Broadcaster Nicholas Parsons dies aged 96
PUBLISHED: 11:27 28 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:44 28 January 2020
Broadcaster Nicholas Parsons has died at the age of 96.
He was well known for presenting the Anglia TV quiz show Sale of the Century, which was filmed in Norwich and coined the phrase "and now from Norwich, it's the quiz of the week."
Described as a true veteran of the stage, screen and airwaves his career spanned more than half a century.
A statement issued by his agent Jean Diamond on Tuesday, 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."
Mr Parsons, who lived near Eye, was also the host of BBC Radio 4's Just a Minute since its first broadcast in December 1967, never missing an episode until June 2018.
He 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.
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.
During his career he would star on the West End stage in Stephen Sondheim's musical Into The Woods, and was a regular guest on television and radio comedy shows.
He was appointed officer of the order of the British Empire in 2004 for his service to broadcasting. He was later made commander of the order of the British empire for services to children's charities.
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.
Parsons said he was "flattered and delighted" to be awarded a CBE for his charitable work.
He said at the time that he would save celebrations for his day at the palace, joking that his 90th had been enthusiastically marked.
In 2019 Parsons was give a Broadcasting Press Guild (BPG) award for his outstanding contribution to broadcasting.
Norfolk actor Stephen Fry tweeted: "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."
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.
"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."