In this two-disc DVD release Michael Parkinson, the undisputed kind of the British chat show, takes viewers through the highlights of a 30-year career interviewing the entertainment world’s greatest and grandest.
The first disc contains a three hour compilation of some of his most notable interviews interspersed with observations and context-setting by Parkinson himself.
Like the recent Pet Shop Boys CD/DVD release, this is much a trip through the history of popular culture as it is a celebration of a single performer’s career.
Parkinson’s career spans not only several generations of stars but a distinct change in the perceptions and expectations of celebrities and how they’re treated by the media.
Contrasting, for example, Parky’s openly challenging of John Wayne over the blacklisting in Hollywood to the fawning over of today’s overly-spun ‘celebrities’ by modern interviewers, it’s impossible not to lament the devolution of the chat show into a glorified advert for latest films, books and CDs.
I make no apology for echoing my lamenting of the demise of Top of the Pops when I lay much of the blame for this debasing and diminishing of the chat show at the BBC’s feet.
It’s understandable that commercial channels will feel the need to showcase people currently making headlines with new releases but the BBC, as the recent dumbing down of Film 2010 shows, increasingly has little interest in high quality, specialist shows and Parkinson’s skill in drawing out revelations – such as Tony Blair’s comments about praying – is unlikely to be seen again.
The second disc includes a documentary covering the origins of the show, contributions from interviewees on what it’s like to be questioned by Parkinson and reflections on his technique by the man himself.
Parkinson Performs is a collection of clips featuring Parky joining the likes of Henry Cooper, Oliver Reed and Ray Reardon in practical demonstrations and Nobody’s Perfect proves that even the best of us struggle to walk down stairs, speak coherently or keep control of situations.
An essential purchase which celebrates a time when the greatest chat show in the world was British.
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