Michael Parkinson is dead

by Harry on August 17, 2023

BBC obit here.

I have a very fond memory of Parkinson.

I played cricket regularly against one of his sons — our (state) school teams, and club teams, played each other twice a year for several years, and Parkinson was a frequent and keen attender, so a familiar figure. One year his son’s club team had a frankly terrifying bowler (who pretty soon was playing for a first class county) whom I, a classic tailender, had to face (because he ran through the side) I faced maybe 25 balls, about half of them from the quick, allowing several to hit my (unathletic and overweight) torso, leaving those which I could, and blocking (and occasionally scoring off) those that would otherwise hit the stumps. (No helmets or padding, by the way: I cannot believe they allowed that to happen). I had (extremely) limited talent or skill, but was vaguely aware that I was doing surprisingly well by my standards, prolonging the innings and allowing the actual batsman at the other end to score. I was devastated when I was out (to a good ball) and trudged back feeling I had let the team down. As I walked into the pavilion Parkinson looked me in the eye and said in his inimitable accent (well, actually entirely imitable I guess), “Batted, lad, you did bloody well out there”. He meant it, or if he didn’t he did a hell of good job seeming to. I’m sure he was aware that everyone knew who he was, and that this might mean more to me than it might coming from someone else, but it also seemed entirely authentic, just a kind word to a kid who could do with a little encouragement.



Alan White 08.17.23 at 2:57 pm

Lovely memory Harry.


oldster 08.17.23 at 3:31 pm

That’s a lovely anecdote, but for those of us who do not speak cricket, could you parse the exclamation, “Batted, lad, you did bloody well out there”?

I do not understand what part of speech “batted” is, or what syntactical connection it has to the rest of the sentence. Is it a preterite verb with a suppressed subject in parataxis to the material after “lad”? I.e. “you batted and you did well”?
Is it an adjective describing your state after the episode, equivalent to “you were severely battered by being hit so often, but nonetheless you did well”? An adjective describing your role in the team? (Is “batted” the name of a player-role, like mid-fielder or striker?)
It’s just entirely opaque to me as it stands, but I’m always keen to learn foreign languages!


deiseach 08.17.23 at 4:31 pm

That was lovely. Thanks for sharing.


Jestyn 08.17.23 at 5:07 pm

I guess it has an implied “Well” before the beginning of it?


Not Trampis 08.17.23 at 10:33 pm

Truly one of the greats of interviewing.He never allowed himself to be the centre of attention.
Harry’s story really shows why people liked him


Smass33 08.18.23 at 4:36 am

Oldster – It is a combination of cricket and Yorkshire speak; i.e. dropping the ‘well’ from ‘well batted’ (Harry was batting at the time).


Ken_L 08.18.23 at 9:41 am

He was a nice man. It’s a pity such a bland observation is open these days to a torrent of criticism.


Suzanne 08.18.23 at 5:27 pm

One of Parkinson’s regular guests was the late Peter Cook, who paved the way for Parkinson’s late night gig when his own chat show, “Where Do I Sit?” crashed and burned after three episodes (although the ratings actually rose as people tuned in to see how awful it was).

I’ve seen a number of Parkinson’s shows on YouTube. Really a wonderful interviewer – knows how to let a good guest shine without showing off himself and no pushover as q questioner. Wish we had had someone like him in the States.


engels 08.20.23 at 11:25 pm

Ok I’ll bite: who’s Michael Parkinson?

(Seriously don’t think I’ve ever watched him, despite the name being familiar, but based on this post he sounds like a nice guy.)


Harry 08.21.23 at 12:32 am

“Batted” does indeed mean “well batted” in the same way as “Shot” means “Good shot” or “bowled” means “well bowled”. I don’t really know why!

He was a broadcaster/journalist who was extremely famous in the 70s — he had a Saturday night interview show which was extremely popular (only 3 channels, so not loads of competition). His father was a coal miner, and he didn’t go to university, but made his way up through local journalism. His death has prompted loads of nice stories — he seems to have genuinely been loved by his colleagues and peers as well as the public. Since posting this I’ve been reminded that he was one of the original public supporters of the Anti-Nazi League (which I did know at the time — like Mike Brearley — but obviously its not been a major feature of his obituaries).


engels 08.21.23 at 12:52 am

To be serious the name and identity are familiar. Apart from not being a chat show person I think I missed the first BBC run by not being born and second by being at uni without a TV. I did read about his ANL involvement and rise from local newspapers on wiki, which are laudable and in the latter case a path that doesn’t really exist anymore I guess.


Salem 08.21.23 at 8:19 am

Re: Suzanne #8:

Parkinson and Cook had a great chemistry. I think “Where Do I Sit?” was the origin of the quip that Cook was the world’s best chat-shot guest, and the world’s worst chat-show host.


oldster 08.21.23 at 11:39 am

” “Batted” does indeed mean “well batted” in the same way as “Shot” means “Good shot” or “bowled” means “well bowled”. I don’t really know why!”

This must have made your early philosophical education very puzzling, when you thought that every metaphysician who spoke of being was really an ethicist discussing well being.


Suzanne 08.21.23 at 5:19 pm

@ 12:

Cook seems to have believed that if David Frost could manage it, he should have no trouble. Hugh Bris was back in town, as Gore Vidal would say.


Stephen 08.21.23 at 6:21 pm

Re: “Bowled” as Yorkshire laconism.

Yorkshire people are well known for being thrifty with words, and other valuables.

Motto of Yorkshire, according to a friend from Lancashire:

Think all and say nowt.
Drink all and pay nowt.
And if ivver thee does owt for nowt, do it for thissen.


Batocchio 08.31.23 at 6:28 am

That’s a lovely story. Thanks for sharing it.

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