Nicholas Parsons MBE – Broadcaster, Actor and After-Dinner Speaker. Nicholas began his theatrical career as a Carroll Levis discovery doing impressions and working in small repertory theatres in Glasgow, whilst serving an engineering apprenticeship on Clydebank. When he became a full-time actor he obtained small parts in West End shows, then did two years in repertory at Bromley, Kent and later Windsor, Maidstone and Hayes.
Nicholas Parsons became very successful in cabaret in the Fifties and was a resident comedian at the Windmill Theatre in 1952. He worked a lot in West End revues, was part of BBC Drama Repertory Company, and in 1956 teamed up with Arthur Haynes, forming a successful comedy partnership that ran for 10 years on ITV and included a season at the London Palladium in 1963.
In 2011, Nicholas is teaming up with his ‘Just a Minute’ colleague Paul Merton for a BBC4 documentary on the life of 1950’s comedian Arthur Haynes – Me and Arthur Haynes. He appeared in many British comedy films in the Fifties and Sixties but returned to the West End stage in 1967 to star in Boeing-Boeing. He later starred in Say Who You Are and Uproar In The House. More recently he has appeared in the big West End musicals, Charlie Girl, Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods and The Rocky Horror Show.
Nicholas has been Chairman of Just A Minute since it was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1967. He regularly tours the country with his one man comedy show, which has also been performed in South Africa and on cruise ships.
He has presented three different one-man shows at the Edinburgh Festival and the latest, The Nicholas Parsons Happy Hour, has played to great acclaim on the Fringe. His successes on the small screen include regular appearances on The Benny Hill Show, hosting The All New Alphabet Game on LWT, Laughlines and, for a record 14 years, The Sale Of The Century on ITV. He featured in the comic strip show Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, which transferred to the cinema and has written, produced and directed five short films for the big screen.
Nicholas enjoys working with a number of charities. He has been actively involved with the Lord’s Taverners for over 45 years and was their President in 1998 and 1999. He also works for other children’s charities – the NSPCC, the Variety Club and Childline. He was Rector of the University of St Andrews from 1989 to 1992 and was honoured with a degree of Doctor of Laws for his work.
His autobiography The Straight Man – My Life In Comedy was published in 1994. His memoirs – Nicholas Parsons: With Just a Touch of Hesitation, Repetition and Deviation: My Life in Comedy were published in 2010.
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Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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