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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 10:12 GMT
Host Parsons' delight at honour
Nicholas Parsons
Parsons said he was "flattered" to hear of his OBE
Entertainer Nicholas Parsons has said he was "delighted, flattered and overwhelmed" to be appointed an OBE in the New Years Honours.

Parsons is best known for his work on two completely different quiz shows - radio's Just A Minute and TV's Sale of the Century.

The 75-year-old said: "About three weeks ago I got one of those brown envelopes through the door and thought it was from the Inland Revenue - but it came from 10 Downing Street.

"You work hard all your life and to have that recognition is just a delight."

In a reference to the rules of his BBC Radio 4 show Just A Minute, he added: "I accepted it without hesitation or deviation or anything like that."

And he told BBC One's Breakfast programme: "I think it's a lovely idea. If you have achieved something and you wish to be recognised by your country, because you have given some good service... It's part of the tradition of our country.

"One or two people have been knocking it recently - I don't understand what statement they are actually making."

Born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, in 1928, Parsons began his acting life doing impressions in a small Glasgow theatre.

Having decided to pursue acting as a full-time career, he swapped an engineering apprenticeship on Clydebank for a two-year apprenticeship in repertory theatre in the south London suburb of Bromley.

He soon made a living in cabaret and stand-up comedy, honing his skills at legendary London venues Quaglino's, The Allegro, Cafe de Paris and the Windmill Theatre.

Nicholas Parsons on Just A Minute
Parsons prepares to start the clock on Just A Minute in 1969
In 1956 Parsons formed a comedy partnership with Arthur Haynes, their show being screened for a decade on ITV.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Parsons appeared in numerous British TV and film comedies, but returned to the stage in 1967 with the play Boeing-Boeing.

In that year he also became host of Radio 4's Just A Minute, which invites guests to talk on a random subject for 60 seconds "without repetition, deviation or hesitation".

Parsons' calm and collected manner proved to be the perfect foil to the frenetic ramblings of his guests, and the show celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2002.

He also fronted ITV's Sale Of The Century throughout the 1970s, the show made famous by its opening announcement: "And now, from Norwich... it's the quiz of the week!"

His sharp wit and sense of fun has earned Parsons a wide following, and after Sale of The Century ended in 1984 he made appearances alongside alternative comedians in Channel 4's The Comic Strip.

More recently he performed in West End musicals The Rocky Horror Show and Charlie Girl, and triumphed at the Edinburgh Festival with several shows, the last one being The Nicholas Parsons Happy Hour.

Planning to take the show back to Edinburgh for a fifth year next summer, the septuagenarian shows no signs of slowing down.


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