‘They should re-run the best shows of my giant friend Parky,’ says Jimmy Tarbuck

Jimmy Tarbuck said he planned to have lunch with Sir Michael Parkinson this week as he paid tribute to a friend he called a “giant of our industry”.

Chat show host Sir Michael has been praised by his celebrity guests including Sir Elton John, Sir Rod Stewart, Sir David Attenborough and David Beckham following his death at the age of 88 on Wednesday.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain yesterday, veteran comedian Tarbuck said: “Last week at the house, I was with young Michael, his son, and [I] said, ‘I’ll go now, you’re getting a bit tired’. He said, ‘Yeah, Okay. Thanks for coming, lunch next week?’

“I said, ‘You arrange it and I’ll be there’, and unfortunately I won’t.”

Tarbuck, 83, said Sir Michael was a “great journalist” and a “modest man” who was “delightful company”.

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He added: “Simply the best… he listened, and he could be serious and he had serious people on his shows.

“It was just compelling viewing and I think personally they should run [rebroadcast] nine of his shows, his best interviews. He gave birth to people [like] Billy Connolly nationally…

“My first one on [his show], I’m not praising but I had a good night and it was so good that it got me back on at the Palladium and I was grateful to him.” Tarbuck added: “He was a giant, a giant of our industry.

“I’m getting choked now, he was a giant friend.” Actress Dame Maureen Lipman, who recently had lunch with Sir Michael, said: “He was one of the Northern lads for whom Granada [Television] was an extension of university.

His transfer to light entertainment was a result of his good looks, personable manner and ready wit.” The son of a South Yorkshire miner, Sir Michael shot to fame with his BBC chat show Parkinson, which ran from 1971-82 before being revived in 1998

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It switched to ITV in 2004 and ran until 2007.

Singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum, who performed on the show in 2003, told Radio 4’s Today programme: “He was fascinated by people, and I always found that being interviewed by him, he would genuinely be interested in the answer, and I particularly found that with musicians.

“He had that passion for the ­minutiae of what it means to be any kind of artist or sportsman and what that particular obsession is that gets you to where you want to be. He just wanted to know.”

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