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Nicholas Parsons takes Saga Magazine's Grown-up Test

Paula Kerr / 23 July 2013 ( 28 January 2020 )

One from the archives: Does actor and entertainer and Just a Minute legend Nicholas Parsons, born October 1923, act his age?

Nicolas Parsons

If you could win any quiz show prize?

Good health, long life and an Aston Martin.

Ever regretted hesitating?

I hesitated about becoming an entertainer and worked as an engineer on Clydebank.

Who makes you laugh?

Paul Merton – a very clever chap; Brendan O’Carroll, hilarious in Mrs Brown’s Boys.

Any unfulfilled dreams?

To direct plays in the theatre.

Tell us something that would surprise us.

I can take a grandfather clock apart and put it back together again.

First car?

A bullet-nosed Morris Minor. I paid £156. I’d saved up all my money from a job as an understudy.

Temptation you can’t resist?

Unsalted nuts.

Single thing that would make getting older easier?

Muscular aches mean I move around more slowly than I’d like. I wish they’d go away.

Plane or ship?

I hate airports and I enjoy cruising. It’s so gentle. I’ve always loved the sea. I tried to join the Merchant Navy, but I had a lung complaint and didn’t pass the medical.

Last public protest?

I accept and get on with things.

Decade you’re most nostalgic for?

The Sixties: not because of drugs and rock’n’roll, but more because it was an age of acceptance of your fellow man. It was very liberating.

Longest friendship?

With John, who’s an admiral in the Royal Navy. It’s unusual to have a friend of my age who’s still around.

Favourite song?

Glen Miller’s In the Mood. It reminds me of my time as an unhappy engineer. It lifted me.


I have to, or I’d fall over. Every morning I go through a sequence of stretching exercises. I force myself before breakfast

What makes you grumpy?

I can’t stand traffic jams.

Greatest regret?

I wish I’d learnt to play the piano well.

Lessons your parents taught you?

Self-discipline. They were hard taskmasters. They sometimes frustrated me.

First kiss?

In Glasgow, with the very attractive Sheila. I was 17. She joined the Wrens and I never saw her again after that.

Your preferred epitaph?

He kept striving.


From your agile brain and young voice, you could be taken for a man in his forties. But that would be denying your life experience. So without hesitation, deviation or repetition, we put you at a youthful 71.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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