Veteran presenter Nicholas Parsons has stunned the world of broadcasting by refusing to give up the chairman’s role on the popular Radio 4 panel show ‘Just a Minute’, despite calls on all sides for him to step down for health reasons after he missed his first show in fifty years.
Parsons dropped the bombshell at a press conference in Broadcasting House, where he was widely expected to announce his retirement. The assembled show production staff, regular panellists and press alike were left open-mouthed when the 94-year old-said: ‘You know I have really enjoyed my fifty years in the chair of Just a Minute, following on from my earlier success in Sale of the Century – oh stop it – and I’d just like to confirm I intend to go on for another fifty…’
He was cut short at this point when Paul Merton ‘buzzed in’ and challenged for ‘repetition of fifty’ which got a huge laugh around the room. However the good-natured banter quickly turned to incredulity as Parson’s ignored the challenge and ploughed on with an incoherent and rambling address which ended in confusion and without any resignation announcement.
Media analyst Noel Armstrong commented: ‘We’re in uncharted waters here and it could end up in widespread civil disobedience if it’s not handled properly. The closest we’ve come to anything similar is when Brucie was doing Strictly, but luckily he saw sense and stepped down when still at the top of his game. Then again – Gyles Brandreth. Gyles bleedin’ Brandreth. Is that what you want? Because that’s what will happen? Yes I know that was a repetition of ‘what’ and a recycling of an old Harry Enfield character, I was being sardonic, honestly.’
As the press conference ended Parsons refused to take any questions from the floor but his agent said: ‘Nicholas has reached his decision without hesitation, there will be no repetition of his statement or any deviation from is intention to carry on.’