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Brian Reade Column: TALK ABOUT BACK-SLAPPING.

Byline: BRIAN READE

UNTIL recently I had massive respect for Michael Parkinson. Now I have slightly more respect for Lady Victoria Hervey. She may be prostituting herself but at least she has the excuse of being young, dim and in desperate need of recognition.

So what's Parky's excuse? Why has a once-heavyweight inquisitor turned into a lightweight sycophant who allows himself to become a vehicle for Hello! celebrities to publicise their latest book or record, safe in the knowledge that the only tricky question they will face all night is what colour M&Ms they would like in their dressing room?

Saturday's show, on which Victoria Beckham and George Best plugged books and Elton John a record, reached an all-time low in bottom-licking. Not a tough question was asked, not a secret exposed. David Beckham showed us (again) he couldn't string a syllable together. Posh told us she called David "Goldenballs" then gave us her impression of a castrated cat. Bestie told us he had a drink problem (a new one on me) and Elton just looked fat and camp, happy to have his huge ego stroked while proving he's still alive and making records.

All the while Parkinson laughed like a nervous teenager on a first date, rubbed his hands together like Uriah Heep and bowled them softer questions than Steps get from a guest editor of their junior fanzine.

But the saddest aspect of this excuse for an adult talk-show came afterwards when Parky said he wasn't surprised he pulled in nine million viewers because it was his "best show ever".

I hate to tell you, mate, but the figures were high because the BBC leaked to every Saturday morning newspaper the fact that Becks had cried while his wife sang. And like rubbernecks at a road accident we couldn't help but have a look at the tragic scene.

For those who remember what Parky used to be like, the biggest tragedy is seeing him happily turn into a patsy. Taken for a ride by a ratings-obsessed BBC, sucked in by an old pals showbiz network, made weak and lazy by age and an unchallenged reputation.

For those of you who don't remember what he was like, he was good. Very good. Seeing him today is like dying, being frozen for 20 years, thawing out and watching John Humphrys and Jeremy Paxman as Ant & Dec.

CAPTION(S):

TRAGIC: Mutual appreciation society of Parky, Elton John, Victoria and David Beckham and George Best
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 27, 2001
Words:414
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