Paul Merton remembers Nicholas Parsons as ’embodiment of Just A Minute’

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent
·3-min read

Paul Merton has remembered Nicholas Parsons as  “one of the kindest and most generous people I ever met”, after his death at 96.

They worked together since 1989, when Merton made his debut on the radio panel show Just A Minute, which Parsons hosted since its inception.

He has gone on to become the second most featured panellist in the history of the show, behind Clement Freud, who died in 2009.

Merton said in a statement: “He was always upbeat, and loved to work.  He gave 100% to everything he did.

Paul Merton
Paul Merton (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“Nicholas was the embodiment of Just A Minute, and his chairmanship was always very fair and very honest.

“I will miss him greatly as a friend, particularly as I thought he would be around forever.”

Parsons’ daughter Suzy Parsons said the veteran broadcaster was “still ruling the roost” before he died after a short illness.

Parsons was with his family when he died on Tuesday, and the novelist told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: “He was as sharp as a tack, it was quite extraordinary.

“He was still ruling the roost, just a fantastic head of the family and we are all really struggling and missing him so much.

“But he was amazing, it was a short and incredibly peaceful ending.”

She added: “He was without doubt the best father ever. My father had two passions, they were family and work, in that order.

“We always knew, particularly my brother Justin and I, how prioritised we were.  He was an extraordinary example and role model.”

Asked what he would have been most proud of, she said: “I think he would be most proud of his family and his work.

“He was very proud of the fact he still had all his marbles and he was still working, and still wanted to work, and had new ideas and looked to the future with such positivity.”

Comedian Barry Cryer called Parsons “a sheer pleasure to work with,” telling World At One: “That brain never switched off, click click click.

Barry Cryer
Barry Cryer (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“He could interview you without notes, he knew exactly where to go and it never stopped.”

Asked how he would remember him, Cryer said: “Laughing, laughter is my memory of Nick.”

BBC Radio 4 will broadcast tributes to Parsons with a special Just A Minute at 6.30pm,  which includes highlights of great moments from different episodes.

The programme Nicholas Parsons In Conversation With Paul Merton will air at 11pm.

Both programmes were first aired to mark 50 years of Just A Minute.

Radio 4 will also air The Incredible Story Of Marie Antoinette’s Watch, presented by Parsons, at 8pm.