Scream Horror Magazine


Posted on: August 18th, 2023

Sadly, we must report that British television legend Sir Michael Parkinson passed away August 17th 2023 at the age of 88.

Known primarily as a journalist and broadcaster, Parkinson hit his stride in the 1970s, when he earned a television talk show on the BBC. Far from the usual sit-down fluff, Parkinson was lauded for his probing and in-depth interviews with the cream of the entertainment world.

Due to his intellectual questioning manner and his general polite and respectful demeanour, the best of the best went out of their way to earn a spot on his show. Initially running from 1971 until 1982, The Michael Parkinson Show attracted hundreds of guests, including Orson Welles, Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Robert Mitchum, James Cagney, Richard Burton, and Mae West to name just a few.

Given his incredible fifty years’ worth of television contributions, it is without question Parkinson will never be forgotten. However, genre fans may remember him for an altogether different project, one that sparked a wave of controversy and remains one of the most controversial things BBC Television has ever done.

Ghostwatch aired on Halloween night 1992, and saw Sir Michael Parkinson seemingly live in a studio as presenters Sarah Greene and Craig Charles conducted an on-site investigation into an allegedly haunted house. The familiar British television faces and the convincing live television set up convinced most of the nation what they were watching was real. Imagine the shock and horror when things began to go awry, apparitions appeared, demonic voices bellowed and the programme would end in darkness with Parkinson seemingly possessed live on screen.

However, none of this was real, Ghostwatch was a staged drama piece meant to give the British public a good Halloween-night scare. The Blair Witch style live set-up fooled an entire nation, despite a disclaimer atop the show announcing it was “a work of fiction.” Consequently, outrage followed, many claiming the event had traumatised children across the country and sadly, with the programme even being linked to at least one death.

Throughout the years, Ghostwatch has been reappraised as something way ahead of its time, and Parkinson’s inclusion is often given as one of the major factors as to why it was so convincing. He was a hard-hitting, serious media figure, if Parkinson was involved, it must be real.

Sir Michael Parkinson has always stood by Ghostwatch despite the uproar, calling it “a wonderful piece of media, a fascinating experiment.” He has contributed to documentaries covering the programme over the years and has even campaigned for the BBC to re-air the show, as of this writing, they are yet to listen.

Rest easy, Michael Parkinson, not only a television legend, but part of what is quite possibly the greatest television experiment the horror genre has ever seen.

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