Nicholas “Bloody” Parsons



With apologies to I’m Sorry For Your Trouble, Nicholas Parsons has SADLY died aged 96. The esteemed comedian hosted Just a Minute from 1967 until its most recent broadcasted episodes in 1969. Fans of Parsons popular show enjoyed his repartee with many guests, including Kenneth Williams, Paul Merton and Gyles Brandreth. Nicholas Parsons also appeared in Doc…


Merton – Repetition of “in”

The crux of Just a Minute sounds simple on paper. Speak for a minute on a selected topic without deviation, repetition or hesitation. But as I have demonstrated above, stretching your vocabulary to avoid repeats is bloody difficult, as is avoiding uhms and errs, and if you think we can avoid diversions, you haven’t read many of these. Add in 4 pedantic comedians and you have a surprise comedy panel show smash hit. Parsons was brought in as host in 1967 for one or two episodes, and then never missed an episode until 2018.

Parsons was born in 1923 on the same day as Murray Walker, and had a spell working on Clydeside shipyards during WW2 as an engineer, before he moved to the stage, both in acting and as comedy partner to Arthur Haynes.  On TV, from 1971 to 1983, live from Norwich he was the host of surprisingly popular game-show Sale of the Century. A spot in pantomime with Roland Rat brought a role in Doctor Who as a doomed vicar in the excellent Curse of Fenric, in which he stunned the tabloids by being able to act. His underrated nature as straight man gave a boost to The Comic Strip Presents, when he appeared as an exaggerated version of himself in cult comedy Mr Jolly Lives Next Door. In which Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson, male escorts, mistakenly get the message from the mob for their hitman neighbour Peter Cook: take out Nicholas Parsons.

In 2012, Just a Minute moved to TV to celebrate its 45th anniversary, as the BBC bosses feared Nicholas wouldn’t be around for the 50th anniversary. He was still hosting! He also once took the Guinness record on longest after dinner speech off Gyles Brandreth, briefly, before Gyles won it back.

Be it game show, radio, comedy, serious drama, or his engaging BBC4 documentaries, Nicholas Parsons was that rare thing, a bonafide national treasure. News of his death demoted royal scandal to second place on Twitter. Even at venerable age, he’ll be much missed and you can’t say that about every DDP death.

But you can’t end on so saccharine a note on someone who made folk laugh. So two quick tales:

For Doctor Who, there was an outdoor costume van, and no dressing rooms, so Nicholas Parsons was standing outside the church for location filming, in vicars vestments, when a local woman walked up to him and said “Ah vicar, thank goodness I caught you, can I talk to you about a christening?” Well, that’s method acting for you…

Slightly deaf through his life (a symptom of the serious ill health which prevented a frontline WW2 spot), he was at the Edinburgh Fringe once, when a fellow comic started to talk up Richard Pryors recent misfortunes, including drug addiction and the whole setting fire to himself bit. Parsons listened with increased horror, before turning to Paul Merton and saying “Have you heard this about Richard Briers? He’s gone off the deep end!”

Nicholas Bloody Parsons (Mr Jolly reference) was picked by 17 teams, including veterans Lard Bazaar and Dave’s Dead Aye Dead Drunk.


Nicholas Parsons
10 October 1923 – 28 January 2020
17 teams