Si Michael Parkinson appeared all smiles as he celebrated what proved to be his final birthday in Mayfair earlier this year.
The veteran talk show host, whose death was announced earlier today, was pictured at celebrity haunt Scott’s in west London as he marked his 88th birthday on March 31.
Parkinson was dressed in a plaid grey sports jacket, with black drawstring trousers, a grey sweater over a light blue shirt and black moccasin shoes as he marked the big day.
‘Parky’ – as he was fondly known to generations of TV viewers – enjoyed a three-course slap-up meal at the restaurant.
Afterwards, he was pictured smiling at the press photographers outside while leaving the venue with a friend.
A valet followed Parkinson as he exited on to the street and assisted him into a vehicle.
Sir Michael Parkinson celebrates after his 88th birthday with a slap up meal at celebrity haunt Scott’s in Mayfair on March 31
Sir Michael was all smiles as he left the restaurant with a friend
Sir Michael was all smiles as he left the restaurant with a friend
Sir Michael was assisted into the passenger seat of a car by a valet
The retired chat show host appeared to notice the cameras as he bid adieu to his friend
Parky chatted amiably with staff as he left celebrity hotspot Scott’s in Mayfair on March 31
Tributes have poured in across the world of entertainment over the broadcaster’s death. The longevity of Parky’s talk show, from 1971 to 1982 and again from 1998 to 2007 made him the ‘king’ of Britain’s chat shows.
The show’s format and Parkinson’s own unconfrontational, ‘chatty’ interview style set the blueprint for the chat shows which have followed in its wake.
Parky’s jaunt in Mayfair was just three weeks before his last public appearance on April 19, when he celebrated his friend Dickie Bird’s 90th birthday bash.
During Bird’s birthday festivities, Parkinson appeared noticeably frail.
His final TV appearance was last November.
A statement from Sir Michael’s family said: ‘After a brief illness Sir Michael Parkinson passed away peacefully at home last night in the company of his family. The family request that they are given privacy and time to grieve.’
He is survived by his wife Mary Parkinson and they lived together in Bray, Berkshire. They had three children, Michael Jr, Nicholas and Andrew. Sir Michael, from Barnsley, and Lady Mary, from nearby Doncaster, met as young journalists and enjoyed a 64-year marriage.
In 2013, he spoke openly about being diagnosed with prostate cancer following a routine health check. But his family said today that his death was as a result of a brief illness.
Parkinson was dressed in a plaid grey sports jacket, with black drawstring trousers, a grey sweater over a light blue shirt and black moccasin shoes as he enjoyed his birthday
The longevity of Parky’s talk show, from 1971 to 1982 and again from 1998 to 2007 made him the ‘king’ of Britain’s chat shows
The show’s format and Parkinson’s own unconfrontational, ‘chatty’ interview style set the blueprint for the chat shows which have followed in its wake
Parky’s birthday celebration in Mayfair on March 31 proved to be his penultimate final appearance
Parkinson’s birthday trip was followed by his final public appearance less than three weeks later on April 19, celebrating friend cricket umpire Dickie Bird’s 90th birthday
Tributes have poured in across the world of entertainment after the veteran’s broadcaster’s death
Sir Michael pictured leaving Mayfair after he celebrated his 88th birthday on March 31
After 20 years on the BBC, his last major series was as the host of two seasons of Parkinson: Masterclass on Sky Arts in 2012 and 2013
All in all, Parkinson (right) racked up 2,000 interviews over the years with some of the best-known names from all walks of life, including royalty
Parky began his journalism career reporting for his hometown paper the Barnsley Chronicle, The Guardian and then the Daily Express before moving into broadcasting, first at ITV’s Granada and then to the BBC.
All in all, Parkinson racked up 2,000 interviews over the years with some of the best-known names from all walks of life, including royalty.
After 20 years on the BBC, his last major series was as the host of two seasons of Parkinson: Masterclass on Sky Arts in 2012 and 2013.
In his 2022 book My Life in Sport: Memories, Moments and Declarations, the presenter revealed his most formidable guest was the Duke of Edinburgh, who he suspects took a dislike to the broadcaster right from the start.
