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Sale of the Century star Parsons dies aged 96

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Royal treat: Nicholas Parsons with Camilla Parker Bowles. Photo: John Phillips - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Royal treat: Nicholas Parsons with Camilla Parker Bowles. Photo: John Phillips - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Getty Images

Royal treat: Nicholas Parsons with Camilla Parker Bowles. Photo: John Phillips - WPA Pool/Getty Images

UK broadcasting giant Nicholas Parsons has died aged 96.

Parsons was with his family when he passed away yesterday morning after a short illness, his agent said.

The veteran host was best known for ITV quiz show Sale of the Century which ran from 1971 to 1983, and had a peak audience of 21.2 million in 1978.

He also fronted the BBC Radio 4 show 'Just a Minute', where panellists have to speak for one minute without hesitation, deviation or repetition.

He presented the radio show since its inception in 1967 and missed only two recordings of the programme.

His last episode aired on September 16, last year.

Stephen Fry was among the many stars paying tribute to the broadcaster.

"He ruled 'Just a Minute' for Just a Lifetime," Fry wrote on Twitter. "A stunning achievement - never scripted, always immaculate. From comedian's sidekick to great institution, via Sale of the Century and much more. Unrivalled continuity, professionalism and commitment. Farewell."

Chat show host Graham Norton said Parsons was "truly the kindest and most generous person I've ever worked with".

Writer and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth said it was "the end of an era", adding: "I thought he was immortal because he was always so alive. Such sadness today, but what a career to celebrate, from the 1940s to 2020. My hero!"

Radio 4 'Today' presenter Nick Robinson said: "Parsons was a broadcasting giant who proved that the straight man could be the real star of comedy."

Despite his glittering CV, Parsons once said he believed he would have got more work if he had been "more rugged-looking".

Irish Independent