Michael Parkinson – played soft ball, hard ball

Michael Parkinson, the 1970s UK talk show interviewer has been hailed as ‘the greatest’ and ‘the best’ as news of his death aged 88 was announced. Renowned for drawing out his guests and not allowing his personality to get in the way he had some memorable encounters on screen. Although not all went to plan as he sparred with Muhammad Ali, failed to charm Meg Ryan and was written off by Helen Mirren as a ‘sexist old fart.’

  He was born 28 March 1935 in Cudworth, Yorkshire and never lost his attachment to his northern roots. He was married for sixty years to his wife Mary who stood stalwartly by him through periods of drinking which turned the family atmosphere ‘ugly’ according to one of his three sons.

  He was a Sun Aries, with Mars in Libra in an ultra-stubborn square to Pluto; and Pluto in a confident trine to Jupiter. He had the creative Saturn opposition Neptune of the mid 1930s tied into his Mercury in Pisces. Plus a practical and pleasure-loving Earth Grand Trine of Neptune trine Venus in Taurus (conjunct Uranus) trine maybe a Capricorn Moon.

  He was a curious mix of hard and soft. Mars Pluto can be ruthless and overly forceful. Mercury opposition Neptune is the exactly opposite and was maybe what allowed him to draw his guests out without browbeating them.

  He had a super-successful, get-it-together 5th Harmonic, tying together six of the 10 planets in his chart.

  Muhammad Ali, 17 January 1942 6.35 pm Louisville, KY, was a sparky mix with Ali’s heavyweight Mars in Taurus conjunct Parky’s Uranus and Parky’s Pluto square Mars colliding with Ali’s Capricorn Sun.

 Meg Ryan also fell foul of his Mars square Pluto with her Saturn in Capricorn crossing swords with his approach.

  Scots comedian Billy Connolly became a favourite and did fourteen shows over the years. Connolly, 24 November 1942 4.30am had his Jupiter conjunct Parky’s Pluto and his Mercury conjunct Parky’s Jupiter which would help to keep the jokes rolling.

  Michael Parkinson was undoubtedly a talented interviewer in a time when celebrity PR was not an issue. But he was in the old style meaning of the expression ‘a man’s man’. Happiest in a blokeish atmosphere of sport and less at ease with women.

  I worked with him briefly at TV AM and don’t remember it as the happiest association. Walk six paces behind and say yes was how I got through a few weeks before he mercifully went to Australia for the summer.

  He needed grit and determination to get to the top and stay there but that does not come without a few temperamental wrinkles.

6 thoughts on “Michael Parkinson – played soft ball, hard ball

  1. I well remember his ‘interview’ with Rod Hull and emu.

    Rod Hull decided to play up to the maximum possible embarrassment factor. Parkinson, though putting on an ‘amused face’ was clearly unhappy and uncomfortable, the no nonsense Yorkshireman in him no doubt secretly longing to whack Hull.

    I never did see the Bette Midler interview so often mocked by the late, great Kenny Everett.

  2. Parkinson had a certain charm and way of drawing out his interviewees, but he all too often failed to ask the question(s) I thought was most pertinent and seemed obvious. Mercury opp. Neptune perhaps? So a first rate temperament for the role, but not a razor sharp intellect.

  3. I must admit that I did not like Parkinson. I found him rather set in his ways and humourless. I was not sure he was a great interviewer: the people he interviewed were great. His chart puzzles me as I had imagined more of a fixed one, perhaps the angles would have shown this.
    One Parkinson anecdote on cricket. I saw him at Lord’s (the cricket ground)
    in the eighties after his Yorkshire team batted very, very slowly for a 100 or so in four hours. He was really fed up and made his feelings known to everyone about him before theatrically storming out. In fact his team ( and his “hero” Boycott) was right as when the opposition had its turn to bat, they tried to go faster and fell flat on their faces.

    • I never warmed to him either. Something about him gave me a negative gut reaction, so seeing his Cardinal T-Square on Pluto with Mars opposition Sun, clashing with my Libra Sun probably explains why.

  4. Personally I think Parkinson was at his best as a newspaper sports columnist where he had a real feel for his subject, particularly when writing about cricket.

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