What went wrong in Parky vs Ryan? Contested Roles in the Emergence of Disalignment

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


In 2003, long standing chat show host Michael Parkinson interviewed actor Meg Ryan. Parkinson has since described the interview as his 'most difficult television moment', while Ryan is reported to have described Parkinson as 'a nut'. Equally observers are split over whether the blame for the notoriously bad interview lay with interviewer or interviewee. Adopting a conversation analytic approach, this paper examines the organisation of preference and repair in this semi-institutional setting with a view to understanding the sequential properties of the emerging disaffiliation in the interview and providing insight into the highly contested audience perceptions of the interview participants. It is suggested that it is the complex interplay between the sequential organisation of the production of dispreferred responses, the forms of initiation of repair and orientation to expansion relevant sequences that fosters such contested evaluations of the interview participants’ roles in the disalignment. The analysis also reveals that both participants orient to and adhere to the institutional constraints on the interaction and their institutional roles but fail to achieve the interactional goals of the talk show. This single case analysis of a failed talk show interview shows the subtle interactional and co-produced nature of disalignment and underlines the need to engage in micro-level turn-by-turn examination of situated interaction to understand macro issues of communication.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
Number of pages0
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 23 Mar 2012
EventDiscourse, Communication, Conversation -
Duration: 23 Mar 2012 → …


ConferenceDiscourse, Communication, Conversation
Period23/03/12 → …


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