LONDON >> British broadcaster Nicholas Parsons, who hosted the witty, wordy radio program “Just a Minute” for more than 50 years, has died at the age of 96.
Parson’s agent, Jean Diamond, said he died Tuesday morning after a short illness.
Parsons began his career as an actor and comedian, appearing on Arthur Haynes’ early 1960s TV show and “The Benny Hill Show,” and fronted TV quiz show “Sale of the Century” in the 1970s and 80s.
But he had his greatest success on BBC radio’s “Just a Minute,” first broadcast in 1967 and still going strong. The show challenges four contestants to speak on a specific subject for 60 seconds without “hesitation, repetition or deviation.”
It was a winning formula built from the quick wits of contestants — generally writers and comedians — and the warm, avuncular oversight of Parsons. The program gained fans around the world through broadcasts on the BBC World Service, and in 2012 recorded episodes in India, where it has a large following.
Parsons missed only two recordings in 52 years. His last episode was broadcast in September.
Broadcaster Piers Morgan said Parsons was a “wonderful man who brought so much fun, charm, wit and pleasure to so many millions of people over so many decades.” Talk-show host Graham Norton called him “truly the kindest and most generous person I’ve ever worked with.”
“His continued delight at being a part of show business should be an inspiration to us all,” Norton said.