Nicholas Parsons

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“The most extraordinary person I've ever met was hanging from a parbuckle and looked like a cylindrical object. He swung backwards and forwards in the high wind, and, investigating the appearance carefully, it was none other than Nicholas Parsons, our chairman. 'About time,' people said.”
~ Clement Freud, 22nd May 1979
“Well I think everybody knows everything about Nicholas. I mean, there he is: he's got grey hair and he wears a blazer and a smart tie and he chairs Just a Minute and he appears in rude shows occasionally.”
~ Sheila Hancock, 1st January 2003
“Blind; paralytic; insensible; wears a wig; puts his teeth into a bucket by his bed… is 90, though he looks younger, but his son lent me his bus pass so I know.”
~ Clement Freud, 1st January 2003
~ Dreamytime Escorts

edit Character

“If you look at him carefully, you will notice a sort of void where charisma is concerned.”
~ Clement Freud, 13th January 1996
“I make a living out of being pompous! Why should I change?”
~ Nicholas Parsons, 22nd May 1979
“Perhaps the epitome of pomposity is Nicholas Parsons. He chairs this programme like he's got some idea what's going on. He runs the computer in his brain, which, to me, I think, is probably more of an abacus than a computer.”
~ Paul Merton, 19th February 1994
“You couldn't see fair play if it was written up for you.”
~ Kenneth Williams, 22nd May 1979
“Some people in this life really enjoy being sent up and Nicholas Parsons is one of them… because he's a sadomasochist.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 4th March 1980
“I was going to talk about Nicholas Parsons' ignorance, but 18 seconds would be a wholly insufficient time.”
~ Clement Freud, 17th March 1990
“Nicholas Parsons has been to me both gracious and kind, attentive and servile.”
~ Greg Proops, 3rd March 1998
“What a heavy load you carry round.”
~ Peter Jones on Nicholas Parsons's memory, 18th January 1997

edit Generosity

“One of the most generous people I know is Nicholas Parsons: he always buys a round.”
~ Paul Merton, 14th February 1998
“'Please accept my apologies but I have no money to send to you or your cause, but I do suggest that you write to a friend of mine who is both wealthy and philanthropically minded. His name is Nicholas Parsons.' And I give his address, and a stamp just to help it on its way.”
~ Peter Jones on how he replies to begging letters, 14th February 1998
“One of the great ball-givers in the United Kingdom is Nicholas Parsons.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 15th February 1999

edit Career

“He's a national institution.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 4th March 1980
“There is a habit amongst teenage girls to have 'I love Nicholas Parsons' tattooed on various parts of their body, because, of course, our esteemed chairman is currently wowing them in the West End with his soft-shoe shuffle, singing outside Harrods with a little hat, to collect coins from the grateful passers-by.”
~ Paul Merton, 12th March 1996
“Who would actually pay to witness Nicholas Parsons? I would not for one.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 12th March 1996

edit Youth

“Nicola Parsons was born 90 years ago. A quiet girl, she didn't bother the other kids too much in school. Later in life, she moved to Spain and became a cabaret artiste.”
~ Graham Norton, 1st January 2003
“Nicholas Parsons' time at the University of Glasgow seems to be absolutely shrouded in mystery.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 10th August 1998

edit Early career

“I remember years ago when Nicholas Parsons and I were bright young things. Flappers in the 1920s, down the Strand together, tossing our pearls over our shoulders, blowing kisses to passing Guardsmen, and they would say, 'They are bright young things,' and we were. It's so sad to see him now, in the first flush of his senility.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 1st March 1999
“In 1936 Nicholas Parsons wowed the West End crowds with his nude performance as Mary, Queen of Scots. They had seen nothing like it!”
~ Paul Merton, 29th January 1994
“During the performance that Paul was talking about, Nicholas Parsons was wearing both a codpiece and a banana.”
~ Arthur Smith, 29th January 1994
“During Nicholas Parsons's porno film career I was often called upon to press the flesh.”
~ Paul Merton, 18th January 1997
“Nominally Peter Sellers was the star; you stole it from under his nose.”
~ Linda Smith on Nicholas Parsons's appearance in Long Arm of the Law, 14th March 2003
“My first job was an apprentice to Nicholas Parsons who, before he rose to the dizzy heights you now see, majestic and bearing so much gravitas, was an artificial inseminator of pigs, a task which is rightly performed with great momentum in this part of the world. He and I would set off with a spring in our step, armed only with our marigold gloves and a washing-up bowl, and a copy of 'Crackling', a lewdly pronographic magazine, which showed pictures of Kevin Bacon, and Mia Farrow, in positions of enticing and exciting abandon. Now the thing about the porcine species is that the male genitalia is corkscrew-shaped, so I would hold the animal down while Nicholas would spin like a catherine wheel.”
~ Kit Hesketh-Harvey, 15th February 2001
“Apparently, he used to be in showbusiness. Look at him now and think, 'Surely, that's not believeable,' but yes, if you go back in the mists of time: Tommy Handley, It's That Man Again; he was That Man.”
~ Paul Merton, 1st January 2003
“Who can forget Nicholas Parsons as the Cheshire Cat?”
~ Paul Merton, 14th March 2005
John Travolta: His career was heralded in by Saturday Night Fever, and he only got the part because Nicholas Parsons wasn't available.”
~ Tony Hawks, 2nd August 1997

