83, journalist and author
someone from my background – Yorkshire accent, left school at 16 – to be on television. But I was lucky to be around when times were changing. Granada’s film series Cinema made my name in 1969. One of the great joys was that all my heroes I saw on screen ended up coming on my show. Hollywood moguls had decided that television was here to stay and finally allowed their strictly controlled stars to go on the small screen, and there I was, waiting like a great big spider, desperately wanting to talk to them.
In those days, there was an audible gasp from the audience when you said, “Ladies and gentleman, James Cagney!” They’d never seen such stars in real life. The fact they were real people, able to speak and tell jokes, was a revelation.
Cinema appeared between two episodes of Coronation Street. I would get 15million people watching me. I got very famous very quickly – so quickly that I didn’t know it had happened. I remember being mobbed in a fish and chip shop with Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tanner. It was really her the mob were waiting for. We had to be rescued by the fire brigade.
They were different times. It was a whirlwind – I didn’t have time to contemplate what was happening, I was just delighted I was doing a job that I enjoyed.
We did more than 2,000 interviews on Parkinson. To say I’ve fulfilled my ambition is to misunderstand the whole thing. Who could imagine or plan for the career I’ve had?
There’s nothing for me to do now in terms of television, because there aren’t many opportunities for 83-year-old men, never mind 83-yearold women. So you sit back and watch the others do their thing.
Another surprise is that when I worked for the Yorkshire Evening Post I met this gorgeous Irish girl on the