Sir Michael Parkinson’s son has revealed his father felt ‘insecure’ and looked down upon by the BBC.
It was confirmed on Thursday, August 17, that the legendary talk show host had sadly died.
Since then, fans and celebrities have taken to social media to pay tribute and remember his interviews, including the likes of David Beckham recalling the iconic ‘GoldenBalls’ moment, and Piers Morgan on his shock at making Sir Michael cry.
A statement from Sir Michael’s family said at the time: ‘After a brief illness Sir Michael Parkinson passed away peacefully at home last night in the company of his family.
‘The family request that they are given privacy and time to grieve.’
His son Mike Parkinson has now spoken out about his father, and how he saw himself, battling imposter syndrome and feeling ‘insecure’ working for the BBC.
Speaking to John Wilson on BBC Radio 4’s Last Word, Mike said the world-renowned broadcaster suffered from ‘imposter syndrome’ and ‘carried with him a sense of working-class guilt’ during his career.
He added that his father was ‘constantly questioning himself’ after joining the mainstream media and ‘didn’t have as much self-confidence as he appears’, despite his onscreen success.
Sir Michael came from humble beginnings – born in South Yorkshire in 1935, and growing up in a council house in Cudworth, near Barnsley.
However, Mike said that even after his father’s stratospheric success, he was ‘still very class-ridden’.
‘There were people in positions of authority, at the BBC, that were questioning his talent, questioning his right to be an interviewer,’ the director said.
‘He was always acutely aware that he was with people that he felt were brighter than him, were more educated than him.
‘He went to the BBC, and he felt very much… not inferior, (but) he was very insecure.
‘He was a man who was constantly questioning himself and didn’t have as much self-confidence as he appears to have on television.’
Speaking about what presenter John said was an ‘apparent lack of self-confidence’ and asked how that had manifested itself, Mike said: ‘I always think, as well, that he carried with him a sense of that working-class guilt, that, you know, when he became successful, when he became famous, in inverted commas, he always looked back to his childhood and looked back to what his dad endured.
‘And he always felt, not guilty so much, but almost responsible, and that’s why he always wanted to help his mum and dad, he did lovely things for them…’
Asked if it was ‘almost like imposter syndrome’, he replied: ‘It is imposter syndrome, totally, absolutely, 100%.
‘He didn’t feel confident in his own skin for a long, long time.’
Elsewhere, Mike said the volume of reaction had been ‘difficult’ for his family, having been related to such a beloved figure.
Becoming audibly emotional, he said: ‘The difficulty with having a public figure as a father is that you feel you can’t grieve until everyone else has.
‘It’s a silly thing to say, but that’s the truth – you feel that everyone else must express what they feel about him because he meant so much to them.
‘And that’s important because he gave… my father was a very selfless man in many ways.
‘He spent his entire time trying to make other people look good… and also in his small way to try and make the world a bit of a better place by making people behave better.
‘He meant so much to so many people but, actually, as a family, it’s hard because your experience is overshadowed by noise and an outpouring that you feel almost that you have to step back from and allow that to happen, and allow that wave to subside.
‘And then you, as a family, can remember him as a father, as a husband.’
The full interview with Mike Parkinson can be heard on BBC Radio 4’s Last Word with John Wilson and on BBC Sounds.
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