edit Sale of the Century

“What a ridiculous farrago it was throughout the 1970's…The befuddled quizmaster would sit in the middle as various greedy pensioners from around the British Isles would say, 'I'll have the kettle for five pounds, the Volkswagen for six, and I'll have Aberdeen for twenty-four.'”
~ Paul Merton, 1st September 2003

edit The Rocky Horror Show

“Which part of the title do you represent?”
~ Paul Merton, 12th March 1996
“Oh my goodness, Nicholas Parsons is himself an extravaganza. If you'd seen him there, in his high heels, and his fishnet stockings, it was the most wonderous sight of the whole thing. An audience every night was totally captivated by this elderly gentleman standing tall, flashing his knobbly knees.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 7th January 1995
“The Rocky Horror Show, where the characters cross-dressed, and had overt sexuality. Why they thought of having Nicholas Parsons in this show, I cannot fathom.”
~ Tony Hawks, 7th January 1995
“There is a production that tours round the country called the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and our chairman Nicholas Parsons was once desperate enough to appear in it, in a pair of fishnet stockings where he would parade around on stage in front of people who'd paid good money to see this, and he would regale them with what he liked to think was his whimsy.”
~ Paul Merton, 15th March 1999
“The smuttiest thing I've seen in the last 30 years is Nicholas Parsons in the Rocky Horror Show. It is a performance riddled with filth. He walks onto the stage and by his own confession roundly abuses the audience for turning up in the first place, and then performs a rather disgusting exotic cabaret with various selected vegetables. The finale of his act, if you can call it such a thing, is he inserts a marrow f…”
~ Paul Merton, 13th January 1996

edit Just a Minute

“Cheek is when someone of diminished responsibility goes to the British Broadcasting Corporation and elects to be chairman of a panel game, on the basis that he might have some idea of how to control people whose multisyllabic words he doesn't understand, whose meaning he is unable to comprehend, and whose hours and time he is unable to keep.”
~ Clement Freud, 18th April 1981
“I've always admired the way Nicholas Parsons controls this programme. I am an enormous fan of his. No, I'm sorry, that's bigger than a white lie, isn't it?”
~ Paul Merton on white lies, 20th July 1998
“You ought to resign!”
~ Derek Nimmo, 22nd May 1979
“If you weren't here, Nicholas, I don't know what we'd do. Train a budgerigar, perhaps?”
~ Paul Merton, 12th March 1996
“Nicholas Parsons deserves the lion's share of the credit for the enormous success of this brilliant programme.”
~ Tim Rice, 11th September 2006
“It'd be bloody good if he'd just shut up.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 22nd May 1979
“Making an effort is something one says to denote that a person is trying to do his best, from which sentiment I would like to disassociate the chairman of Just a Minute, who has quite tantamountly done very much less than that. I have seldom encountered a shoddier exponent of any panel game.”
~ Clement Freud, 18th April 1981
“It has been cruelly suggested that the chairman of this game is a joke. I personally don't subscribe to that theory because he is a very dashing, be-blazered chap, and far from a joke.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 16th January 1993
“I think he secretly tosses a coin in his pocket: he's doing something in there anyway… looks like heads from where I'm sitting.”
~ Paul Merton on arbitrary decisions, 18th January 1997
“Confusing the chairman in this game is not exactly a great challenge. No, the trick is to notice if you've done it. I don't know: possibly he's confused right now. Look at him, are his eyes glazing over; I'm not sure. His hair's not moving. The jacket remains burgundy, the tie — ooh my god, where did you get that? In 2050, it could be back in fashion. I think, sometimes he's not confused, he's other things, like asleep.”
~ Graham Norton, 1st January 2003
“Well, as we get older, it's much more difficult to be a chairman, and I feel rather sorry for Nick, having to cope with this complicated game at his grand old age. Inevitably, he's gonna get a bit befuddled with the rules. Often, he asks the audience, which is the most irritiating thing that he does when he's confused.”
~ Sheila Hancock, 1st January 2003
“It's not a difficult task: simple colour and movement usually does it. Come towards him quickly with a very striped shirt and he doesn't know where he is.”
~ Paul Merton on confusing the chairman, 1st January 2003
“And they strung up the chairman with a parbuckle.”
~ Clement Freud, 22nd May 1979
“The best chairman we've ever had.”
~ Paul Merton, 25th August 2003

