LONDON — Commercial web ITV has poached one of the BBC’s biggest stars — chatshow host Michael Parkinson — to a two-year exclusive deal.
The BBC vet, whose Saturday-night show bowed in 1971, will need no introduction to Hollywood stars because many have been featured on “Parkinson.”
Critics claim Parkinson, whose show was revived by BBC1 six years ago, lost his edge long ago. But the much-satirized host, dubbed Parky, still achieves high ratings when he lands the right celebs.
A jubilant Nigel Pickard, ITV’s director of programs, hailed the signing of the pact, which takes effect in the fall, claiming Parkinson remains the top U.K. TV talkshow presenter.
“Not only is he much loved by viewers,” Pickard said, “he also has the reputation to attract the biggest guest stars from here and Hollywood.”
Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, Fred Astaire and James Cagney are some of the top talent that Parkinson has interviewed. Politicians, including Nelson Mandela, and rock stars, not least Paul McCartney, have also sat opposite the interlocutor.
He signed with the rival web because the BBC can no longer guarantee him a fixed, 10 p.m. slot on Saturdays due to its commitment to major league soccer. He’ll have the same slot at ITV.
The new show, following the same formula of talk and music, will be made by Granada.