Michael Parkinson pinpoints 'extraordinary' interview that stands out
How Sir Michael Parkinson revealed his favourite interview which stood out among the rest over his 50-year TV career – and it wasn’t a celebrity
- Michael Parkinson revealed his most ‘extraordinary’ interview last year
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Dubbed as the ‘King of the chat show,’ Michael Parkinson was one of the world’s most iconic interviewers.
Throughout his star-studded career, he interviewed some of the biggest household names including Muhammad Ali, Sir Elton John, Tom Cruise, Helen Mirren and George Michael.
Sir Michael, also known as ‘Parky’, spoke with more than 2,000 guests over the four decades his chat show ‘Parkinson’ ran.
The show initially ran on the BBC from 1971 until 1982 – it was then relaunched on the channel in 1998, before moving to ITV in 2004.
Last year, the iconic presenter revealed which interview was his favourite, and it’s not what you would expect.
The most ‘extraordinary’ interview was not with a high-profile celebrity but instead with a scientist who fascinated him.
Last year, the iconic presenter revealed which interview was his favourite, and it’s not who you would expect
Speaking to the Sunday Morning Herald, Sir Michael revealed that his ‘favourite interview of all’ was with Professor Jacob Bronowski.
He said ‘the guy who did ‘The Ascent of Man’. He was my favourite interview of all, because of the way his brain worked, and he just had this wonderful methodical way about him, and an extraordinary way of telling his story.’
When asked the same question in a 2021 interview, Parkinson said ‘Well, it’s an impossible question, and the answer I give always surprises.
‘It was with a man called Dr Jacob Bronowski, a renowned scientist, who created that towering achievement of television documentary making, The Ascent of Man.
‘It was one man’s account of the horror of what Nazi Germany did to the Jews.
‘And it is profoundly moving because he is such an extraordinary man.’
Who is Professor Jacob Bronowski?
The 13-part series was a landmark in documentary television – it presented a personal view of humanity’s scientific achievement
Professor Jacob Bronowski is best known for being the presenter and writer of the 1973 television series ‘The Ascent of Man’.
The 13-part series was a landmark in documentary television – it presented a personal view of humanity’s scientific achievement.
It told the story thematically, with different episodes concentrating on different subjects, ranging from Galileo’s universe to Auschwitz.
In the programme, he declared that his ambition was ‘to create a philosophy for the twentieth century that shall be all one piece.’
Adding ‘there cannot be a decent philosophy, there cannot be a decent science, without humanity.’
Professor Bronowski was also a mathematician, poet, literary critic and philosopher of science.
Sadly, he died of a heart attack in 1974 aged just 66.
The most ‘extraordinary interview’
Before Dr. Bronowski died, only part of the interview was shown – 18 months after his death, the full interview was broadcast
The interview in question with Professor Jacob Bronowski was filmed in 1972 but broadcast in full in 1974 and it features Parkinson asking Dr Bronowski about ‘The Ascent of Man’.
Before Dr. Bronowski died, only part of the interview was shown – eighteen months after his death, the full interview was broadcast.
Introducing the interview, Parkinson said: ‘He fascinated me because he was one of the few genuine intellectuals who had the sublime gift of communicating across the broadest possible level.
‘Because of the three day week and restriction of broadcasting hours at the time, we were only able to show a shortened version on BBC Two.’
‘Sadly, eighteen months ago Dr Bronowski died and tonight we’re going to show you for the first time, the interview in it’s entirety.
‘There are many reasons for doing so, one is for what he had to say has as much relevance now as then. Another, that I believe it to be a testament of a rare human being.’
He added that he would ‘forever remember’ their meeting.
Parkinson said he would ‘forever remember’ their meeting
Parkinson began the interview on a lighthearted note by jokingly asking the scientist if people are ‘frightened’ of talking to him to which he replied he’s ‘much smaller than people think’ so therefore more approachable.
However, the chat quickly got philosophical and scientific, as the pair discuss a variety of complex topics, with Parkinson calling Dr Bronowski’s mind ‘extraordinary.’
Dr Bronowski shares his first impressions on arriving in England in the 1920s, his memories of filming at Auschwitz, his thoughts on science and his broader philosophy of life.
The full interview is over an hour long and you can watch it on BBC IPlayer, along with highlights from Parkinson’s other iconic interviews.
On his final ever episode of ‘Parkinson’, Sir Michael said: ‘Over the years it has been a privilege to meet some of the most intelligent and interesting people. It has always been a great joy and I shall miss it.’
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