Just a Minute host Nicholas Parsons dies, aged 96

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie

Just a Minute host Nicholas Parsons has died aged 96 after a short illness, his agent said.

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 enjoyed a long career in entertainment, remaining active until his 90s.

He presented the BBC's Just a Minute at its inception in 1967; the show, which is still broadcast, involves contestants speaking for 60 seconds without repeating themselves or hesitating.

The star presented ITV Anglia show, which eventually went national, Sale of the Century. Credit: Anglia Television

He also appeared at the helm of several other hits series, including ITV's Sale Of The Century, which was produced by Anglia Television.

His career saw him work on other notable projects including The Arthur Haynes Show, Carry On Regardless, and Cluedo. Guest roles saw him appear in in Doctor Who, children's series Bodger And Badger.

The entertainer was given a Commander of the Order of the British Empire medal, or CBE, by the Queen at Windsor Castle in 2014 in recognition of his work.

Tributes paid to star who 'ruled Just a Minute for Just a lifetime'

Nicholas Parsons was awarded a CBE in 2014, which was presented by the Queen. Credit: PA

Tributes have been paid to the entertainer, with the BBC Director-General Tony Hall saying in a statement: "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," he continued.

Julia McKenzie, creative director at BBC Studios Audio which produces Just a Minute, said: "Nicholas was such a smart and passionate man who cared deeply about his radio show and Radio 4 and its devoted listeners. He was utterly charming and faultlessly professional."

Stephen Fry tweeted about his sadness at the news of the death. He called his career a "stunning achievement" as he praised his "unrivalled continuity, professionalism and commitment."

BBC presenter Andrew Neil tweeted: "So sad to learn of the death of Nicholas Parsons, though at 96 it was a pretty impressive innings. I last saw him a year ago and he was in great form. A more friendly, generous, polite and solicitous person you could not hope to meet."

TV host Graham Norton posted memories of the presenter: "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."

Gyles Brandreth posted on social media a tribute to the star: "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."