BBC Broadcasting legend Nicholas Parsons dies aged 96 after short illness

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 Broadcaster, 96, Nicholas Parsons was today praised as a ‘broadcasting legend’ and ‘an icon in the world of British comedy’ following his death. Parsons was surrounded by his family after a short illness.

The host of the Just a Minute,  made an extraordinary contribution to film, TV and radio over a 74-year career which saw him host the BBC Radio 4 programme since its inception in 1967 and the long-running ITV game show Sale Of The Century.

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The broadcaster, who had been married to his second wife Ann since 1995 and received a CBE in 2014 for services to charity, become a television regular on The Benny Hill Show following his acting debut in 1946.

Fellow BBC presenters lined up to pay tribute, with Graham Norton saying his death was ‘the sound of the final whistle’, referring to the end of a round on Just A Minute, and Nick Robinson calling him a ‘broadcasting giant’.

Parsons, who was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, was best known for the long-running Radio 4 show where panellists have to speak for 60 seconds without hesitation, deviation or repetition.

Parsons with hostesses (from left) Caro Greenwood, Sophie Batchelor, Laura Beaumont, Christine Owen and Eunice Derry in the long-running ITV game show Sale Of The Century in June 1978

Today, his agent Jean Diamond said: ‘Nicholas passed away in the early hours of January 28 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.’

Among those paying tribute was BBC Director-General Tony Hall, who said: ‘Very few people have done so much to entertain audiences over the decades, and no one deserves to be called a broadcasting legend more than Nicholas Parsons.

Nicholas Parsons had been married to his second wife, Ann

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