edit Old Age

“You see, Nicholas has now reached the age that when a girl says, 'no,' he's profoundly grateful.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 7th January 1995
“Hard times is the future of Nicholas Parsons' career.”
~ Arthur Smith, 19th July 1997
“If it goes down well tonight he'll be here again in the year 2037, by which time he will be 124 and still have all his own teeth. He paid for them in 1956; he owns them; they're his.”
~ Paul Merton, 6th July 1998
“Poor old Nicholas Parsons. He went mad in the end, you know, married a goat and lived in Rygate for 15 years, never the same man again.”
~ Paul Merton, 1st January 2003

edit Appearance

“When I look over at Nicholas I suddenly think of the Jurassic Age. I don't know why that should be; maybe because there's an elegant gracefulness in the way that he moves, that reminds you of very big, dead reptiles.”
~ Paul Merton, 11th September 2006
“Nicholas Parsons is wearing a toupée made from the fur of a fox terrier.”
~ Paul Merton on the hair of the dog, 10th January 1998
“Nicholas sitting there with his lovely teeth: they must have cost a fortune.”
~ Julian Clary, 8th June 1998
“I have seen Nicholas Parsons bowling, and as he does so, he waves his eyes around quite independently in a very seductive sort of way, like a goldfish giving you the come-on. Those are googly eyes.”
~ Kit Hesketh-Harvey, 3rd August 1998
“The fact is, you have to look beyond the glasses, further than the grey hair; yes, it's all very well wearing a variety of pastel-shade jackets, but it's the heart that matters, and my personal soul was speared by an arrow from Cupid: the beauty that is our chairman.”
~ Tony Hawks, 16th February 1999

edit Clothes

“Is there a tie shape at the back of that jacket that you've just cut out?… Nicholas Parsons is wearing a combined deckchair, jacket, and tie.”
~ Paul Merton, 29th January 1994
“You can say that to me wearing that jacket? It looks like a bar-code.”
~ Paul Merton, 13th January 1996
“Somewhere there's a deckchair with a coat-shaped hole in it.”
~ Paul Merton, 15th March 1999
“Nicholas Parsons is wearing a magnificent blue jacket with a tie, the finest I have ever seen.”
~ Tony Hawks on flannel, 23rd August 1999
“As modelled by Anthony Eden.”
~ Paul Merton on NP's jacket, 15th March 1999

edit Relationships

“Ah, that smile beguiles me even now. One of my favourite mementoes is a lock of Nicholas Parsons' hair. We were young, yes, we were in love. It was a night in Leeds. I found him a sensitive lover, attentive to my needs, patient, a little prone to fainting, but never mind.”
~ Tony Slattery, 15th February 1999
“My Achilles heel is that I find Nicholas Parsons intensely sexually attractive. When I look over there at that blazer and that tie, his hair, the glasses; everything about him says take me. I go home at night, I see these visions of this erstwhile chairman coming towards me, the silvery glint in his eyes beckoning…”
~ Paul Merton, 5th March 1994
“I have a sugar daddy. He pays for everything: hotel suites, plane tickets, expensive meals, exotic holidays. His name is Nicholas Parsons. He is a marvellous individual to me… Fancy lingerie: there's nothing that he won't buy for me, and as the two of us lie on our Caribbean beach, looking into each others' eyes, I can swim for hours in that deep azure blue that you find just beside his pupil.”
~ Paul Merton, 7th February 1998
“They say opposites attract, which is possibly why I am very much attracted to Nicholas Parsons.”
~ Maria McErlane, 22nd June 1998
“I think Parsons has derived a tremendous amount of pleasure from his various wives. The first one, Denise, was a most wonderful, beauteous, shimmering creature who lived in Rose Cottage. Even his most recent wife is a fabulous woman too.”
~ Derek Nimmo, 24th January 1998

