Parky takes to the Sky for series of retrospective celebrity interviews

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Chat show king Sir Michael Parkinson is to return to TV interviews four years after his retirement with a new series for Sky.

The Yorkshire-born interviewer bowed out from his Saturday night ITV series in late 2007 after years of quizzing showbiz greats.

Soon he is to host a six-part Masterclass series for Sky in which he looks back over the career of one artist each week to discuss their “life and times”.

And – depending on the celebrity – the shows will also include acoustic performances or dramatic recitals.

Sir Michael’s original shows were famed for acclaimed appearances by greats such as Muhammad Ali, Bob Hope, Orson Welles, Robert Mitchum and Bette Davis.

The long-running Saturday shows for the BBC also featured memorable moments such as the time he was attacked by Rod Hull’s puppet Emu.

Latterly, a cringeworthy 2003 interview with Meg Ryan achieved notoriety.

The new series is Sir Michael’s first for Sky after many years with the BBC and then with ITV. His involvement follows the announcement that Melvyn Bragg is to revive the South Bank Show on the broadcaster’s arts channel.

Sir Michael said: “I’m delighted to be working with Sky Arts on the Masterclass series and look forward to being part of the exciting times ahead for this innovative and important channel.”

The series – The Sky Arts Masterclass with Michael Parkinson – will be recorded in front of studio audiences, who will also ask questions.

Channel director James Hunt said: “It’s a real privilege to welcome Sir Michael onto the channel. This new interview series will allow Sir Michael to get closer than ever before to his subject, extracting the essence of their character in a way that only he can. We’re delighted to welcome him on board.”

Recordings are due to start in May. The deal comes as part of the channel’s relaunch with a budget that has been tripled.