Nicholas Parsons is one of the names which is completely synonymous with comedy in the UK. He is probably best known for chairing for long-running radio panel show Just A Minute, a show that in the UK is legendary. The series in which panelists have to speak for one minute on a given subject, avoiding hesitation, repetition and deviation has been a staple of Radio Four since the 1970s. As well as being known as a comedy straight man and as a presenter of both Just A Minute and for a slightly older vintage Sale Of The Century. Nicholas was also an actor who appeared in many diverse film and TV projects, including carry on films, Doctor Who And Gerry Anderson’s Four Feather Falls.

I recently re-read his autobiography and found it just as fascinating and interesting as I had first time round. He started his career, quite surprisingly in the Glasgow shipyards. He feels so different from the other comedian known for starting their career there – Billy Connolly.

The autobiography really does tell the story of his whole career starting in the 40s and 50s through to when he wrote it in the 2000s.

Quite a lot of the book does appear to be anecdotes about the famous people he has known and worked for and that suited me quite nicely. He also introduced me to people. I didn’t know that well like Arthur Haynes, who was the comedian that he got his big break working with. The book has anecdotes of everyone from Tony Hancock to Kenneth Williams, From Paul Merton to Daniel Sloss. It does sometimes feel like there is nobody in the comedic firmament that Nicholas Parsons hasn’t worked with, but with a career that spanned 70 years nearly, I feel like that’s acceptable.

Sadly, Nicholas is no longer with us but he was still doing Edinburgh Shows up until his mid-90s and I was lucky enough to meet him there in the 2000s, shows, and he didn’t disappoint.  If you’re interested in anecdotes about comedians and just a pleasant read, this is probably quite good for you. He’s quite careful to never really be that negative about people and if he does talk about bad behaviour he excuses people quite a lot. It’s not the most exciting biography, full of sex scandals and swearing and debauchery, but it’s a very nice and gentle read about a man who was in his own way, quite legendary and whose career touched on so many different people.

I enjoyed it, but I am a fan of Nicholas Parsons, so if you’re not you might find it a little dull, but if, like me, you’re a regular listener to Just A Minute or maybe you’re a Doctor Who fan who loved him in Curse of Fenric – one of the finest Doctor Who stories of that era where he did a really nice straight acting piece as the Reverend Wainwright, then you’ll probably find something interesting in this.

It’s probably not for everyone, but I’d imagine there’s a little bit of it for most people. So in tribute to the great man, I’m actually recording this last bit directly onto  my phone and I have timed the minute and I’m going to try and do my something up without hesitation deviation or too much repetition. I have a suspicion I wouldn’t pass the master amongst the classic players.

Nicholas Parsons was an entertainer with a long career that included many strands, and this book seems to be a nice document that showcases his many endeavours and there was much in it to enjoy but undoubtedly, it might not be for everyone. That being said, if you enjoy anecdotes about a plethora of stars, such as Kenneth Williams, Tony Hancock, Derek Nimmo, Clement Freud, Paul Merton, Peter Jones and so many others, as well as stories about how he very nearly made it huge so many times, but never quite did then this might well be for you I’d recommend it, but not to everyone, but I liked it!

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