The ABC is warning viewers watching old reruns of beloved British talk show host Michael Parkinson's local television series that some of the content may now be offensive.  The respected presenter is pictured with wife Mary

ABC warns old Michael Parkinson episodes could offend viewers in latest wake move

The ABC is warning viewers watching old reruns of beloved British talk show host Michael Parkinson’s local television series that some of the content may now be offensive.

The national broadcaster is replaying classic programs to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the broadcast, but finds what Parkinson’s guests had to say 40 years ago no longer acceptable.

Sixteen of the 28 episodes of Parkinson In Australia, screened between 1979 and 1982 and available on ABC’s iView platform, now come with a written and spoken warning:

“The following program expresses an attitude that is not up to current standards and may offend some viewers.”

The ABC is warning viewers watching old reruns of beloved British talk show host Michael Parkinson’s local television series that some of the content may now be offensive. The respected presenter is pictured with wife Mary

Interviews Michael Parkinson conducted with Bob Hawke, Kerry Packer, Peter Allen, Gough Whitlam and Paul Hogan now come with a warning.  Packer is pictured with Hogan

Interviews Michael Parkinson conducted with Bob Hawke, Kerry Packer, Peter Allen, Gough Whitlam and Paul Hogan now come with a warning. Packer is pictured with Hogan

In one of the apparently offensive episodes — all of which are rated PG — Parkinson interviews current ABC chairman Ita Buttrose when she was editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly and Cleo.

The ‘viewer’s advice’ does not specify which guests on each program might be offensive or what they might say that is inappropriate.

Advances to get the warning treatment include appearances by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, the late media mogul Kerry Packer and actor Paul Hogan.

Other interview topics featured in episodes that should be viewed with caution include Gough Whitlam, Barry Humphries, Rod Laver, Peter Allen, Colleen McCullough, George Negus, Mike Walsh, John Farnham, and Jack Thompson.

Announcer Ben Fordham derided the warnings as “another example of political correctness creeping into our lives” in his 2GB breakfast show on Friday.

“This time the ABC in Australia is taking action,” he said. ‘In their sights – Sir Michael Parkinson. Yes, Parkie.

In a 1979 interview with Hogan, the comedian discusses complaints he gets about jokes he makes on his own television show.  Parkinson is pictured with Hogan

In a 1979 interview with Hogan, the comedian discusses complaints he gets about jokes he makes on his own television show. Parkinson is pictured with Hogan

Sixteen of the 28 episodes of Parkinson In Australia, screened between 1979 and 1982 and available on ABC's iView platform, now come with a written and spoken warning

Sixteen of the 28 episodes of Parkinson In Australia, screened between 1979 and 1982 and available on ABC’s iView platform, now come with a written and spoken warning

“Now the program is rated PG, so what could be offensive? We did our best to make that happen.

“It’s just conversations with some great Aussie characters in all their glory, characters we often miss in the modern, tense world.”

In one episode, Parkinson asks Hawke – a notorious womanizer – if a newspaper’s claim that he “performs like a playboy” is true. “I have my moments,” Hawke replies.

“Do you really need a warning about that?” asked Fordham.

Parkinson’s, who hosted his British talk show of the same name from 1971 to 1982 and 1998 to 2007, may be part of the perceived problem.

In his interview with Hawke, then ACTU president, Parkinson said of union officials, “They have about as much personality as a cigar-shop Indian.”

Legendary media executive Buttrose appears in a 1979 episode with the late television journalist Mike Willesee, who then hosted A Current Affair.

Parkinson’s first question to Buttrose is whether she considers Willesee a “male chauvinistic pig” after introducing her as Australia’s most powerful woman.

“I didn’t hear the question because of the grunting,” Buttrose replies.

“I’ve been told he is. Some of my female friends who have worked with Mike over the years have told me that one of the requirements to be a journalist on his team is good boobs.”

Parkinson: ‘Is that so Mike, good breasts?’

Willesee: ‘I have nothing against that.’

When Parkinson asks Buttrose if there are many male chauvinistic pigs in Australia, she replies, “Well, some of my best friends are male chauvinistic pigs.”

“If you don’t like them, you’ve got a terrible problem here.”

Parkinson: ‘Do you use your feminine charms when you hang out with men?’

Buttrose: ‘Of course. Why not?’

In one of the episodes - all of which are rated PG - Parkinson interviews current ABC chairman Ita Buttrose when she was editor of the Australian Women's Weekly and Cleo

In one of the episodes – all of which are rated PG – Parkinson interviews current ABC chairman Ita Buttrose when she was editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly and Cleo

Willesee, who died three years ago, could have upset ABC censors in his response to Parkinson’s when asked if he was sexist.

“I find it hard to understand words like sexist and feminist,” he says. “Have you ever seen a feminist who was female?

“Have you ever been accused of being sexist by someone who wasn’t? No, I do not understand.

“There are groups of people with such ingrained ideas that if you don’t stick to them, you’re seen as an opponent.”

In a 1979 interview with Hogan, the comedian discusses complaints he gets about jokes he makes on his own television show.

Announcer Ben Fordham derided the warnings as 'another example of political correctness creeping into our lives' in his 2GB breakfast show on Friday

Announcer Ben Fordham derided the warnings as ‘another example of political correctness creeping into our lives’ in his 2GB breakfast show on Friday

“If I say a minute of that program, send Greeks or Italians or Poms or Eskimos, you get 300 hundred calls,” he says. “You never get to hear them about sending Australians.

“Maybe we’ll sit there and say, ‘Ah yes, I know a galah like that’.”

Fordham said this clip — or anything else he could find in Parkinson’s interview series — should not offend anyone.

“Don’t worry Hoges, there are a few more galahs around and the ABC will prove it in 2022 with the warnings for Parky’s show,” he told his audience.

“So if you think they were sensitive at the time, we’ve got news for you: we now have warnings for shows featuring these great Australian characters.”

An ABC spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia that “the use of warnings before content of this nature is in accordance with ABC’s editorial policy.”

“It is also consistent with the approach of many other broadcasters and streaming services that have similar warnings about content that may contain offensive language or attitudes,” she said.

Champion Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe announced in an interview with Parkinson in 2014 that he is gay.  Thorpe also revealed that he battled depression and alcohol abuse for most of his career

Champion Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe announced in an interview with Parkinson in 2014 that he is gay. Thorpe also revealed that he battled depression and alcohol abuse for most of his career

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