Paul Merton

Paul Merton

Date of birth: 17-01-1957
© Steve Ullathorne

Paul Merton: I wouldn't host Just A Minute

Comic rules out replacing Nicholas Parsons

Paul Merton says he has no interest in taking over as chairman of Just A Minute when Nicholas Parsons steps aside.

The comic has been a contestant in more programmes in the show’s history than anybody else apart from Clement Freud. But his 373 appearances pale in comparison to the 893 episodes chaired by the indefatigable Parsons, who is 93, since the Radio 4 show began..

When asked about the prospect of him eventually taking over Parsons’ role, Merton said: ‘No don’t think so. Then you’d be losing me as a contestant.’

And he praised Parsons as being perfect for the role. ‘He’s brilliant casting for that. It’s important to have a chairman saying "you can’t get away with that that".’

And speaking on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre podcast, the Have I Got News For You captain thought that Parsons was ‘invincible’.

Merton revealed that he was once asked to pre-record a tribute for Parsons’s obituary, but refused. He added: ‘That was 12 years ago. The person that asked me left the BBC five years ago… He’s clearly invincible.’

He also joked that Parsons ‘is one of the few entertainers working today who is mentioned in the Bible. Last Supper, he was doing the cabaret.’

That was clearly a joke, but Merton also pointed out that the Harold Lloyd film Safety Last, when the silent film great hung precariously from the clock on the front of a building, was released in the same year Parsons was born, 1923.

The pair recalled Parsons’ ‘show must go on’ spirit by describing how he chaired two back-to-back episodes of Just A Minute  that they were both on despite falling badly over a speaker as he took to the stage.

Merton explained: ‘Nicholas being Nicholas, the reason that he did fall over the speaker was he was hamming it up by looking at the audience as he came on and not seeing where he was going.

Here’s the interview:

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Published: 15 Jun 2017

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