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Nicholas Parsons, host of BBC’s ‘Just a Minute,’ dies at 96

LONDON — British broadcaster Nicholas Parsons, who hosted the witty, wordy radio program “Just a Minute” for more than 50 years, died Tuesday after a short illness. He was 96.

Mr. Parsons began his career as an actor and comedian, appearing on Arthur Haynes’ early 1960s TV show and “The Benny Hill Show,” and he 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 Mr. Parsons. The program gained fans around the world through broadcasts on the BBC World Service.

Mr. Parsons missed only two recordings in 52 years. His last episode was broadcast in September.

Broadcaster Piers Morgan said Mr. Parsons was a ‘‘wonderful man who brought so much fun, charm, wit, and pleasure to so many millions of people over so many decades.”