My haven: Nicholas Parsons the Just A Minute presenter, 89, relaxes in the sitting room of his Buckinghamshire home
22:32 GMT, 16 November 2012
Nicholas Parsons 'Haven' is the living room of his Buckinghamshire home
My mother made a needlework copy of the family crest and had it mounted on this fire screen. The crest dates back to our Scottish ancestry – though no one’s ever explored it in any detail. Lord knows if I have any blue blood in my veins, but if I do it’s more likely to be Scottish than English as my father’s ancestors were landed gentry in Dumfries – it was his mother who came south. I should go to the College of Heraldry and have it checked out.
Everyone assumes this is a beautiful antique Queen Anne chest of drawers, and it certainly looks like it. What they don’t realise is there’s a television hidden away inside. The chest was one of the prizes we gave away when I presented Sale Of The Century back in the 70s, and I was so impressed I went to the factory and bought one. I’ve always thought TVs to be the most ugly things, so it’s wonderful to be able to hide it away.
I’ve picked up a few awards over the years, but the one I’m most proud of is this Variety Club Radio Personality award I was given in 1966 for the ground-breaking satire show Listen To This Space. Radio was rather overshadowed by TV for a long time, but although television is still where the money is there’s been a recent resurgence in radio, and shows like Just A Minute – which I’ve hosted for 45 years – just go on and on.
I’m a big cricket buff. I’ve followed it avidly since I was a boy and been a member of cricket charity the Lord’s Taverners for many years. I was even president for a couple of them. I collect cricket memorabilia, and the Taverners kindly gave me this framed bat years ago as a thank you for all I’ve done for them. It’s unique as it’s signed by so many cricketing greats, from Colin Cowdrey to Denis Compton, which makes it priceless to my mind.
I put this pretty antique French ormolu clock together when I was 15. My father, who was a doctor, had a patient who used to repair clocks, and when he died his widow gave this one to me. It was in pieces and didn’t work, but I’ve always been good with my hands so my father had someone come and show me how to re-assemble it, and it’s told the time perfectly ever since. It’s my pride and joy.
Sale Of The Century was so successful everyone forgot I was first and foremost an actor, and
working with the late Arthur Haynes was the highlight of my career. We did an early TV show called Strike A New Note, which slowly evolved into The Arthur Haynes Show in 1957 – I was the ‘straight man’ and Arthur got all the gags. We worked together for ten years, played the London Palladium and even went to America.