“Broadcasting legend” Nicholas Parsons has died after a short illness, aged 96.
Best known for radio game show Just A Minute, which he had hosted since its inception in 1967, Parsons was a veteran of television, radio and theatre, with a career in entertainment spanning more than 60 years.
A statement issued by his agent Jean Diamond, on behalf of his family, said: “Nicholas passed away in the early hours of 28 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.”
Tributes are pouring in from stars, friends and those who worked with Parsons over the years.
Julia McKenzie, creative director at BBC Studios Audio, which produces Just A Minute, described the presenter as “a smart and passionate man who cared deeply” about his show and its devoted listeners.
“He was utterly charming and faultlessly professional,” she said.
“He was funny and kind in person and wonderful company. I can’t really believe he is gone today, he seemed indestructible. His legacy will live on with over 50 years of laughter-filled shows and the lasting friendships he made through his extraordinary career in show business.
“My thoughts are very much with Annie, his beloved wife and constant support and companion who attended every recording, and the rest of his family.
“Nicholas, you dear man, what a full life you lived – you really did bring much wit and joy to us all and we thank you for that – we miss you.”
Oh no. Nicholas Parsons gone? He ruled Just a Minute for Just a Lifetime. A stunning achievement: never scripted, always immaculate. From comedian’s sidekick to great institution, via Sale of the Century & much more. Unrivalled continuity, professionalism & commitment. Farewell x
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) January 28, 2020
The sound of the final whistle. Nicholas Parsons was truly the kindest and most generous person I’ve ever worked with. His continued delight at being a part of show business should be an inspiration to us all! Huge love to his wife Annie and his whole family. #ripnicholasparsons
— graham norton (@grahnort) January 28, 2020
BBC director-general Tony Hall said: “Very few people have done so much to entertain audiences over the decades, and no one deserves to be called a broadcasting legend more than Nicholas Parsons.
“His charm, inventive intellect and ability to create laughs were unsurpassed. Our thoughts are with his family and all who knew him.”
At the Chortle Awards 2016, the room was cacophonous, everyone was talking over the winners as usual, all night, until Nicholas Parsons won an award, and a reverent hush fell over the whole room followed by a thunderous standing ovation. Even drunk comics know true quality. #RIP
— Rachel Parris (@rachelparris) January 28, 2020
The cricketer in him would have loved to make 100 (he played many times- into his 80s- for the Lord’s Taverners) but that was an incredible innings. Decades in entertainment, suave, debonair & sharp to the very end. Legend. RIP. *Cue the Minute Waltz* #Nicholasparsons https://t.co/2ukWY4HKhX
— Rory Bremner (@rorybremner) January 28, 2020
Dame Esther Rantzen described Parsons as “a miracle of broadcasting talent at an age when many people would have gratefully retired”, and said he should have been knighted.
“His mental and verbal agility kept the iconic radio 4 programme Just A Minute going from the time he chaired the pilot, through to today,” she said.
“He overcame a stammer, he was extraordinarily versatile, from being the perfect straight man for famous comics, to appearing in black suspenders in the Rocky Horror Show, to delighting full houses at the Edinburgh Festival, to his most recent role as King Rat of the Water Rats charity.
“His huge contribution to Childline and The Silver Line has made a huge difference transforming the lives of children and older people, and he has been a valued supporter for the Lord’s Taverners and many other charities.
“The only mystery is why he was never knighted but friends and admirers like me always thought of him as Sir Nicholas Parsons. As a friend of his for many years I will miss him desperately and I know his millions of fans will feel the same.”
The end of an era. Nicholas Parsons was such a lovely man – and so versatile: actor, entertainer, writer, TV star & radio host without equal, but for me, most of all, friend. I knew him for more than 50 years: he was simply the best. Thinking of his wonderful wife Annie & family. pic.twitter.com/p1Dl1rWqfJ
— Gyles Brandreth (@GylesB1) January 28, 2020
Born on 10 October 1923, in Grantham, Lincolnshire, Parsons went on to clock up numerous acting and comedy parts but was best known for his years as question master of ITV quiz show Sale Of The Century and for BBC Radio 4’s Just A Minute.
The show features celebrity guests striving to talk about a subject for 60 seconds “without hesitation, repetition or deviation”.
In 2016, Prince Charles, a fan of the show, performed a cameo on the programme’s Christmas special.
A consummate professional, Parsons made headlines in June 2018 when he missed his first ever episode of the show, after 50 years at the helm and more than 900 instalments.
:: Listen to the Backstage podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
The star also appeared with comic Arthur Haynes in his ITV show in the early 1960s, and was a regular on The Benny Hill Show too.
He had guest roles in Doctor Who and children’s series Bodger And Badger, and also performed in a cross-dressing role in a touring production of The Rocky Horror Show.
Dear Nicholas Parsons RIP. So clever, funny and generous. I thought he, and the twinkle in his eyes, would go on forever. What a remarkable life and career.
— Julian Clary (@JulianClary) January 28, 2020
Years ago I was due to do Just A Minute and had to cancel at the last minute because of Unexpected Developments in the run up to the birth of one of my kids. The next day, Nicholas Parsons called to make sure everything was all right and ask if we needed anything. RIP, you gent.
— Chris Addison (@mrchrisaddison) January 28, 2020
Among his many charitable commitments, he had a long association with the Grand Order of Water Rats and the Lord’s Taverners, for which he has served as president.
He said he was “flattered and delighted” to be awarded a CBE for his charitable work in December 2013.
Parsons leaves behind his wife Annie and two children from his previous marriage.
Source : Sky News