Sir Michael Parkinson 'felt like he did not belong' when working at BBC

Updated: 

Sir Michael Parkinson has said he "still cannot believe his luck" after a 60-year career.

The Yorkshire-born journalist and interviewer, 81, said he had always felt uncomfortable at the BBC and described it as a "very strange place".

His comments came during a discussion about his life and career with BBC's Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young at the Bafta headquarters in central London on Wednesday.

Sir Michael Parkinson (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Sir Michael Parkinson (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Taking his turn in the interviewee's chair, he said: "I felt like I didn't belong at the BBC.

"I felt I didn't have the right education. The unease was never enforced, but it seeps into the woodwork."

Growing up in the mining village of Cudworth, he said: "You can't shake that off, no matter where you go, so it makes you less confident.

"I was always waiting to be found out...You never quite believe your luck."

Sir Michael Parkinson (Ian West/PA Wire/PA Images)
Sir Michael Parkinson (Ian West/PA Wire/PA Images)

Adding that he worked with many "great" and "supportive" figured at the corperation, he added that when his career took off in the 1960s and 70s, it was "a strange place run by strange people".

Sir Michael became a familiar face on both the BBC and ITV because of his intimate celebrity interviews, most notably on the BBC show Parkinson.

He shed a tear as he remembered some of his most memorable interviewees, especially mathematician Jacob Bronowski, who shared with him the story of a visit to Auschwitz after losing family members in Nazi Germany.

Michael Parkinson
(Parkinson Productions/PA)

But as well as the key figures he spoke to who have since died, such as Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela, he also mourned the loss of what he believes to be the true "talk show" in modern television.

"It was wonderful and exciting when people would walk on and the audience would gasp.

"But now everyone is famous and no one has a private life. Back then it was different. The landscape has changed fundamentally. When I came back (with a new series of Parkinson) in the 2000s, stars had all these rules.

"Back then television was like a broken down old bus, no one knew what they were doing.

"But companies such as Granada were at the epicentre of evolution. But there was a chance for anyone who came in with ambition. Today young people coming into the business don't have that same guidance. The openings aren't there for them."

Michael Parkinson
(Parkinson Productions/PA)

He added: "I don't know about these media courses nowadays.

"Young people are convinced by things like 'I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! and that instant fame you get with the internet.

"Fame is a very strange thing and you have got to be mature enough to handle it."

Michael Parkinson
(Parkinson Productions/PA)

Sir Michael revealed that as a young man he wanted to be a "film star" and that show business had always been his passion.

"It was wonderful to be able to listen to people that the world wanted to see, people with wisdom and funny guys, to deal with the best all the time and hope something rubs off on you."

Although he retired in June 2007, Sir Michael revealed that he would be interested in interviewing the US President-elect Donald Trump.

"He's a pretty robust man, so I would probably have him on with someone like Rod Hull and the Emu."