Parky pops in for a sell-out show of chat

Michael Parkinson'Sir Michael Parkinson in conversation at the SJT'Picture by Neil Silk  123434a'26/08/12
Michael Parkinson'Sir Michael Parkinson in conversation at the SJT'Picture by Neil Silk 123434a'26/08/12

Broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson packed the Stephen Joseph Theatre and raised thousands of pounds for the Scarborough venue.

For two hours he regaled the sell-out audience with anecdotes about his childhood, career and passions – including cricket and entertainment.

Those with a golden ticket then attended a champagne reception with Sir Michael.

“When things are in decline the first thing the Government cuts is the arts,” said Sir Michael, who has been to the Stephen Joseph before as “a paying guest”.

“It is important to support places like the Stephen Joseph and Sir Alan Ayckbourn is one of our greatest playwrights.

“One of Yorkshire’s great strengths is its cultural talent, if you get rid of that then you lose an awful lot.”

Sir Alan, who was the artistic director of the Stephen Joseph until three years ago and still premieres his plays there, was in the audience as was the current post-holder Chris Monks.

Sir Michael’s career spans more than 50 years in television and radio. His chat show was a staple of Saturday nights and he hosted some of the biggest names in sport and entertainment, incluidng Muhammad Ali, Morecambe and Wise, Spike Milligan, Robert Mitchum, his hero, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. He retired a few years ago but is about to make a programme on the great American Song Book for the BBC,

He also spoke about his deep affection for Scarborough. He was president of the Scarborough Cricket Festival for two years and was staying in Scarborough after Sunday’s fundraising event to see the start of the play at the North Marine Road ground. It was where he holidayed as a child and worked as a chef at the Grand Hotel and later stayed at the Royal.

“In those days he Grand was grand,” he said, “with men in their tuxedos and bow ties and ladies in their ball gowns - and music playing. Scarborough is not what it was but things change.”

Scarborough was also where he proposed to his wife Mary. “We were on the funicular, where she could not escape, 53 years ago,” he said.

Sir Michael, silver-haired, silver-tongued, laugh-lined, flat-vowelled, forthright, opinionated charming and amusing was clearly delighted with the reception he was given by the audience and said it had been a pleasure to do the fundraiser.