Nicholas Parsons

Christopher Nicholas Parsons,CBE(born 10 October 1923) is an English radio and television presenter and actor . His long career in television, radio and theatre has made him a household name and he has been described as "the ultimate quiz show host" because of his "geniality, clarity of diction and the speed with which he rattled through questions".Best known today for his long-standing position as host of the comedy radio game showJust a Minute, Parsons is also famous as the long-term host ofSale of the Century, a show whose audience peaked at over 21 million viewers (a record for an ITV game show).

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 Nicholas Parsons's Early life

Parsons was born at 1 Castlegate, Grantham , Lincolnshire ; he was the middle child of the family, having an older brother and a younger sister. His father was a general practitioner , who delivered Margaret Thatcher . His mother, born in Bristol to a founder of local company W.B. Maggs & Co, was training as a nurse when she met Parsons' father at University College Hospital , London.

After education at Colet Court and St Paul's School in London, Parsons' initial career plan was to become an actor. However, his parents believed that a career in engineering would be better, as he had repaired grandfather clocks as a young man and was creative with his hands.

While there, he also spent two six-month periods studying engineering at the University of Glasgow .He never graduated, but finished his apprenticeship and gained sufficient qualifications to become a mechanical engineer. He was offered a position in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War , which he never took up due to illness.

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 Nicholas Parsons's Career in entertainment

He started his career while training as an engineering apprentice; he was discovered by Canadian impresario Carroll Levis , and appeared in his radio show. He also gained valuable early experience in amateur concert parties.

in 1947 and continued his stage career in West End theatre , with two years in repertory at Bromley , Kent , and later Windsor , Maidstone and Hayes , and played many supporting roles in British films of the 1950s and 1960s. In 1952, he became a resident comedian at the Windmill Theatre ,performing regular nights of stand-up comedy to packed houses. He starred in the West End showBoeing-Boeingfor 15 months and later, other West End productions throughout the 1970s

One of his first TV appearances was inThe Adventures of Robin Hoodwhere he played Sir Walter of the Glen, a knight in 'Trial by Battle'. Parsons became well known to TV audiences during the 1960s as the straight man to comedian Arthur Haynes . They had a successful season at the London Palladium in 1963 and appeared onThe Ed Sullivan Showin America in 1966. In the same year, the partnership broke up after ten years at Haynes's request, allowing Parsons to return to the stage, before becoming a regular onThe Benny Hill Showfrom 1969 to 1974. After Haynes' sudden death, Parsons appeared as a personality in his own right on television, including in the long-running Anglia Television quiz showSale of the Century, broadcast weekly from 1971 to 1984.

since it was first broadcast on 22 December 1967.The show continues to be transmitted and Parsons has been heard in every edition and has presented the show in six different decades. The programme's longevity is arguably due in part to the host's ability to be a chairman, create laughs and to act as a straight man to the comedians who participate.

He provided the non-singing voice of Tex Tucker in the children's TV puppet seriesFour Feather Fallsat the suggestion of his then wife, actress and voiceover artiste Denise Bryer, who was in the show. During the late 1960s he created and presented a satirical programme on Radio Four calledListen to This Space, which by the standards of its time was very avant garde, and he received the Radio Personality of the Year Award for his work on this programme in 1967. In the 1950s and '60s he appeared in many supporting roles in British films.

Also, in the late 1960s, he portrayed David Courtney in the short-lived American sitcomThe Ugliest Girl in Town.

He was the subject ofThis Is Your Lifein 1978 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews .

In 1988 he appeared as himself inThe Comic Strip Presentsepisode " Mr Jolly Lives Next Door ", in which he had the misfortune to encounter two incompetent escort agency directors ( Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson in their usual cheerfully violent, dipsomaniac personas) followed by the psychopathic and misnamed Mr Jolly himself (played by Peter Cook ).

In 1989 he featured in the long-running BBC science fiction television seriesDoctor Whoas the doomed Northumberland vicar Reverend Wainwright in the Seventh Doctor serialThe Curse of Fenric. Parsons later provided a commentary for the DVD release of the serial. Another guest role in 1989 was inThe New Statesman, where he played the host of a daytime quiz show. In 1990, he appeared as the Mayor in the BBC's series for childrenBodger & Badger. He also made 22 guest appearances inChuckle Brothers, a record for the series.

