Michael Parkinson criticises modern chatshows
Sir Michael Parkinson has criticised the modern chat show in which presenters are the "stars of show" and said that his own show would "not stand cat in hell's chance" of getting made today
The veteran broadcaster, who interviewed A-list celebrities, including John Lennon, Lauren Bacall and Muhammad Ali, said the nature of the television talk show had changed.
He said that modern chat shows are about “trivial things” when it should be about “good conversation”.
Television commissioners increasingly wanted American-style chat shows in which the presenter is more a “stand up” than an “inquisitor”.
Sir Michael, 74, singled out the recently departed Jonathan Ross, who was on reported £18m (€20m) three-year contract at the BBC.
He said: “Jonathan [Ross] is an example - he isn’t a stand-up comic, although he’d like to be…he is on that wave where you’ve got to be - not confrontational - but you’ve got to be the star of the show and the people you book are kind of ulterior to that.
“That’s one way of doing it, of course, but it’s not my way and I don’t see anyone doing that kind of conversation interview we used to do.”
Sir Michael is known for his relaxed manner and charm – teasing out stories from guests including Tony Blair and Nelson Mandela.
However, he said his talk show, which also featured Orson Welles, the legendary American director in its early years, was unlikely to be commissioned if it was put forward today.
“Wouldn’t have a cat in hell’s chance. They’d say, who’s Orson Welles?" he told Broadcast.
“I did a one-man show with Professor Jacob Bronowski [the mathematician]. Can you imagine me now going to a commissioner and saying I’ve got this great idea - this guy, Professor Jacob Bronowski, I’d like to do 80 minutes with him - and they give you primetime. Not at all. No way."
He said part of the reason was getting full access to celebrities. He said he would not have accepted any conditions made by agents, but now producers “colluded with this nonsense”.
Sir Michael's legendary BBC talk show was essential viewing for millions each week. Broadcast on the BBC from 1971 to 1982 and 1998 to 2003.
He said modern entertainment programmes like X Factor promoted a “corrosive” notion of fame.
“It’s not just 15 minutes, it doesn’t last that long. But the corrosive element can last for a lifetime,” he said, adding that fame without talent is “just silly, futile, daft”.
But also admitted that it was much easier being famous as a man than as a woman. “I think they [women] get a fairly rough deal out of fame actually, and what people say about them and how cruel people can be,” he said.
Meanwhile, Broadcast also claimed that the BBC has been looking to promote new female television stars following Ross’s departure.
A senior BBC source said: “We’re desperate for anyone that isn’t white and male. It’s difficult in entertainment because the options are so limited. Diversity is a big issue and they’ve over-relied on men for a long time.”
Claudia Winkleman and Shappi Khorsandi, the comedian, have been tipped as potential rising stars.