Theatre News

Nicholas Parsons has died aged 96

The entertainer and personality has passed away following a short illness

Nicholas Parsons
Nicholas Parsons
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Entertainer and radio host Nicholas Parsons has died aged 96, it has been announced.

Parsons, known for hosting Radio 4's flagship show Just A Minute from 1967, has appeared in a variety of stage productions across his life. He became a professional actor at the end of the Second World War and made his stage debut in The Hasty Heart in the West End in 1945.

Other West End credits include Boeing-Boeing, which he performed in the mid-1960s, as well as the original London cast of Sondheim's Into the Woods. He appeared as the Narrator in the 1994 production of The Rocky Horror Show at the Duke of York's Theatre, and toured with the show over the following years.

Across his life Parsons was hailed as one of the UK comedy greats, working alongside the likes of Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, Peter Cook and Arthur Haynes.

He currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest after-dinner speech (11 hours).

Pleasance Theatre's (where Parsons performed for a number of years) Anthony Alderson said in a statement: "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Nicholas Parsons and are thinking of his family at this time. One man couldn't be more loved or considered more of a Fringe institution. His generosity and kindness epitomised the very spirit of both Pleasance and the Fringe. A national treasure, Nicholas was beloved by Fringe audiences and gathered a huge admiring audience for his show Happy Hour since 2001.

"Sat in the Pleasance Cabaret Bar, for nearly two decades he amiably chatted with guests, joked about his career in entertainment and, of course, gave out smarties. It's been a huge honour to be able to have worked with him and have him as part of our Pleasance family. He will be very much missed."