In the early 1990s, he hosted a short lived panel game called "Laughlines" which was broadcast by Sky TV rival BSB on the Galaxy entertainment channel , followed by an appearance in the final fourth series of the UK TV showCluedoas Reverend Green.

Parsons took the lead role of the narrator in the 1994 21st anniversary revival of the stage musicalThe Rocky Horror Showand repeated the role at the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End, further starring in the revival the following year. He then toured with the production intermittently from 1994-1996.

In April 2005 he was the guest presenter on the BBC comedy news showHave I Got News for Youand over the next decade guested on many other television shows as a speaker and an entertainer including as Father Gorman inMarple: The Pale HorseandCelebrity Mastermindin December 2007.Just a Minutetransferred to television in 2012 for a ten-part early-evening series to celebrate its 45th anniversary, with Parsons and regular panellist Paul Merton .

, which was published in 1984,and he produced a book of memoirs in 2010 calledNicholas Parsons: With Just a Touch of Hesitation, Repetition and Deviation.

For the past 12 years, he has appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival presenting his comedy chat show at the Cabaret Bar at the Pleasance . He provided voiceovers for the Android mobile gameMole Miner.

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 Nicholas Parsons's Awards and recognition

He was also awarded an honorary DA by the University of Lincoln in 2007.

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 Nicholas Parsons's Publications

  • Parsons, N., 1994.The Straight Man: My Life in Comedy, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 978-0297812395
  • Parsons, N., 2011.Nicholas Parsons: With Just a Touch of Hesitation, Repetition and Deviation: My Life in Comedy, Mainstream Publishing, ISBN 978-1845967123
  • Parsons, N., 2014.Welcome to Just a Minute!: A Celebration of Britain's Best-Loved Radio Comedy, Canongate Books, ISBN 978-1782112471

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 Nicholas Parsons's Selected filmography

  • Master of Bankdam(1947)
  • To Dorothy a Son(1954)
  • Simon and Laura(1955)
  • An Alligator Named Daisy(1955)
  • The Long Arm(1956)
  • Eyewitness(1956)
  • Brothers in Law(1957)
  • Happy Is the Bride(1958)
  • Carlton-Browne of the F.O.(1959)
  • Too Many Crooks(1959)
  • Upstairs and Downstairs(1959)
  • Let's Get Married(1960)
  • Doctor in Love(1960)
  • Carry On Regardless(1961)
  • Murder Ahoy!(1964)
  • Every Day's a Holiday(1965)
  • The Wrong Box(1966)
  • The Ghost Goes Gear(1966)
  • Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River(1968)
  • Spy Story(1976)

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 Nicholas Parsons's References

  1. "Edward Lear". Great Lives. 13 May 2008. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  2. Hardy, Frances (18 February 2013). "The human encyclopedia who's been on 28 TV quizzes". Daily Mail. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  3. The Daily Telegraph, 24 Sep 2013, page 11
  4. "Desert Island Discs with Nicholas Parsons". Desert Island Discs. 9 November 2007. BBC. Radio 4. 
  5. Parsons, N. (2010), With Just a Touch of Hesitation, Repetition and Deviation: My Life in Comedy, Mainstream Publishing, ISBN 978-1845967123
  6. "Drysdale & Co". Grace's Guide to British Industrial History. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  7. "Ed Doolan Interviews...". Ed Doolan Interviews. 25 October 2008. BBC. Radio 7. 
  8. "Nicholas Parsons". BBC. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  9. Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 353. ISBN 1-84854-195-3. 
  10. The Straight Man: My Life in Comedy (Weidenfeld & Nicholson). ISBN 978-0-297-81239-5
  11. "Nicholas Parsons on the Lib Dems". BBC News. 11 September 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  12. "Early Years". Nicholas Parsons Official Website. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  13. "Host Parsons' delight at honour". BBC News. 31 December 2003. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  14. "Early years continued". Nicholas Parsons (official website). Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  15. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60728. p. 9. 31 December 2013.
  16. "BBC News - New Year Honours: Ten famous faces". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  17. "Honorary graduates 1921–2012" (PDF). University of St Andrews. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  18. "Nicholas Parsons, OBE". Debretts. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  19. "Honoraries". University of Lincoln. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  20. Meeke, Kieran (27 October 2009). "Nicholas Parsons (profile)". Metro. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 

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