Michael Parkinson
Michael Parkinson Image Credit: Reuters

Legendary broadcaster, fierce journalist, and the charismatic chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson, fondly called 'Parky' by his fans and friends, has died at the age of 88.

He has famously sparred with boxer Muhammad Ali on his TV show and ticked off Meg Ryan in his explosive sit-down chats.

According to a report on Daily Mail, his family shared a statement soon after Parkinson's death in his sleep. 

"After a brief illness Sir Michael Parkinson passed away peacefully at home last night in the company of his family. The family request that they are given privacy and time to grieve." He was reportedly battling prostrate cancer.

Parkinson, who is known for his iconic interviews with famous subjects including Madonna, Victoria and David Beckham, Muhammad Ali, John Lennon, Billy Connolly, and Orson Welles was known for his gentle, but tough line of questioning. He looked deceptively benign, but always chose to always ask excruciating and difficult questions. 

For decades, he dominated the small screens on Saturday nights in the UK.

He has interviewed over 2,000 big names and people from everyday life during his illustrious career spanning seven decades with news outlets including BBC.

He's known to have set the gold standard for journalists. He retired in 2007 after a dynamic career in broadcast journalism.

His style of ruthless but gentle reportage made Parkinson a houehold name and a force to reckon with in the journalistic circles.

But he famoulsy lost his footing in an interview with Meg Ryan in 2003. Ryan's monosyllabic answers and Parkinson's impatient demeanour made their interaction memorable in more ways than one.

Ryan and Parkinson's fall-out after that controversial and frosty, awkward interview is well-documented. The actress, best known for films such as 'You've Got Mail' and 'Sleepless in Seatle' gave clipped and brusque responses since she felt that Parkinson was judging her for her racy scenes in a film. At one point during the 2003 interview, Ryan even told Sir Michael to "wrap it up". Years later, Parkinson extended the olive branch and Ryan accepted, calling it a truce. 

But not all interviews were this tumultous. His fun-filled and wicked interview with David and Victoria Beckham continues to be an engaging watch with immense repeat value. He famously goaded Victoria to reveal her pet-name for her hunky footballer of a husband.

While he has interviewed a galaxy of big names, the knighted journalist famously considers his interview with Sir Billy Connolly as one of his favourite interviews of his career. Parkinson was particularly impressed with the comedian's natural sense of humour. He was equally impressed with boxer Muhammad Ali's charm, who appeared in his TV show four times. 

While his career is filled with highs, Parkinson has often joked that his long-enduring legacy will be that episode when Rod Hull's Emu attacked on the chat show sofa, wrestling him to the ground. The inglorious puppet-attack episode is still talked about and the video clip continues to entertain.

Parkinson, who also scored a coup when Sir Paul McCartney brought his guitar in 2005 to his show, was knighted in 2008.

According to BBC, Parkinson introduced the first Parkinson show in 1971 on BBC television with US jazz singer Marion Montgomery as his first guest. The show ran for over a decade.

Parkinson was born in the South Yorkshire village in 1935 to a miner father who swore that his son wouldn't follow his career path. 

Tributes pour in:

As soon as the news of his demise emerged, several stars including actress and singer Elaine Paige paid homage to the brilliant journalist and TV show host. She decribed him as "a legendary interviewer that will be remembered as the best of his profession".

Paige added: "we will never see his like again. RIP Michael".