26/04/2004

Chat show veteran Parkinson moves to ITV

ITV has signed up BBC chat show veteran Michael Parkinson on a two-year deal, it has emerged today.

Mr Parkinson, who has hosted his eponymously-titled programme for 18 years, said that he decided to move to commercial broadcaster ITV after his Saturday night primetime slot was threatened by the return of Match of the Day.

The chat show legend said that he was "very sorry" to leave the BBC but when the BBC brought back Match of the Day, "effectively my spot had gone".

ITV has reported today that the BBC proposed moving his programme to 9pm on Wednesday night, which was opposed by Mr Parkinson. A final proposal of 9pm Saturday was also rejected, according to ITV.

As he could not retain his Saturday night 10pm slot, Mr Parkinson said that he was forced to either leave for another channel or consider his retirement.

Committed fans of the chat show should expect no change from its current format, according to the presenter.

"The guests won't change, the show won't change," he said. "All I've done is move the show over. It's a proven show and will work just as well on ITV as on the BBC."

Paying tribute to Mr Parkinson, BBC One Controller Lorraine Heggessey said: "Michael Parkinson is the doyen of talk show hosts and its been fantastic to have his show on BBC One.

"With Match of the Day returning to Saturday nights we were unable to offer Michael the slot he wanted.

"Of course I'm sorry to see him go but BBC One was already preparing for the future with big names from the next generation who are moving the talk show on."

The show's executive producer Bea Ballard said that Michael was a " brilliant interviewer" and it had been a "huge delight to work with him".

(gmcg)

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