The awkward Helen Mirren interview Michael Parkinson refused to apologise for

It's been nearly 50 years since the late chatshow legend's toe-curling clash with a young Helen Mirren - but Parkinson always maintained he had 'nothing to apologise for'.

Michael Parkinson, who has died at the age of 88, has long been praised as the king of chat shows, but he never apologised for his line of questioning during his toe-curling clash with a young Helen Mirren.

Parky was slammed for his sexism in the awkward encounter in 1975, in which he introduced the star as a “sex queen”, praised her “sl*ttish eroticism” and then asked her if her, ahem, ‘equipment’ gets in the way of her aspirations to become a serious actress.

However, in 2016, the chat show host did suggest he may have taken slightly the wrong tack during the interview.

“OK, maybe I was a bit over-reactive to Ms Mirren,” he told the Daily Mail's Event magazine. “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.”

Michael Parkinson and Helen Mirren
Michael Parkinson and Helen Mirren

He also made it plain that a reconciliation was never on the cards between the sparring pair. In fact, they don’t like each other.

Read more: Michael Parkinson was embarrassed by how 'posh' he spoke in early TV days

“I don’t want to,” he said. “Nor does she. I don’t regard what happened as being anything other than good television.

“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.”

Clearly in combative form, the then 81-year-old Parky was also less then complimentary about some of his chat-show rivals in the interview – including the late, great Terry Wogan.

“I wouldn’t ever say that Terry Wogan’s claim to fame was as an interviewer,” he said. "Not at all.”

Graham Norton, James Corden and Jonathan Ross also got a tongue-lashing, with the star claiming the latter’s best days as a chat show host are well behind him.

Read more: Sir Michael Parkinson dead at 88: His greatest chat show moments

But Mirren said more recently, in a 2019 interview with Flaunt magazine, that she had taken quite a lot of flack for the incident, which she had thought about following the #MeToo movement.

“After that Parkinson interview, I was the one who got the s***,” Mirren said. “He didn’t. I got the s***. I got the s*** for being argumentative.”

“I don’t want to diss Michael, but he did blow it that once, because, you know, he didn’t know any different," she continued.

“He never saw it. I mentioned it to him again years later and he never saw what was wrong with it. He never could quite grasp it.”