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

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”.

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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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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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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