Talk show legend Sir Michael Parkinson’s family wept in the audience at what appeared to be his last public appearance just 10 weeks ago.
The “King of the Chat Show,” affectionately known as “Parky” by friends and fans alike, passed away on August 16 surrounded by his wife, Lady Mary, and their children at his Berkshire home.
In May, Parky admitted he was “out of breath” when he took the stage at the Hay Festival in Wales to browse the archives of his iconic TV show.
Family members were at the back of the venue and were seen hugging and wiping tears as he made his final bow before signing books for fans.
He told the audience, “I’m a little bloated, I had an illness that took my breath away so forgive me if I sound like I just ran a four-minute mile.”
Emotional: The family of talk show legend Sir Michael Parkinson cried in the audience at what seemed like his last public appearance just 10 weeks ago
MailOnline was on hand to see the veteran interviewer pay tribute to his sports heroes Mohammed Ali, George Best, Freddie Trueman and Shane Warne.
Sue Newlands, 66, who was in the audience, said: “It felt like a final goodbye, it was very moving.”
“He faded as the interview progressed and towards the end it became a bit difficult to understand.”
“But he got a standing ovation and that doesn’t happen often with Hay.”
“I think a lot of people got the impression that he wouldn’t go much longer.”
Ms Newlands shook hands with Parkinson at the signing of his book ‘My Sporting Life’ after his appearance on Hay on May 28.
Wearing a pair of black Nike trainers, the veteran talk show host charmed the sold-out 1,800-seat venue as he reminisced on highlights of his iconic TV show.
Parkinson said, “I’ve been very fortunate to meet all my heroes and some extraordinary people.” “We haven’t missed many.”
RIP: The ‘King of the Chat Show’, affectionately nicknamed ‘Parky’ by friends and fans alike, passed away on August 16th surrounded by his wife Lady Mary and their children at his home in Berkshire
Last appearance: In May, Parky admitted he ran out of breath when he took the stage at the Hay Festival in Wales to browse the archives of his iconic TV show
Excitement: Family members were at the back of the venue and were seen hugging and wiping tears as he made his final bow before signing books for fans
Of Ali, he added: “He was beautiful, 6’1″, slim and of perfect proportions – he wasn’t a bad speaker either.”
Parkinson, who was famously bullied on stage by the world heavyweight boxing champion, said Ali was an “enigma” and he never got to know him well.
But Parkinson became good friends with George Best, who he believed was the greatest footballer of all time before losing the battle to alcohol.
He explained, “It would never end in anything but tears.”
Parkinson also paid tribute to Barry Humphries, whom he interviewed a total of 14 times as Sir Les Patterson’s Dame Edna Everage, calling him “incomparable”.
The only star he interviewed more frequently was Sir Billy Connolly, who made 19 guest appearances on the legendary talk show’s two episodes.
An audience of 1800 gave Parkinson a standing ovation at the end of the emotional interview with his son Mike Parkinson.
Stars including Sir David Attenborough and Sir Elton John today paid an emotional tribute to Sir Michael after his death aged 88 on Thursday.
In tribute, Sir David Attenborough, 97, said interviewing him was “like meeting a friend” – and admitted his Yorkshire timbre was “very refreshing” at a time when upper-class southern accents were at the forefront of the BBC were common.
He said, “He was extremely generous, he wanted you to shine and was always laughing at your jokes and giving you a chance to make them sound funnier than they actually were.” “It was always kind, it was always thorough , it was always intelligent, it was always a pleasure to do, and I think that resonated no matter who his interviewee was.”
Sir Elton John said he “loves” spending time with Parky. “Michael Parkinson was a TV legend, one of the greats. I loved his company and his incredible knowledge of cricket and Barnsley Football Club. “A real icon who brought out the best in her guests,” he said. Sir Michael Caine called him “irreplaceable,” adding, “He was charming and always wanted a good laugh.” He brought the best of everyone he met. I always looked forward to being interviewed by him.’
BBC broadcaster Nick Robinson said on Twitter: “He was the greatest interviewer of our time to own Saturday Night TV year after year.” “Michael Parkinson – King of the Chat Show”.
The down-to-earth Yorkshireman, the son of a miner, became one of Britain’s most famous names after starring in groundbreaking interviews with Muhammad Ali, John Lennon, Billy Connolly, Orson Welles and most of the world’s biggest stars in an extraordinary interview with The Five Television career spanning decades.
There were also utterly hilarious – and awkward interviews – including an attack while speaking to Rod Hull and Emu, as well as the irritable Meg Ryan in 20 Years, bringing more than 2,000 BBC interviews to as many as 17million households on a Saturday night were transferred.
The Mail Online was on hand to see the veteran interviewer pay tribute to his sports heroes – Mohammed Ali (pictured together in 1974), George Best, Freddie Trueman and Shane Warne
Parkinson was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2008 for his services to television
He said his biggest regret was never being able to interview Frank Sinatra – and recently revealed that Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh is his most impressive interviewee.
Parky presented his show Parkinson on the BBC from 1971 to 1982 and again from 1998 to 2004. He then moved to ITV, where his chat show ran from 2004 to 2007. He was last seen in public in April. The cricket-mad journalist was frail while celebrating his friend Dickie Bird’s 90th birthday party in Headingley, Leeds. His last television appearance was last November.
A statement from Sir Michael’s family said: “After a short illness, Sir Michael Parkinson passed away peacefully last night at home surrounded by his family. The family are asking that they be given privacy and time to mourn.”
He is survived by his wife, Lady Mary Parkinson, and they lived together in Bray, Berkshire. They had three children, Michael Jr., Nicholas and Andrew. Sir Michael, the son of a Barnsley miner, and Lady Mary of nearby Doncaster met as young journalists and were married for 64 years.