Michael Parkinson admitted his interview with Helen Mirren in 1975 wouldn’t fly by today’s standards (Picture: BBC)
Michael Parkinson looked back at his stellar interviewing career in a special programme celebrating 50 years on screen, leaving viewers nostalgic.
Viewers were treated to clips from Parkinson’s career, including chats with Billy Connolly, Muhammad Ali and Lauren Bacall as he looked back on all of the famous names he had interviewed through the years.
One of Parkinson’s most famous interviews was with Dame Helen Mirren in 1975, in which he asked the actress: ‘Do you find, in fact, that this, what could be best described as your equipment, in fact hinders you perhaps in that pursuit? Well, your physical attributes. Your figure.’
Mirren replied: ‘Serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?’, with the interviewer saying: ‘I think that they might detract from the performance, if you know what I mean.’
Parkinson had previously refused to apologise for the comments, but admitted in the programme that the comments would be ‘sexist by today’s standards’ though says it was a different time in the 1970s.
He explained: ‘The situation of that was that she arrived on the show, I thought, not respecting the show by dressing in a certain way.
‘That was a foolish attitude by me. I don’t know, there was something about the set-up that didn’t suit me.’
Parkinson added: ‘By today’s standards, by today’s perception of relationships, which have changed since those days, I mean let’s be fair about it, I plead guilty to that.
‘I’m a man of the time I’m in and I’ll cop for all of it, it doesn’t matter.’
Despite the occasional gaffe, viewers were largely loving seeing Parky, 86, back on screens and called for him to once again have his own show.
They tweeted: ‘Watching ‘Parkinson at 50’ – 50 years of celebrity interviews. He’s the best talk show host in the business. Many of those twinkling movie stars he’s interviewed over the years have sadly faded with time.’
Others added: ‘#ParkinsonAt50 easily one of the best interviewers ever. Proved by the quality & quantity of the Guests he interviewed’ and ‘Watching Parkinson at 50, what a lovely program to watch. The consummate professional as always. Clips of the old stars of stage, screen and sport he interviewed, and I mean REAL stars. It’s like being reunited with a long lost friend. Lovely.’
Fans also commented that there were no other interviewers quite like Parkinson nowadays, adding: ‘Watching #ParkinsonAt50 on @BBCOne is a stark reminder of what brilliant entertainment interviewing was like, and sadly how nobody can do this any more, or is allowed the time to have a proper conversation without the interviewer thinking the show is about them.’