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Helen Mirren: ‘I got the s*** for Michael Parkinson interview – he didn’t’

Adam White
Helen Mirren stars as Catherine the Great in HBO and Sky's new four-part drama: Getty Images

Helen Mirren has said that she “got the s***” for her infamous 1975 interview with Michael Parkinson, and that the talk show host “never could quite grasp” what he did wrong.

During their sit-down on his BBC chat show, Parkinson introduced Mirren, then 30, as the “sex queen” of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He then asked if her “equipment” or “physical attributes” had prevented her from becoming a serious actor, and whether the size of her breasts “detract from the performance”.

Asked by Flaunt Magazine whether she has re-examined the interview in the wake of the #MeToo movement, Mirren said: “After that Parkinson interview, I was the one who got the s***. He didn’t. I got the s***. I got the s*** for being argumentative.”

She continued: “I don’t want to diss Michael, but he did blow it that once, because, you know, he didn’t know any different.

“He never saw it. I mentioned it to him again years later and he never saw what was wrong with it. He never could quite grasp it.”

Mirren has previously referred to Parkinson as a “sexist old fart” for his comments.

In 2016, Parkinson refused to apologise to Mirren, saying: “I don’t want to. Nor does she. I don’t regard what happened there as being anything other than good television.”

He continued: “There is no need to apologise, not at all. She didn’t want to do an interview and after about 10 minutes, I didn’t want to interview her. There’s no problem, it’s not World War III for God’s sake.”

Mirren recently called out a presenter of The One Show after she referred to her characters as “feisty”, saying that she finds the word “insulting”.