LONDON-Michael Parkinson, the veteran British chat show host whose decades-spanning career featured interviews with some of the world’s highest profile figures, has died at the age of 88, his family said Thursday. His BBC show “Parkinson” which first aired in June 1971 made him a household name. He died late on Wednesday following a brief illness. Muhammad Ali, Fred Astaire, Elton John, Paul McCartney and Peter Sellers were just a few of the famous names to grace his interview couch. Others included Lauren Bacall, David Bowie, Tom Cruise, Helen Mirren and Gwyneth Paltrow. “Sir Michael Parkinson passed away peacefully at home last night in the company of his family,” his family said in a statement, requesting “privacy and time to grieve”. The star interviewer’s BBC chat show enjoyed a successful run until 1982 before being revived in 1998. He switched from the BBC to commercial rival ITV in 2004, where he continued until 2007. Parkinson’s final two-hour show in late 2007 featured a typically star-studded line-up of footballer David Beckham, actors Michael Caine and Judy Dench, environmental broadcaster David Attenborough and comedian Billy Connolly. Parkinson was knighted by the late Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2008. “I never expected to be knighted -- I thought there was more chance of me turning into a Martian really,” said the broadcaster who grew up the son of a miner in a working class community in northern England.