HE is a British icon whose interviews with the likes of Muhammad Ali and Sir Billy Connolly have become key moments of television history, but Sir Michael Parkinson is now in the midst of a 'woke' row.


How so?

Now 87, Sir Michael remains a household name for presenting his TV talk show Parkinson from 1971 to 1982, and then again from 1998 to 2007, when the biggest names of those eras joined him to discuss their work and lives.


The biggest names?

Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, Lauren Bacall, Peter Sellers, Madonna, Tom Hanks, David Niven, Fred Astaire to name only a few.


The Big Yin?

His appearances remain among the most memorable, notably the first, back in 1975, that transformed the Scots comic into a household name overnight, courtesy of a memorable joke involving ‘parking a bike’. Sir Michael recalled: “When Billy appeared on the show, nobody had ever heard of him, and on he came, made one joke and it made him.” And the Big Yin since said: “When I finished that show, I flew back to Glasgow and the whole airport started to applaud. I thought 'I think I've done something here'. Whoosh, I never looked back."


Other big moments?

So many, from being attacked by chaotic Emu, via puppeteer Rod Hull in 1976, to an awkward experience with Sleepless in Seattle star Meg Ryan in 2003, and sparks flying with Ali in 1974 as the pair discussed race and faith. 


So what’s happening now?

The chat show icon has a long history with Australia - spending summers there with his family over the decades and also recording seasons of Parkinson in Australia between 1979 and 1982. The Daily Mail in Australia report they are now being repeated on Australian broadcaster ABC’s iView platform, but have been given a warning due to potentially “offensive” content.



The warning states: “The following program expresses attitudes that are not consistent with current standards and may offend some viewers.”


What’s the issue?

The warnings do not specify which guests or comments in each episode are viewed as contentious. For example, though, in one episode, while speaking to former Australian prime minister, Bob Hawke, Sir Michael asked if rumours he “performs like a playboy” were correct and he replies: “I have my moments.”


Who are the other guests?

They include late media tycoon Kerry Packer and Crocodile Dundee actor Paul Hogan.


What’s the reaction been?

Broadcast journalist Ben Fordham was among high-profile Australians to ridicule the warnings, saying, “We’ve been watching it and we can’t work out what the problem is, telling listeners to his radio show: “This time it's the ABC in Australia taking action. In their sights - Sir Michael Parkinson. Yes, Parky. They're just conversations with some great Aussie characters in all their glory, characters that in the modern uptight world we're sadly often missing.”


It’s part of a new trend?

Earlier this year in the UK, the BBC made headlines for making cuts to repeats of classic radio shows, including episodes of Dad's Army and Steptoe and Son, while on BBC iPlayer, repeats - such as episodes of The Office that are now 20 years old - feature ‘Discriminatory language’ warnings, while episodes of programmes such as Ronnie Barker’s Porridge - made in the the 1970s - feature a warning: “Contains language which may offend.”