Legendary English presenter and Just A Minute host Nicholas Parsons has died at the age of 96, his agent confirmed today, with celebrities already sharing emotional tributes. A statement issued by his agent Jean Diamond, on behalf of his family, said: ‘Nicholas passed away in the early hours of the 28th of January after a short illness at the age of 96. ‘He was with his beloved family who will miss him enormously and who wish to thank the wonderful staff at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital.’ Parsons’ career spanned more than half a century, with the star clocking up numerous acting and comedy parts – but he was best known for his years as question master of TV quiz Sale Of The Century and for his role as host of BBC Radio 4’s Just A Minute, which he helmed from its inception in 1967. Piers Morgan was quick to pay tribute to the presenter, writing on Twitter this morning: ‘A wonderful man who brought so much fun, charm, wit & pleasure to so many millions of people over so many decades. ‘What a life.’
RIP Nicholas Parsons, 96.
A wonderful man who brought so much fun, charm, wit & pleasure to so many millions of people over so many decades. What a life. pic.twitter.com/3ZoRKQDOqQ
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 28, 2020
In 2012, Parsons celebrated the 45th anniversary of Just a Minute – in which celebrity guests strive to talk about a subject for 60 seconds without hesitation, repetition or deviation – while in 2016, Prince Charles, a fan of the show, performed a cameo on the programme’s Christmas special. On June 4, 2018, the presenter had fans worried when he missed his first ever episode of Just A Minute after 50 years at the helm, and was replaced by regular panellist Gyles Brandreth. With his absence sparking concerns for his health, BBC’s head of radio comedy explained that Parsons was ‘taking a couple of days off’. When introducing the show, Brandreth said: ‘After 50 years at the helm, [he] quite rightly thinks he should be allowed a day off.’
Only last month Nicholas recalled a ‘nasty fall’ on the train to Edinburgh, ahead of his scheduled Fringe Festival performance, that landed him in hospital back in England. ‘At 96 years of age, one thing this experience has taught me is to be aware of the number of years you have lived and, after an illness, accept that it takes much longer to return to anything resembling normal health,’ he wrote for the i. ‘Pace yourself according to the age you have reached and count the blessings that age has brought and any wisdom that goes with it.’ He insisted he would be back on set to record more Just A Minute, even though Parsons said his fall and subsequent treatment was ‘a very slow and uncomfortable recuperation’.
Parsons was born on October 10 1923, in Grantham, Lincolnshire, where his father was GP to the family of Baroness Thatcher. After studying at St Paul’s School in London, he headed to Clydebank as an apprentice engineer, despite his own hopes of becoming an actor. But his impressions were featured in a radio show and, following performances with amateur concert parties after the Second World War, he moved into acting – working in rep at Bromley in Kent.
He found TV fame appearing with comic Arthur Haynes in his ITV show in the early 1960s, and he was also a regular on The Benny Hill Show. At the tail end of 1967, he introduced Just A Minute for the first time – and the show is still going strong today. Within a few years, he had also become known for hosting ITV’s Sale Of The Century, which launched as a regional show in 1971, and was broadcast nationally by 1975.
Parsons also had guest roles in Doctor Who, children’s series Bodger And Badger, as well as taking a cross-dressing role in a touring production of The Rocky Horror Show in his 70s, and performing a number of seasons with his one-man shows at the Edinburgh Festival. In 1990, he starred in London’s West End in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into The Woods, and his autobiography The Straight Man – My Life in Comedy was published in 1994. He was a regular guest on television and radio comedy shows, and in 1999 he took his comedy chat show The Nicholas Parsons Happy Hour to the Edinburgh Festival, returning to the event in years that followed.
Parsons was ‘flattered and delighted’ at being awarded a CBE for his charitable work in December 2013. He said at the time that he would save celebrations for his day at the palace, joking that his 90th had been enthusiastically marked. ‘I received the letter two months ago and was told to keep quiet about it or it might be taken away so my wife and I kept quiet about it,’ he revealed. He added: ‘We won’t be celebrating until the day we go to the palace – I’ve done so much celebrating for my 90th birthday this year.’ 10 years previously, Parsons received an OBE for services to drama and broadcasting. Only last year Parsons was given a Broadcasting Press Guild (BPG) award for his outstanding contribution to broadcasting.
BPG chairman Jake Kanter said of Parsons: ‘His warmth, sharp wit and clear-headed determinations in rooms full of fast-talking show offs have kept him at the top of his game.” Parsons married his second wife Ann Reynolds in 1995, and had two children from his first marriage to Denise Bryer.
source : meteo.co.uk