Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Parkinson-Frost (and Where's Nixon When You Need Him?)

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Parkinson-Frost (and Where's Nixon When You Need Him?)

Article excerpt


BECAUSE interviewing is a form of autobiography, there was somethingpoignant about the guest list on the first edition of the final series ofParkinson. Michael Palin was there, promoting Michael Palin's New Europe(BBC1), and allowing the camera to close in on his face as he talked aboutvisiting Auschwitz.

Dame Diana Rigg dropped in to discuss rationing, flirt with Parky, and displayher extraordinary accentposh enough to make the Queen sound like a fishwife from Arbroathwhile tying herself in knots with a convoluted explanation of the peculiaritiesof gender in her latest play, All About My Mother.

"I could do Mastermind transsexual," she declared, as if auditioning for a roleon cable television. "At my age, you usually get offered creaky old revivals,"said Dame Diana, "soixante-neuf." Clearly, there was something frisky in theair. Parky did his bit, by suggesting that dames, like policemen, were gettingyounger.

Rigg, though, seemed more interested in discussing animal sex with Palin. "Haveyou ever seen a horny camel? That's a sight for sore eyes." Palin, an agreeablefellow whose travels have shown him a great many unusual animal actsnot all of them in the circusagreed. "I've seen giraffes mating. That's a very, mmm, yes." "Ah, said DameDiana, "and they twine their necks. That's charming." The headline guest wasSir David Frost, "one of the giants of television". Being a giant on televisionis not as impressive as it sounds, because most famous people are tiny and wearCuban heels, but the compliment was sincerely meant.

Parky and Frosty go back a long way, to the beginnings of popular television,and both are symbols of how times have changed.

Parky has been in the revival game ever since the BBC wheeled him back into thespotlight. Back then, he was a useful symbol of the Beeb's reconnection withits past, but he spoiled the effect by defecting to ITV, where he seemedmarooned in his own myth, and mocked by the imminence of the commercial break.It's hard to recapture conversational intimacy after an ad for Alpro Soya.

The end may be near, but the furniture of Parkinson is unchanged. The big bandis still swinging, some 70 years after the swing era, and the host and hisguests still descend from a staircase, which leads them from the stratosphereof stardom to an arena in which they can commune with the ordinary folk.

Sadly, Parky has for years been impaled on the realisation that famous peoplearen't as fabulous as they used to be, and that he the chat show king fromBarnsley is more so.

As a star guest, Sir David Frost isn't exactly Jimmy Cagney, but despite beingput out to grass by the BBC, he is enjoying an encore of celebrity, thanks tothe play Frost-Nixon.

'What's changed years of television?' Parkinson asked Frost. …

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