UK

Just A Minute presenter Nicholas Parsons misses first show in 50 years

Nicholas Parsons
Image caption Nicholas Parsons has presented more than 900 episodes of the 50-year-old radio comedy panel show

For the first time in 50 years, Radio 4 comedy panel show Just A Minute was not hosted by Nicholas Parsons.

The 94-year-old broadcaster, who has been at the helm of the programme for more than 900 episodes, was replaced by regular panellist Gyles Brandreth.

The unexpected absence led to a minor frenzy on Twitter, with one fan saying "hell had frozen over".

But the BBC's head of radio comedy explained that Parsons was "taking a couple of days off".

Julia McKenzie tweeted that Parsons is "totally fine" and the "apocalypse is not upon us".

The BBC said he will be recording an edition of 'Just a Minute' this Wednesday as usual and will be back on air in a couple of weeks.

Parsons began presenting the panel show in 1967, ensuring that players of the game speak on a subject for 60 seconds without hesitation, repetition or deviation.

When introducing the show, former MP Brandreth said: "After 50 years at the helm [he] quite rightly thinks he should be allowed a day off."

Panellists on the fourth episode of the 81st series were Tony Hawks, Sara Pascoe, Josie Lawrence and Paul Merton.

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Media captionNicholas Parsons celebrates a momentous moment in Paul Merton's Just a Minute career

In 2016 Merton reached a milestone by clocking up more appearances than Carry On actor Kenneth Williams, who appeared 346 times.

The late Clement Freud has the most appearances on the show as a panellist, after playing the game 544 times.

In 2016 Prince Charles, a fan of the show, performed a cameo on the programme's Christmas special.

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Media captionA fine debut from the Just a Minute newbie.

Although a simple concept, few players are able to speak for 60 seconds without breaking the rules, leading to interruptions from their fellow panellists.

In 2015 actor David Tennant made Just A Minute history when he spoke for the whole minute without being interrupted on his first appearance. He spoke on Shakespeare's stage direction, "Exit, Pursued by a Bear".

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