Sir Michael Parkinson, 1935-2023

An icon of British Television and journalism has died.

Michael Parkinson loved cricket and never lost his Yorkshire humour and warmth. Born in Barnsley, it should be proud of also producing Dickie Bird and Sir Geoffrey Boycott and the three always stayed close friends.

I remember growing up reading Michael Parkinson in the papers. He was always funny ridiculing the MCC calling them the Marylebone Clodhoppers Club. He brought to life characters and players he wrote about with great skill and affection. He was well worth reading and then to become the doyen of TV, interviewers, receiving the accolade, 'He was the best'.
We were very proud that Sir Michael agreed to become a patron of the Neville Cardus Archive at Old Trafford. He was a great fan of Neville and loved his writing. He said of him, "I wouldn't have minded being Len Hutton, but I would have sold my soul to have been blessed with Sir Neville's gifts."

Michael was a patron of The Cardus Archive at Old Trafford. I well remember meeting him at the ground with around six of us from the Cardus Archive when he was visiting Old Trafford and we all had coffee with him. It was a magic half-hour as he talked about his love of cricket and especially Cardus and how much he admired him, not for his accuracy but for the way he wrote and brought to life so many cricketers. He told us how he met his hero once when Parky was writing about Wilfrid Rhodes and Cardus didn't disappoint, regaling him with stories about cricketers.

I asked him what his favourite book was and received a very startling answer. It was The Truth about Wilson by W.S.K.Webb. Serialised in the comic The Wizard, the stories portray an enigmatic strange individual in an old-fashioned black running costume, he appeared out of the mists of the Yorkshire moors to shatter athletic records. It was the first book I remember buying and I still have it with its bright yellow cover (by the way a copy today may set you back £100 on e-bay).

That book explains so much about Michael Parkinson and his love for Cardus. Both were romantics and saw much more in cricket than the runs and wickets. They saw the chance to dream and the stories they wrote express their love of the game as well as the characters they brought to life.

Rev Malcolm Lorimer
Cardus Archive and Heritage Volunteer, Lancashire CCC.

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