just a sport to him, it was a passion that he carried with him throughout his life.

Alongside the cricket cap, a red and white Barnsley FC scarf, a nod to his beloved football club, was also tenderly placed in the casket.

Parkinson’s sons, Michael Jr and Andrew, delivered tributes to their beloved dad

A source told The Sun: “It was a very dignified send-off for a man who remained understated and classy to the end.”

“Everyone was in good spirits remembering him and his achievements. It was perfect,” the source said.

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