Helen Mirren says Michael Parkinson was right with awkward 'physical attributes' question

The Golda star famously was asked by the later chat show host in 1975 if her "equipment" hindered her performance.

Dame Helen Mirren attends a special screening of
Dame Helen Mirren has said Michael Parkinson's comments about her not being taken seriously because of her body were right. (Getty Images)

Dame Helen Mirren has said Sir Michael Parkinson was right – her physical attributes did get in the way of her being taken seriously as an actor.

The star of Prime Suspect and The Queen famously took part in an awkward interview with the late chat show host in 1975 in which he asked her if her "equipment" hindered her performance.

Mirren has now told the Radio Times: "I didn't feel sorry for Parky, but then in a way I did because in lots of ways he was right.

Read more: The awkward Helen Mirren interview Michael Parkinson refused to apologise for

"My physicality did get in the way of me being taken seriously as a classical actress."

She added: "Also, I was listening to Elton John's autobiography and I didn't realise that when Elton John was outed in a bad way by The Sun, Parky invited Elton on to his show so that they could talk about it properly.

Sir Michael Parkinson has died aged 88. Windsor, Berkshire, UK. 27th September, 2008. Sir Michael Parkinson pictured at Royal Windsor Theatre before doing an interview with Richard Attenborough as part of Windsor Festival. Credit: Maureen McLean/Alamy Live News
Michael Parkinson always refused to apologise for his remarks in the 1975 interview. (Alamy)

"He held out a hand and helped Elton John at a very important moment. So I don't want to diss Parky."

When the Golda star appeared on Parkinson's chat show in 1975 he introduced her the "sex queen" of the Royal Shakespeare Company and quoted critic's description of her as projecting "sl*ttish eroticism".

Parkinson – who died at the age of 88 in August – then went on to ask Mirren: "Do you find, in fact, that this, what could be best described as your equipment, in fact hinders you perhaps in that pursuit? Well, your physical attributes... your figure?"

Mirren replied: "Serious actresses can't have big bosoms, is that what you mean?"

He replied: "I think that they might detract from the performance, if you know what I mean."

Helen Mirren walks the runway during the
Helen Mirren recently walked the runway at Paris Fashion Week. (Getty Images)

Afterwards Mirren called Parkinson a "sexist old fart" and said the interview has been "enraging".

Parkinson always refused to apologise. In 2016, he told the Mail: "Maybe I was a bit over-reactive to Ms Mirren. On the other hand, she presented a provocative figure as she walked down the stairs carrying a feather boa, half dressed as I recall, with love and hate tattooed on her knuckles. I mean, we didn’t like each other.”

He added: "“There is no need to apologise, not at all. I’ve not done anything that I’m ashamed of. Am I sexist? No, I’m Yorkshire.”

Read more: Helen Mirren criticises people who look at her nude scenes online

Piers Morgan asked him on ITV's Life Stories in 2019 if in hindsight he thought the comments were sexist.

Parkinson replied: "Well, maybe. But nobody got hurt, nobody died."

Watch: Helen Mirren comments on actors playing characters with different heritage