- in In Pictures
Nicholas Parsons’ career as a consummate broadcaster began during wartime in the 1940s and continued until he was in his mid-90s.
During that time, he became a national treasure thanks to his hosting of TV quiz shows like Sale of the Century, his chairing of Radio 4’s long-running Just A Minute, and his comic acting.
Parsons was on the airwaves across eight decades, beginning his career as a prolific actor and comic performer on the radio and TV in the 1940s and 1950s. He is pictured here recording an episode of the Home Service’s comedy Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh in 1954.
In 1959, he played the artist Taffy (left) in a TV adaptation of George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby, about a model who falls under the spell of Svengali, who turns her into a singing star.
He married Denise Bryer in 1954, and they had two children, Suzy and Justin.
In December 1967, a theatre hired two security guards for a day after a threat was made to kidnap him. The threat came from students, according to reports at the time, and Parsons had to stay locked in his dressing room between the matinee and evening performances.
The supposed kidnap threat came the same week that Parsons began hosting Just A Minute – which he continued to do for more than half a century. He is pictured here in 1971 with panellists (left-right) Aimi MacDonald, Peter Jones, Kenneth Williams and Clement Freud.
He became a fixture on television as well as radio in 1971 when he began hosting Anglia TV’s quiz show Sale of the Century, in which contestants accumulated money with which to buy classy household goods and possibly even a new car.
The show had audiences of 20 million at its peak, and Parsons continued hosting until 1983. He is pictured on a celebrity edition with Derek Batey, Steve Jones and Tom O’Connor in 1980.
Kenneth Williams was one of the stars of Just A Minute. His contribution was “utterly individual”, according to Parsons – who was often on the receiving end of Williams’ wicked humour.
When ITV started broadcasting through the night with The Night Network in the 1980s, Parsons hosted quiz show The Alphabet Game, with rock star Alice Cooper appearing on the first edition.
Parsons played Rev Wainwright in the 1989 Dr Who adventure The Curse of Fenric, at one point having to hold back a horde of vampire-like Haemovores.
He attended the very first Edinburgh Festival in 1947 at the age of 23, and in 2010 he hosted a special edition of Just A Minute on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile with contestants including Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills and Gyles Brandreth.
There were plenty of candles for the cake at his 90th birthday party in 2013.
He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by the Queen in 2014 for charitable services.
He married his second wife Ann Reynolds in 1995, and they are pictured here at the 2019 Oldie of the Year Awards, where Parsons received the prize for outstanding contribution to broadcasting.