edit Reputation

“When I was a boy, my contemporaries chose James Dean as their rôle model, or Che Guevara, whereas I chose Nicholas Parsons, and I think that explains everything that's happened to me since. It certainly explains why… I'm appearing in the West End in a golden codpiece, black stockings, and a purple suspender belt”
~ Gyles Brandreth, 1st January 1993

edit Professional standing

“You know you've hit the big-time when you find yourself in a radio show sitting next to Nicholas Parsons. This man is truly a giant amongst men.”
~ Paul Merton, 29th January 1994
“Can I just say before I do this, what a great pleasure it is to do this show, with you, Nicholas, the consummate professional. I know what the other contestants were saying about you behind your back beforehand; I don't subscribe to that. I believe you are a wonderful broadcaster with great taste in clothes.”
~ Arthur Smith, 29th January 1994
“When I seek inspiration I need look no further than Nicholas Parsons.”
~ Kit Hesketh-Harvey, 3rd August 1998
“Gliterati consider themselves very lucky people if they spend the weekend at Nicholas Parsons' country retreat. This is where the gliterati from four corners of the globe gather every Saturday and they decide that they are going to worship the man…”
~ Paul Merton, 16th August 1999

edit Public image

“Just before I came into this room I heard two people talking about Nicholas Parsons; they didn't see me there but I was listening to what they were saying. And one said to the other, 'D'you know, he was condemned before the Second World War and actually still standing. It's really amazing.' The other person says, 'If you look closely he's wearing a bag, you can see it there.' He said, 'No, surely not;' he says, 'no, it's quite true, he does. And he's proud of it as well: if he gets drunk at parties he'll take it out and he's been known to pour it into the punch bowl.' Oh, he's a terrible individual, but it's interesting the way the British public have taken to Nicholas Parsons in the same way they used to take to typhoid.”
~ Paul Merton, 10th October 1998
“I often think of my best chat-up line, which is, 'I'm a close, personal friend of Nicholas Parsons.'”
~ Paul Merton, 23rd August 1999

edit Alcoholism

“You wear badges on which you put your favourite topic of conversation. For instance, with the aforementioned chairman, it would be alcoholism.”
~ Tony Slattery, 22nd March 1999
“It's gin: he can't get enough of the stuff. He drinks it by the bucket-load. If you go round Nicholas's house on a Friday you'll see a tanker delivering him this alcoholic refreshment straight through his letterbox. He's lying on the doormat with his mouth wide open; he's got a pipe going into his mouth. That's how he spends his weekend: he's completely sozzled all the time. Look at him, look at this downed alcoholic wreck that we see standing in front of us now, a sheer rambling wreck of a human being. He is part of the British way of life, and we know how bad that is these days. He is, I suppose, perhaps the last great man we have left in Great Britain who remembers the silent films.”
~ Paul Merton on Parsons's pleasure, 24th January 1998

edit Scandal

“I've known Nicholas Parsons for a fairly long time and his geniune pleasures are in rubber tubes, metal clips…”
~ Clement Freud, 24th January 1998
“I think he once went to bed with a swan as well, didn't you, on Just a Minute.”
~ Stephen Fry, 7th January 2002
“About five years ago I was asked by the Metropolitan Police to give Nicholas Parsons a character witness. Apparently he'd been arrested in the Ballspond Road at 3 o'clock in the morning with his trousers around his ankles shouting out at the windows above him, 'If you want it lady I'm ready and willing.' This incident was rather nasty and was reported in the local press at the time. I went along to the court and I stood there in front of the judge and I was called into the witness box and he said to me, 'Could you give me your appreciation of this man's character?' I said, 'I have known the individual in question for some ten years. I have always found him to be honest, upright, and one of the fin… oh,' I said, 'I can't keep it up, I really can't.'”
~ Paul Merton, 10th August 1998
“You can hear the siren coming towards me now because, Nicholas, I'm afraid, has been up to his old tricks again. He's been staring into old ladies' windows.”
~ Paul Merton, 11th September 2006
Police were called to Trafalgar Square late on Saturday night where the TV personality and radio host Nicholas Parsons was found attempting to climb the column. When he was arrested, he said, 'I wanted to see whether he was big or small.'”
~ Paul Merton, 1st January 2003
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