Michael Parkinson: Attenborough among stars saying goodbye to 'best interviewer in the business'

The TV star died after a brief illness

FILE - Michael Parkinson poses for the media after being awarded a CBE at Buckingham Palace in London, Nov. 24, 2000. Michael Parkinson, the renowned British broadcaster who interviewed everyone from Muhammed Ali, David Bowie and Miss Piggy, has died. He was 88. In a statement Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023 to the BBC, his family said Parkinson died “peacefully at home last night in the company of his family.
Michael Parkinson has died. (Pool Photo via AP)

Michael Parkinson was remembered as "the best interviewer in the business" after he died at the age of 88.

The TV star's family said in a statement that he passed away at home after a brief illness.

Sir David Attenborough was among those to pay tribute, telling BBC Radio 4’s The World At One: "As a viewer, you knew if Michael was asking the questions, there were going to be good questions, and they would elicit good answers."

Read more: 50 years of Michael Parkinson interviews: His most iconic chat show moments

The star said when he was controller of BBC Two that he thought Parkinson was the “best freelance interviewer in the business”.

He said: "He was always knowledgeable, he was absolutely classless. You knew he was not a southerner, you knew he was a northerner, and that was a very refreshing voice in those days.

"You knew that he would do his homework, and that he would ask questions that didn't occur to you, as well as those that did. I thought he was the best interviewer in the business at that time."

David Beckham shared a picture of him and wife Victoria with Parkinson and referred to the fact that his famous nickname came up during an interview with the late star.

"We say goodbye to the best…" he said on Instagram.

"Waking up to the sad news of Michael Parkinson passing, I was so lucky to not just be interviewed by Michael but to be able to spend precious time talking about football and family our 2 passions plus the GoldenBalls moment…

"Sending love to Mary and the whole family."

Piers Morgan said he had "loved" the TV star.

"Wonderful character, great writer, sublimely talented broadcaster, and hilarious lunch partner," he said on Instagram.

BBC director general Tim Davie also paid tribute, saying: "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."

Singer Elaine Paige shared a picture of them together on Twitter as she wrote: "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."

Lord Sugar wrote: "Very sad news on the passing of Michael Parkinson.

"End of a era RIP."

File photo dated 24/02/2014 of chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson, who has died at the age of 88. Issue date: Thursday August 17, 2023.
Tributes poured in after the star's death. (PA Images/Alamy)

Eddie Izzard tweeted: "Very sad to hear that Michael Parkinson has left us.

"He was the king of the intelligent interview."

Eamonn Holmes said it was a "privilege" to have known the late star.

He tweeted: "Parky. King of The Chat Show Hosts.

"A privilege to know him on and off screen and to learn from him.

"They don't make them like that anymore. Rip Sir Michael Parkinson."

Matt Lucas said the star was "a titan of television, the ultimate chat show host".

"We'll never forget his brilliant interviews with Muhammad Ali, Dame Edna, Billy Connolly and, of course, 'that bloody emu'," he said.

Read more: Sir Michael Parkinson embarrassed by how 'posh' he spoke in early TV days

Radio star Mike Read posted: "So sad to hear about Sir Michael Parkinson. An interviewer who only had to touch the tiller...and a keen cricket fan...we were discussing Statham, Washbrook & Worrell at length only a few weeks ago @TalkingPicsTV Pictures TV.

"A standing ovation on the final walk to the pavilion."

Watch: Michael Parkinson looks back on his early TV days with embarrassment