On Saturday night TV legend Sir Michael Parkinson celebrated 50 years in television by looking back at some of his most iconic interviews. Along with his son Mike, the presenter spoke about the rise of his career as he recalled his first-ever celebrity interview with Mick Jagger. Over the years, Sir Michael has spoken with some of the biggest names in showbiz, ranging from John Lennon, Billy Connolly and Muhammad Ali. He has also had some awkward encounters with the likes of Meg Ryan and Helen Mirren. The 86-year-old relived some of his fondest memories as he re-watched a number of his old interviews back. However, when asked what his favourite-ever interview was, the presenter got emotional and broke down in tears.
Taking viewers back to that moment, Sir Michael began: “The question I am always asked is ‘What was my favourite interview?’
“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.”
The Ascent of Man aired in 1973 and followed Dr Bronowski as he travelled around the world in order to trace the development of human society through its understanding of science.
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During the series, Dr Bronowski visited a concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz.
As they replayed a clip of Sir Michael’s first interview with the scientist, Dr Bronowski explained visiting Auschwitz was tough for him because many of his relatives had died there.
“He had a great gift,” Sir Michael continued. “The great gift talk show hosts dream of guests having.
“Which is that he was wonderfully articulate and never quoted a boring sentence in his life.”
“I mean, the thought is so simple and profound that I find it difficult to remember it now without tearing up,” Sir Michael said.
“But I don’t mind that. I think you should be aware of moments like that, which change your life.
“It was a moment in my life I will never forget.”
Viewers also felt emotional while watching the BBC documentary, with many taking to social media to share their thoughts.
One viewer even branded the programme a “tough watch”.
“Wow, what a heartbreaking interview,” another penned.
A third added: “Feeling rather emotional watching #ParkinsonAt50. Where has the time gone?”
A fourth wrote “#ParkinsonAt50 is really making me nostalgic. So many great guests, a lot that is no longer with us. Sad and happy (watching it) at the same time.” (sic)
A fifth commented: “Such wonderful memories, seeing all of Parky’s guests. Am crying.” (sic)
Parkinson at 50 is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.