Monday, January 24, 2011

Michael Parkinson Becomes Honorary Australian

Comedian Ben Elton has become a citizen and 70's star Leo Sayer loves the place.

Now Sir Michael Parkinson has been given the rare honour of giving the Australia Day address at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music tonight.

Parky is no stranger to the place, Both he and wife, the TV presenter Mary Parkinson have been visiting Australia for 30 years. They spend most summers in an apartment in Rushcutter's Bay overlooking the harbour. One daughter and her family have lived here for 20 years which gives them the excuse to visit.

But of course, Parkinson's love of Australia has always been well known and since his retirement last year he told the Shuttle in January 2010 that one of the joys of giving up his interview program was the ability to spend more time here and of course, the ability to watch even more cricket, one of his greatest loves.

Leo Sayer (Australia Day Council)
Tonight Michael Parkinson in his speech pointed out some of the reasons he loves the place including the lack of snobbery and the directness of Aussies. He used former Prime Minister Paul Keating as an example pointing out the outrage that surged through British tabloids when Keating put a protective arm around HRH The Queen on an official visit and labelled Keating The Lizard of Oz :

 "He was simply reaching out in a friendly gesture as one human being to another. Here we are all human beings."

Parkinson said Australia first came to his attention as a boy in Shropshire when his miner father constantly commented on the quality of Australian cricketers. In his speech he marvelled at how the country had progressed from a penal colony to in his words : "one of the most powerful and progressive nations in the world".

And he brought up the subject of the devastating floods in Queensland and the dreadful bush fires in Victoria last year saying :

"It is a reminder to the world of the resilience and the courage of the Australian people"

# Fans of Parky should check out former East Ender Graeme Goldberg's Dee Bees cafe in Double Bay where Michael and Mary often take breakfast. You may even see Leo Sayer there-he and Goldberg are great mates. According to Graeme, Ben Elton is yet to visit as he lives in Perth with his family.

See our earlier chat with Michael Parkinson at Doyles in Watson's Bay.

A reminder of Michael Parkinson's brilliant show with one of his favourite guests-Dame Edna Everage.