The City of Coventry is bidding to become the UK City of Culture for 2021.
I have recently spent a lot of time in Coventry, watching the world premier of `Godiva Rocks` at The Belgrade Theatre, walking in Coombe Country Park, a weekend at Ansty Hall Hotel and an`Evening with Sir Michael Parkinson`at Warwick Arts Centre.
Coventry has a lot to offer – no more Ghost Town!
I went along to the Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry for, An Evening with Sir Michael Parkinson.
The show celebrated the life and career of a man, who by his own reckoning has interviewed over 2000 of the most important cultural figures of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Parkinson began his working life as a journalist on local newspapers, and his Yorkshire background and accent, has always been part of his appeal.
He worked as a features writer for the Manchester Guardian and later on the Daily Express in London. In the course of his two years’ National service, he was commissioned and became Britain’s youngest Army Captain. He served during the Suez Operation in 1956.
During the 1960s, Parkinson moved into television, working on current affairs programmes for the BBC and Granada Television. From 1969 he presented Granada’s Cinema. The long running programme, `Parkinson` began in 1971 -1982 and a second run ran from 1998 – 2007, when he retired the programme.
In conversation, with his son Mike, we were shown highlights from the Parkinson archives on a large screen behind father & son, in between Parky talking about the interviews, the stars and his rise to stardom.
It was a unique opportunity to get an intimate, entertaining and informative look at his remarkable journey from a pit village in Yorkshire, to the top of those famous stairs, whilst reliving the best moments from a show that for many defined their Saturday night.
I found his recollections with comedians such as Billy Connolly, Joan Rivers and Kenneth Williams, at times hilarious, but the sporting comments and screenshots about sporting icons such as Muhammed Ali and George Best, a little disturbing and intrusive.
Snippets of conversations with movie giants such as Orson Welles, talking about the way in which Hollywood had destroyed lives was somewhat prophetic and timely.
James Cagney, John Wayne and Lauren Bacall reminded me of how strong the `star system` was during this period, when most people had only ever seen these stars on large screens.
“He’s a genuinely funny man. People do funny things and people say funny things and people pull funny faces, but Billy was a genuine funny man.
“To see him now is rather sad because he is unwell. He’s still working. I don’t know how.”
Parky on Billy Connolly
With no internet in those years, only two television stations available and limited exposure throughout the media, Parky told us that when movie star Jimmy Cagney walked down the Parkinson steps, there was an audible gasp from the audience, at how small the great movie star was.
“She was right at the end of promoting a film which wasn’t a very good film, it didn’t make it at the box office and she was sick of this long tour and you know the criticism of the movie and all that.
“She’d also just split with Russell Crowe, and that hadn’t helped quite obviously.
Parky excuses Meg Ryans rude behaviour
And who would Parky like to interview today?
In an interview recently, Parky suggested he would liked to have interviewed US President Donald Trump, but that could just be Parky, having the last laugh!
I must check out what else is on at the Warwick Arts Centre, as its only thirty minutes from my home and the student campus is vast, with all sorts of food outlets, book shops and bars on site.
An entertaining, if a little too long, three hours of wallowing in television nostalgia.
The Travel Locker