Thursday 22 August 2019

Michael Parkinson says ‘sexist’ interview with Helen Mirren was ‘of its time’

Sir Michael interviewed Dame Helen in 1975.

Sir Michael Parkinson has said an allegedly sexist 1975 TV interview with Dame Helen Mirren was ‘of its time’ (Victoria Jones/PA)
Sir Michael Parkinson has said an allegedly sexist 1975 TV interview with Dame Helen Mirren was ‘of its time’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

Sir Michael Parkinson has said an allegedly sexist 1975 TV interview with Dame Helen Mirren was “of its time”.

The veteran broadcaster, 84, introduced Dame Helen as the “sex queen” of the Royal Shakespeare Company before quoting a critic’s description of her as projecting  “sluttish eroticism”.

During the interview, Sir Michael asked the then-30-year-old if her “equipment” distracted audiences and if serious actresses can have “big bosoms”.

Dame Helen later described him as a “sexist old fart”. Despite the dawn of the #MeToo era and a changing in social standards, Sir Michael has declined to apologise fully for the interview.

Speaking on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories and as reported by The Times, Sir Michael said:  “I feel it’s of its time, and of its time it’s embarrassing. It was over the top, absolutely so.”

When Morgan suggested the comments were sexist, Sir Michael replied: “Well, maybe. But nobody got hurt, nobody died.”

The former chat show host, who retired in 2007, said he had since interviewed Dame Helen but they had not discussed the dispute.

He said: “She said what she had to say, I said what I had to say, and that’s the end of it.”

Sir Michael, known for his distinctive Yorkshire accent, earlier this year said men feel “under threat” over the “merest” sign that they could be flirting.

He previously said “there isn’t a man of a certain age who doesn’t look back and wonder ‘Was my behaviour entirely appropriate?’”

Piers Morgan’s Life Stories airs on ITV at 10pm on Saturday.

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