The ABC is warning viewers watching old repeats of the local TV series from beloved British talk show host Michael Parkinson that some content may now be offensive.  The revered presenter is pictured with his wife Mary

ABC warns old Michael Parkinson episodes could offend viewers in latest wake-up call

The ABC is warning viewers watching old repeats of the local TV series from beloved British talk show host Michael Parkinson that some content may now be offensive.

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

Sixteen of the 28 episodes of Parkinson’s 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 attitudes that do not conform to current standards and may offend some viewers.”

The ABC is warning viewers watching old repeats of the local TV series from beloved British talk show host Michael Parkinson that some content may now be offensive. The revered presenter is pictured with his wife Mary

The interviews that Michael Parkinson conducted with Bob Hawke, Kerry Packer, Peter Allen, Gough Whitlam and Paul Hogan now come with a disclaimer.  Packer is pictured with Hogan

The interviews that Michael Parkinson conducted with Bob Hawke, Kerry Packer, Peter Allen, Gough Whitlam and Paul Hogan now come with a disclaimer. Packer is pictured with Hogan

One of the seemingly offensive episodes – all of which are PG-rated – features Parkinson interviewing current ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose when she was editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly and Cleo.

The “Viewer Advice” does not specify which guests on each program are likely to offend or what they might say that is inappropriate.

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

Gough Whitlam, Barry Humphries, Rod Laver, Peter Allen, Colleen McCullough, George Negus, Mike Walsh, John Farnham, and Jack Thompson are other interview subjects who appear in episodes that should be viewed with caution.

Broadcaster Ben Fordham mocked the warnings as “another example of political correctness creeping into our lives” during his 2GB breakfast program on Friday.

“This time it’s the ABC in Australia taking action,” he said. “In their sights – Sir Michael Parkinson. Yes Parky.

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

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

Sixteen of the 28 episodes of Parkinson's 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’s 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 possibly offend?” We have done our best to try to resolve this issue.

“These are just conversations with great Australian characters in all their glory, characters we sadly often miss in today’s tense world.”

In one episode, Parkinson asks Hawke – a notorious womanizer – if a newspaper claim that he “acts like a playboy” was correct. “I have my moments,” Hawke replies.

‘Do you really need a warning for that?’ Fordham asked.

It could be that Parkinson, who presented his eponymous British talk show from 1971 to 1982 and 1998 to 2007, is part of the perceived problem.

In his interview with then ACTU president Hawke, Parkinson said of the union officials, “They’ve got 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 was then host of A Current Affair.

Parkinson’s first question to Buttrose is whether she sees Willesee as a “macho pig”, after he introduced her as Australia’s most powerful woman.

“I didn’t hear the question for the squeak,” Buttrose replies.

‘I was told he was. Some of my friends who have worked with Mike over the years have told me that one of the requirements for being a reporter on his team is to have nice breasts.

Parkinson: ‘Is it true Mike, good boobs?’

Willesee: “I have nothing against that.”

When Parkinson asks Buttrose if there are a lot of macho pigs in Australia, she replies, “Well, some of my best friends are macho pigs.”

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

Parkinson: “Do you use your feminine charms when dealing with men?”

Buttrose: ‘Of course. Why not?’

One of the episodes - all of which are PG-rated - features Parkinson interviewing current ABC chair Ita Buttrose when she was editor of the Australian Women's Weekly and Cleo.

One of the episodes – all of which are PG-rated – features Parkinson interviewing current ABC chair Ita Buttrose when she was editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly and Cleo.

Willesee, who died three years ago, may have upset ABC censors in his response to Parkinson asking if he was sexist.

“I have a hard time understanding words like sexist and feminist,” he says. ‘Have you ever seen a female feminist?

‘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 strong views that if you don’t conform to them, you are seen as an adversary.”

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

Broadcaster Ben Fordham scoffed at the warnings as

Broadcaster Ben Fordham mocked the warnings as ‘another example of political correctness creeping into our lives’ during his 2GB breakfast program on Friday

“I put in a minute of this program, for example sending Greeks, Italians, Poms or Eskimos and you get 300 phone calls,” he says. You never hear them talk about sending Australians.

‘Maybe we sit there and think, “Oh yeah, I know a galah like that”.’

Fordham said this excerpt — or anything else he could find in Parkinson’s interview series — shouldn’t offend anyone.

“Don’t worry Hoges, there are still a few galahs and the ABC proves it in 2022 with Parky’s pre-show warnings,” he told his audience.

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

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

“This is also consistent with the approach taken by many other broadcasters and streaming services which include similar warnings for content that includes potentially offensive language or attitudes,” she said.

Olympic champion swimmer Ian Thorpe announced in a 2014 interview with Parkinson that he was gay.  Thorpe also revealed that he struggled with depression and alcohol abuse for most of his career.

Olympic champion swimmer Ian Thorpe announced in a 2014 interview with Parkinson that he was gay. Thorpe also revealed that he struggled with depression and alcohol abuse for most of his career.

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