Nicholas Parsons

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Nicholas Parsons. Actor, quizmaster, cabaret performer, straight man, panel show host and fully-qualified marine mechanical engineer to boot; spanning more than 60 years his professional credits defy classification and flout convention. Yet it's not just the duration of his showbiz career that's exceptional but the fact that he made it on stage at all. From well-to-do parents, his family had a "neurotic dread of the dissolute thespian life" and did their utmost to thwart his budding ambition.

Sickly, dyslexic and with an intermittent stutter he wasn't an obvious star in the making, but as he himself puts it - "The joy of performing is that you overcome the insecurity of your nature and are reassured by the reaction of the audience". Nicholas Parsons reflects on his role as the comic straight man over the years, firstly for Arthur Haynes in the 1950s and 1960s, and then as the consummate host of the long-running radio quiz Just a Minute.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Children Will Listen by Barbra Streisand
Book: Oxford Anthology of English Poetry by John Wain
Luxury: Portable radio with an endless supply of batteries.

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 9 Nov 2007 09:00


Role Contributor
PresenterKirsty Young
Interviewed GuestNicholas Parsons

Featured in...

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs at 75 1920x1080

Featuring David Beckham, the funniest and most moving moments, animations and quizzes.

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

Why does Vaughan Williams’s masterpiece appeal to so many castaways?