Michael Parkinson breaks silence on wife’s plea for him to quit drinking: ‘Deeply unhappy’

Michael Parkinson: I wrote George Best book out of 'guilt'

Sir Michael Parkinson, 85, has revealed exclusively to Express.co.uk that there was a “deeply unhappy” period in his marriage to his wife of over 60 years, Mary Ann Parkinson. The chat show legend told how he began to increasingly rely upon alcohol during the beginning of his career when he was working on Fleet Street.

I stopped

Michael Parkinson

However after Mary said he had become “ugly” when he drank, the star decided it was to quit alcohol altogether.

He recalled: “I decided to quit drinking when my wife turned to me and said, ‘The problem with you is when you drink you can become ugly’, so I stopped.

“I was not far short of being a chronic alcoholic,” he added.

The chat show host said he turned to booze after going through difficulties in his life.

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He continued: “It was an episode in my life when I was deeply unhappy, and I took to drink. 

“Not the first or the last to do that. But I was delighted in the end that it was so easy for me to give up, it proved I was not an alcoholic.”

Michael was also inspired to quit drink after thinking about those who had become “tragically involved” with alcohol, including his friend George Best.

He told RTE: “George wasn’t the only example. I grew up in Fleet Street, in television at a time when heavy drinking was not frowned upon – well, it was frowned upon, but it was there all the time.

“Several of my friends in both print journalism and television were fairly heavy drinkers.

“I didn’t want to end up… I pulled out at the right time and I must say that when I pulled out, I had in mind people I knew who had become tragically involved with the booze.

“The killer, as far as I was concerned, psychiatrists can make of this what they want, but I might remember it as being the thing that stopped me, was Mary my wife.”

Michael and Mary married back in 1959 after meeting in Yorkshire.

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They have three children, Andrew, Nicholas and Michael Jr, who were born in 1960, 1964, and August 1967, respectively, along with eight grandchildren. 

Michael Parkinson Jr, 53,  shared the difficulties of working for 15 years with his famous father, including on his extremely popular ITV chat show Parkinson.

The TV director admitted that sometimes his dad can “cross the line”, but the pair have never had a disagreement that can’t be fixed by having an open debate.

Michael Jr revealed: “I’ve always had the ability to separate the personal from the professional, whenever he crosses that line in the studio, he’s not my father, he’s Michael Parkinson, once he leaves the studio he becomes my father again.

“The problems occur when you blur those boundaries because you can never bring the personal in with the business because it’s not fair and it will destroy a relationship,” he added.

The son of the famed chat show host divulged that they have argued in the past because they both have their own “very strong opinions”.

He continued: “We have clashed. We have clashed simply because we both have very strong views of what is right.”

Speaking about the time the pair worked on Parkinson together, Michael Jr added: “We care about what we do, but we have never had a clash that… I mean from the outside, people have probably looked in and probably thought, ‘My God.’ We go at it like a hammer and tongs, because we want the same thing. 

“There have been a couple of times we have had brutal and frank discussions, but always part as friends.”

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