Sir Michael Parkinson, former talk show host and journalist, has died

Sir Michael Parkinson has been remembered as the "greatest interviewer of our age" after his death at the age of 88.

The broadcaster died peacefully at home in the company of his family on Wednesday night, following a brief illness.

Sir Michael, a former journalist, was one of British television's most famous faces through his talk show Parkinson, which initially ran on the BBC from 1971 to 1982. He relaunched the show in 1998 before it moved to ITV in 2004, remaining on air until he retired the programme in 2007.

Over more than 800 episodes, the TV host affectionately known as Parky interviewed some of the world's most high-profile figures - including Muhammad Ali, Sir Elton John, Tom Cruise, Helen Mirren and George Michael - and helped make comedian Sir Billy Connolly a household name.

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Despite his long and illustrious career, it was his 2003 interview with Meg Ryan that went down in history as one of his most memorable shows.

The chat show king was faced with a stony-faced Ryan, who delivered one-word answers as she promoted her poorly received erotic thriller The Cut.

More than 20 years later, he offered an apology to the actress and admitted neither of them were on "top form".

He was also famously attacked by Emu when the puppet appeared on the chat show sofa next to Rod Hull, and wrestled him to the ground. The star would often joke that he would always be remembered for "that bloody bird".

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BBC to friends and interviewees - celebrities pay tribute

As tributes were shared following the announcement of his death, many remembered him as "the king of the chat show".

Director-general of the BBC, Tim Davie, said in a statement: "Michael was the king of the chat show and he defined the format for all the presenters and shows that followed.

"He interviewed the biggest stars of the 20th century and did so in a way that enthralled the public. Michael was not only brilliant at asking questions, he was also a wonderful listener.

"Michael was truly one of a kind, an incredible broadcaster and journalist who will be hugely missed."

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, BBC broadcaster Nick Robinson said: "He was the greatest interviewer of our age who owned Saturday night TV for year after year."

Meanwhile, former BBC News anchor Simon McCoy posted: "Simply the Best. Anyone who was anyone was interviewed by him. What an amazing career he had. Thoughts with his family."

Comedian Stephen Fry described being interviewed by Sir Michael as "impossibly thrilling" as he shared his memories.

"The genius of Parky was that (unlike most people... and most of his guests, me included) he was always 100% himself," he wrote on Instagram. "On camera and off. 'Authentic' is the word I suppose.

"For one of the shows I was on with Robin Williams, a genius of unimaginable comic speed and brilliance. Now they're both gone. One should get used to the parade of people constantly falling off the edge, but frankly one doesn't. So long #parky."

'The coolest thing I ever saw pre-show'

BAFTA and Culture Secretary Lucy Fraser also shared tributes, with Ms Fraser describing the star as a "broadcasting giant who set a gold standard for the television interview".

Comedian Eddie Izzard remembered Sir Michael as the "king of the intelligent interview", while British singer and actress Elaine Paige described him as "legendary".

Sharing a picture of the pair on X, she wrote: "Such very sad breaking news that Sir Michael Parkinson has died. Have known him for many years, sang on his TV chat show & attended many events with him.

"A legendary interviewer that will be remembered as the best of his profession. We will never see his like again."

Comedian Dara O Briain shared a story of Sir Michael doing "the coolest thing I ever saw pre-show" during one of his three appearances on the "proper showbiz" programme.

"I was standing with the guests, waiting for the show to start," O Briain wrote. "Michael arrived, chatted away to us, not a nerve in sight, when the band started playing the theme tune. Michael paused, smiled and said 'They're playing my tune' and walked straight out and started the show. Lovely."

Comedian and actor Matt Lucas also shared a tribute, remembering Sir Michael as "a titan" of television.

Broadcaster and author Gyles Brandreth described the broadcaster as "one of my heroes", saying it was a privilege to have known and worked with him.

"They were chat shows, of course - but they were mjuch (sic) more than that: they were truly engaging conversations that brought out the best in his guests," he said.

"And what an array of guests. 'Parky' was one of my heroes - and a lovely guy. A privilege to have known and worked with him."

Minute's silence at cricket match

The world of sport also mourned Sir Michael's death, with Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Barnsley FC both sharing tributes.

Sir Michael was a lifelong fan of cricket, with his childhood dreams of playing for Yorkshire dashed when he left school aged 16 and instead began working at a local paper.

The cricket club announced a minute's silence before play on Thursday, while Barnsley FC said the club had "lost one of its favourite sons".

Monty Python star Eric Idle, who was interviewed by the TV host in 1982, wrote on X: "Farewell Parky. A great Yorkshireman and cricket fan and a lovely interviewer to be with."

Life before TV - and how he rose to fame

Sir Michael was an only child who grew up in a council house in the coal mining village of Cudworth, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. His father was a miner, and would take his son down the pit when he was a teenager to put him off working there.

After leaving school, he went on to work at a local paper, later joining the Manchester Guardian and then the Daily Express.

He got his break in TV as a producer at Granada, moving to Thames TV before landing his chat show Parkinson at the BBC.

He also had a short-lived term at TV-am as part of the original presenting line-up alongside the likes of Angela Rippon and David Frost, and appeared on the shows Give Us A Clue, one-off drama Ghostwatch and Going For A Song.

On the radio, he hosted Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 as well as his own sports shows on Five Live.

The star received an honorary doctorate in 2008, alongside cricket umpire and his good friend Dickie Bird, at the Barnsley campus of Huddersfield University.

He was also knighted by the late Queen at Buckingham Palace that same year, and said of the accolade: "I never expected to be knighted - I thought there was more chance of me turning into a Martian really."

In 2013, Sir Michael revealed he was being treated for prostate cancer - but said he had no intention of stopping working.

He had three sons with wife Mary, who he married in 1959.