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Michael Parkinson speaks out on his ‘humiliating’ interview with Muhammad Ali

Michael Parkinson admits he watches his old clips

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This summer marks 50 years since Parkinson first launched, as the iconic chat show aired its first episode on June 19, 1971. The hit show saw journalist Michael Parkinson interview some of the world’s biggest celebrities. However, he has now reflected on one particular interview with Muhammad Ali that left him cringing.

Michael met the boxer on multiple occasions and names him as one of the most extraordinary stars he’s ever interviewed

He spoke about some of his encounters with Ali in a recent interview: “What a figure, what a personality.”

“I’ve seen some beautiful men in my time but he was gorgeous. Beautiful – but the gibberish he talked was extraordinary,” Michael remarked.

However, the veteran broadcaster recalled one interview with Ali in 1974 didn’t quite go as he expected.

Michael flew out to the US to interview the boxer alongside American talk-show host Dick Cavett.

The pair were supposed to be co-hosting the interview, but Dick took over meaning Michael struggled to get his questions in.

Looking back on the interview, Michael commented: “That didn’t play well with me at all.”

When asked if he felt humiliated by the experience, Michael admitted: “I did, yes.”

“I was looking forward to having a word in his ear but at the end of the show he did a backflip over the settee, went to the back of the set, went to the car and drove off,” he said.

Michael claims he didn’t hear from Dick for another three years, but then suddenly received a phone call from the talk-show host.

Michael recalled: “He said, ‘Hi Mike, do you know Larry Oliver? Do you think you could give me an introduction?’

“I wanted to say, ‘F*** off.’ But I didn’t. I just said, ‘I don’t know him that well.’

“I thought, ‘you cheeky b******!’ I mean, he knew how badly he’d treated me,” he told Radio Times.

Ali wasn’t the only high-profile interviewee Michael had over the years, as he also had numerous big-name celebrities on his show, Parkinson.

The first series of the late-night talk show featured some guests, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Ringo Starr, George Best, Michael Caine and Orson Welles.

He also went on to interview more A-list celebrities, including David Bowie, Madonna, Helen Mirren, and Bette Davis.

Parkinson’s 50th anniversary is soon set to be celebrated by BBC One as they plan to air a documentary about the famous programme.

In the special documentary, Michael will take a look back at some of his most memorable interviews.

The film will tell the story of Parkinson’s humble beginnings and how the programme rose to become an award-winning Saturday night staple.

Parkinson at 50 is set to air on Saturday, August 28 at 8:30pm on BBC One.

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