REVIEW: An Evening with Sir Michael Parkinson, The Concorde, Eastleigh

HIS late night chat show became as much a part of the British way of life as fish and chips.

Parky was the main course on the Saturday night TV menu as he brought megastars into our living rooms.

Instead of tripping down those famous stairs former TV chat show king Sir Michael Parkinson stepped onto the stage of Eastleigh's Concorde.

And he was greeted with the type of applause which welcomed the galaxy of superstars that he interviewed on his iconic programme.

Among the Stoneham Lane club audience was former Saints boss and Daily Echo columnist Lawrie McMenemy, who is a long time friend of the broadcasting legend.

Parky had been due to appear last September but his appearance was postponed while he recovered from a back operation.

The veteran broadcaster, who has verbally sparred with the greatest, including boxing legend Muhammad Ali, was fighting fit as he faced his Concorde audience.

It was a case of two Michael Parkinsons for the price of one.

The tables were turned on the veteran TV host as his youngest son Michael guided his father through a fascinating career from working on the local paper in his native Yorkshire to the top of those famous stairs.

The relaxed conversation was peppered with film footage including classic interviews with Muhammad Ali, Billy Connolly and Dame Edna Everage, played brilliantly by Barry Humphries.

And the audience heard how Parky was determined not to follow his father down the pits after seeing at first hand the grim working conditions.

He had his mind set on a career in journalism and yearned to see his name in print and get his first by-line. And the young Parkinson was rewarded after covering a society wedding in Barnsley.

The 82 year-old journalist, who interviewed more than 2,000 of the world’s most famous names, said: “I got to meet all my heroes including Fred Astaire.”

Switching from print to TV his debut interview for Granada was with aspiring rock star Mick Jagger.

And in a fascinating clip the musician, who went on to front the world’s greatest rock ‘n roll band, predicted the Rolling Stones would only last about a year.

Parky spoke fondly of soccer genius George Best, adding: “He was the greatest player I ever saw and a very nice kid.”

The broadcaster also gave a fascinating insight into the complex mind of Ali and clips showed the legendary boxer at his wittiest and how the fight game had so cruelly affected his health.

We were able to re-live those side splitting tele moments with comedy’s finest Billy “The Big Yin” Connolly who became a lifelong friend of the TV interviewer and Dame Edna.

The Parky action replays showed how he flirted on screen with Hollywood’s most glamorous women stars including Lauren Bacall.

But that crazy Australian bird, Emu, was missing from the Concorde playlist. The uncontrollable creature, assisted by Rod Hull, famously floored the TV host.

It was one of those hilarious moments in TV history which has been seen nearly half a million times on YouTube.

As he left the Concorde stage, which has become an international mecca for jazz greats, the doyen of TV hosts and a devoted jazz fan said: “You have got a wonderful place here.”

It would have been good to have heard more anecdotes from the man who became so much part of our TV viewing lives and to have rounded off the evening with an audience led question and answer session.

But we were still left with fond memories of how those Parky interviews kept us on the edge of our armchairs on a Saturday night.

Duncan Eaton