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Parkinson at 50: How long did Michael Parkinson’s talk show run for and who were his big-name interviews?

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This summer marks 50 years since Sir Michael Parkinson’s chat show launched onto BBC in 1971, and now the legendary journalist and TV interviewer is taking a trip down memory lane with a special tribute show.

In his own words: “Parkinson at Fifty is my story of an unlikely journey from a pit village in South Yorkshire to the top of the Parkinson stairs.

“It provides a ringside seat opposite some of the biggest names in show business and beyond, an insight into the interviewers’ lot as well as an honest assessment of my time as the host of what for me was the best job in the world.”

But how long did Parky’s talk show run for and what can viewers expect from tonight’s special tribute show? Here’s everything you need to know.

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How long did Michael Parkinson’s talk show run for?

The very first episode of Parkinson aired on June 19, 1971, and was originally an eight-show experiment by Bill Cotton, BBC’s Director General at the time.

However, its popularity saw it continue until April 10, 1982, before beginning again on January 9, 1998, and running until April 24, 2004.

Parkinson then moved over to ITV where the show continued from September 4, 2004, until December 22, 2007, when Michael Parkinson retired.

The extended penultimate episode saw special guests including Billy Connolly, Judi Dench, David Attenborough and Peter Kay, while the final episode was a highlights reel of Parkinson’s best interviews.

In total, Parkinson ran for 540 episodes over 31 series.

Who are some of the big names that Michael Parkinson interviewed?

Michael Parkinson welcomed more than 2,000 guests onto his chat show, interviewing some of the world’s biggest celebrities.

Just some of the big names he interviewed include John Lennon, Bruce Forsyth, Fred Astaire, Cher, Tina Turner and Tom Cruise.

He also famously had some rather frosty exchanges with Helen Mirren and Meg Ryan, which he has since admitted he could have handled better.

What to expect in the Parkinson at 50 special

Parkinson at 50 is a special hour-long 50th-anniversary tribute looking back at some of the 86-year-old TV legend’s most memorable moments from his time hosting his iconic chat show.

The documentary will see the broadcaster go through the archives of some of his most famous interviews as well as being interviewed by his son, Mike.

Fans can expect to see some of his biggest moments, including his interview with Joan Rivers and his first, uncomfortable encounter with Muhammad Ali.

There will also be a section dedicated to his interviews with Billy Connolly, who appeared on the show 15 times, going on to become good friends with Parky.

Finally, Parkinson will surprise viewers by revealing his favourite ever interview, which he describes as “a moment of my life that I shall never forget.”

Parkinson at 50 will air at 8.30pm tonight on BBC One

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