‘I did have to chat to him once, for a charity, and it was not a success – at all,’ he confessed.
The TV star, who lived in Berkshire with his wife Mary, has previously spoken about his long-running chat show.
Of his heyday – which saw him sit down one-on-one, often for a whole hour, with the likes of Orson Welles, Madonna and David and Victoria Beckham – he said: ‘I had the best of it, in terms of the guests I could choose from. The older ones and the newer ones, and also the kind of television that was being shown in those days. It was bliss.’
Of his favourites, Parkinson counted iconic footballer George Best, with whom he developed a deep friendship before his premature death aged 59, following a liver transplant.
Sir Michael Parkinson, pictured with his friend and famous interviewee Muhammad Ali, has died aged 88
Celebrations: The broadcaster was last seen in April with his friend and cricket umpire Dickie Bird (pictured), who was celebrating his 90th birthday in Leeds
Classic: In 1971, he spoke to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, in one of his earliest episodes of his seminal show
Michael Parkinson interviewing Rod Hull and Emu in 1976 where he was famously, and comically, attacked
Parky was married to his wife Lady Mary since 1959. He died surrounded by his family
Footballer George Best (right) was one of Michael Parkinson’s favourite guests and became a close friend
Parky in 2007 with Peter Kay where he was dressed as a lollipop man on his final BBC show
Parkinson was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to television in 2008
He also counted Sir Billy Connolly among his favourite interviews, and praised the comedian as ‘a natural funny man’. His series of successful appearances on the show put Sir Billy Connolly, then a jobbing Scottish comedian and singer, on the road to worldwide fame.
Reacting to the news, BBC broadcaster Nick Robinson said on Twitter: ‘He was the greatest interviewer of our age who owned Saturday night TV for year after year.
‘Michael Parkinson – king of the chat show – has died.’
Meanwhile former BBC News anchor Simon McCoy tweeted: ‘Simply the Best. Anyone who was anyone was interviewed by him.
‘What an amazing career he had. Thoughts with his family.’
The director-general of the BBC has also paid tribute to Sir Michael Parkinson as ‘the king of the chat show’ and an ‘incredible broadcaster and journalist’.
In a statement, Tim Davie said: ‘Michael was the king of the chat show and he defined the format for all the presenters and shows that followed.
‘He interviewed the biggest stars of the 20th century and did so in a way that enthralled the public. Michael was not only brilliant at asking questions, he was also a wonderful listener.
‘Michael was truly one of a kind, an incredible broadcaster and journalist who will be hugely missed.’
Comedian Stephen Fry has said being interviewed by Sir Michael Parkinson was ‘impossibly thrilling’.
On Instagram, Fry wrote: ‘The genius of Parky was that (unlike most people (and most of his guests, me included) he was always 100% himself. On camera and off. ‘Authentic’ is the word I suppose.
‘For one of the shows I was on with Robin Williams, a genius of unimaginable comic speed and brilliance. Now they’re both gone.
‘One should get used to the parade of people constantly falling off the edge, but frankly one doesn’t. So long Parky.’
His friend and former colleague Anne Diamond told MailOnline: ‘I worked with him at TVam and I loved him. He ‘taught the world’ to interview – with fun, integrity, and no fawning! I’m proud to have known and worked with him. I send all my love and deepest sympathies to his family and especially Mary. ‘
Lord Alan Sugar tweeted: ‘Very sad news on the passing of Michael Parkinson. End of a (sic) era RIP.’
Mark Wells, who was executive producer of Parkinson’s TV talk show between 2004 and 2007, said: ‘Sir Michael Parkinson was one of the giants of British broadcasting.
‘His charisma, sense of humour and endlessly inquiring mind made his talk show unmissable television. He was at heart an exceptional journalist, and that – combined with his love of show business – made him our greatest talk show host ever.’
British singer and actress Elaine Paige paid tribute to Sir Michael Parkinson describing him as a ‘legendary interviewer’.
Sharing a picture of the pair on X, formerly Twitter, she said: ‘Such very sad breaking news that Sir Michael Parkinson has died.
‘Have known him for many years, sang on his TV chat show & attended many events with him.
‘A legendary interviewer that will be remembered as the best of his profession. We will never see his like again.’