Eulogy to last one minute, without hesitation, repetition or deviation
January 28, 2020 3:54 AM   Subscribe

Thanks for posting. One of the last of the generation who came up through weekly rep. Should probably be tagged nationaltreasure.

Some more links to interviews and articles about him: Glasgow Times; Telegraph; Norwich Evening News; Independent.
posted by paduasoy at 4:20 AM on January 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh man, end of an era indeed.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:26 AM on January 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

As The Minute Waltz fades away...


Off to the great 6:30pm broadcast in the sky with Humph.
posted by MattWPBS at 4:36 AM on January 28, 2020 [9 favorites]

The minute waltz has faded away...

posted by inire at 4:37 AM on January 28, 2020

Another living history of British light entertainment gone. Only Barry Cryer left now really. RIP.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:54 AM on January 28, 2020

posted by Flashman at 5:00 AM on January 28, 2020

The Guardian's Life In Pictures.

Nicholas Parsons started as a jobbing actor in 1950s comedy, moved over to host possibly the cheesiest of the cheesy 70s game shows (Sale of the Century, where the grand prize always seemed to be a yacht of some kind) and from there ascended to National Treasuredom via the sheer unkillability of Just A Minute, which is, on the one hand, a light entertainment panel show and on the other a vicious sporting competition, red in tooth and claw (or at least it was when Kenneth Williams and Clement Freud were playing, and I think it has its moments to this day). He was able to hold the show together simply because he was very, very nice. Niceness goes a long way, especially when blended with firmness.

I was playing guitar in a show on the Edinburgh Fringe twenty years ago, and we did a promo spot at a show he was hosting (which was essentially Mervyn Stutter's show with the serial numbers filed off, in the same venue and everything, but at a slightly later time - I said Mr Parsons was nice, I said nothing about his promoter). I was off to the side, so I didn't meet him, but he exuded that combination of professionalism that you'd expect from an LE stalwart of his vintage, with an engaging relaxedness that meant you didn't notice the craft. A quality that I respect a lot.
posted by Grangousier at 5:34 AM on January 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


I didn't know he learned his craft in my home town. Glasgow crowds were notoriously harsh, and Parsons must've been very quick-witted to survive them.
posted by scruss at 5:37 AM on January 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


Nice interview with him by Richard Herring last year
posted by crocomancer at 6:17 AM on January 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I saw him play the Criminologist in the Rocky Horror Show in London in the '90s.

posted by Faint of Butt at 6:30 AM on January 28, 2020

One of those rare people about whom nobody had a bad word to say. He was the face of Saturday tea-time TV for me, with Sale of the Century.
posted by essexjan at 6:38 AM on January 28, 2020

I happened onto a Canadian broadcast of Just a Minute at around age 10 and became a fanatically devoted listener immediately. The unending fountain of erudition was absolutely spellbinding. Along with My Word, it was foundational to my love of my language. RIP Nicholas
posted by sensate at 7:20 AM on January 28, 2020

(lasting one minute, of course. I shall miss him greatly.)
posted by kalimac at 7:32 AM on January 28, 2020

Growing up in Australia I knew him only from The Goodies, where he was a regular target of jokes - affectionate ones, I realised in hindsight. After moving to the UK I soon grew to love listening to him on Just a Minute, and am glad I was able to do so for almost two decades; how extraordinary that that was less than half of his reign on the show. What a terribly nice man he seemed to be.

Here's a delightful snippet from the Wikipedia entry on Just a Minute:

The chairman was originally intended to be Jimmy Edwards but he was unavailable on Sundays, the proposed recording dates, and was replaced by Nicholas Parsons who was originally supposed to be a panel member. Parsons did not want the job and only reluctantly took it, just for the pilot episode.
posted by rory at 8:14 AM on January 28, 2020

Reading that page about the Goodies' treatment of Parsons makes me reflect on it a little more; they were clearly having a go at a side of him that came across as smarmy and patronising. But listening to Parsons on Radio 4 in his seventies, eighties and nineties, he didn't really come across like that. Age may have mellowed him; or perhaps what appears patronising from a younger man seems harmless in an older one.

They can't have had too much of a problem with him, though. Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden both appeared as guests on Just a Minute.
posted by rory at 8:27 AM on January 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

posted by HypotheticalWoman at 8:40 AM on January 28, 2020

As Nicholas Parsons fades away, it's time to say goodbye not just from the audience in this country but from listeners around the world. I'm afraid it was a valid interruption but the audience enjoyed you very much so, Nicholas, you get a deserved point.
posted by popcassady at 10:41 AM on January 28, 2020 [7 favorites]

Radio 4 repeated this in the 18:30 slot in tribute.

Just a Minute: 50 Years in 28 Minutes

This special edition of Just a Minute was recorded to celebrate the programme's 50th anniversary in 2017, featuring regular panellists from across the decades, and celebrating the outstanding contribution of the show's host, the inimitable Nicholas Parsons.
posted by MattWPBS at 1:24 PM on January 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh, man. I am sorry to hear this. My education in BBC light entertainment programming began when I first learned about QI back about season C or thereabouts and has gradually increased to the point where I know when the new WILTY hits YouTube and the BBC Radio app sees the just about the heaviest use in my phone. Just A Minute was something I first heard a few years back and like all the great games, it has always had a sort of austere delight to it: there is nothing there but a dozen cards with subject prompts, a stopwatch, and a whistle. Just add creative minds.

Sad to see him go.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2020

Nicholas Bloody Parsons!!!!
posted by humuhumu at 2:58 PM on January 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Before the game shows and quizzes, Nicholas Parsons the wonderful straightman to comedian Arthur Haynes.
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:27 PM on January 28, 2020


He was also an aficionado of horology, and did nice doco on the history of the Breguet masterpiece, the Marie Antoinette watch.
posted by Pouteria at 9:02 PM on January 28, 2020

posted by droplet at 9:45 PM on January 28, 2020

Ah man. I can't say I was a huge fan of Just A Minute (for me it was also slightly tinged with disappointment as it meant that I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue wasn't on), but yeah - I've been catching him on the radio all my life, and it was remarkable how sharp he was, right until the end.

He also had one of my favourite guest appearances in possibly the best ever episode of Doctor Who:
posted by Hartster at 5:28 AM on January 29, 2020

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