5 Of The Most Car Crash Interviews In British TV History

#1. When Parky Met Mirren 

The Telegraph
(Photo courtesy of The Telegraph)

We previously mentioned Wogan but there is simply one show and one interviewer who stands head and shoulders above the others: Michael Parkinson. Now, if you’re anything like me, your earliest memories of “Parky” are through his television commercials in which he tried to persuade viewers into life insurance through the addition of a free Parker pen.  

A prelude to the interview saw Michael remark: “critics spent as much time discussing her physical attributes as assessing her acting ability”, an ironic comment precursing an interview today labeled as being misogynistic.  

Parkinson firstly described her as an “in quotes serious actress”, not exactly a phrase you would want to use, in which you are perceived to be insulting your own guest. Next, Parkinson beat around the bush big-time for a question that asked how her “equipment” hindered her claims as a real actress because the bodies of women are perhaps too distracting for audiences being the implication. She’s a woman, you see! 

The next stage of the interview is rather quaint. Helen gives insightful, compelling, and eloquent answers, proving her worth beyond those Parkinson had presented. The two even started binding for a while, with a few jibes added in including an implication of Parkinson being a “chauvinist”, although the social context of the era should be taken into account, whilst being no excuse for the conduct of the interviewer.

Mirren certainly conducted herself greatly here but I find myself against the majority pouring scorn over Parkinson’s approach. It was certainly sexist but I find sympathy for Parkinson, who was often an ace interviewer but was out of time and mind frame to conduct an interview with someone so different in style to the regular interviewee. Whilst I do feel sorry for him, it is an unavoidable fact that the interview saw Helen come off schooling Parkinson, coming out of the car crash interview the better.

Maybe it would have been better if Mirren was interviewed by Harold Wilson, at least that way he would never have thought of a damn thing! 

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