Nicholas Parsons honoured at Broadcasting Press Guild Awards

Friday 15th March 2019, 2:28pm

Nicholas Parsons accepts the Harvey Lee Award at the BPG Awards 2019. Nicholas Parsons. Copyright: BPG / Virgin Media.

Nicholas Parsons has been honoured at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards.

The Just A Minute host received the Harvey Lee Award for his outstanding contribution to broadcasting.

Parsons has entertained audiences for more than 70 years, including hosting over 900 episodes Radio 4 panel show Just A Minute. The format, in which he asks panellists to talk for 60 seconds without "repetition, hesitation and deviation", is due to record its 84th series this April.

Parsons - who has never previously received any kind of lifetime achievement award - told the audience that his time working on the Clydebank shipyards as a youth were the experiences that shaped his career. "And being in show business for 75 years is all about getting a job and then hoping the phone will ring afterwards to give you the next one - that's the nature of being an actor."

He was at the BPG Awards with his wife Annie and children Justin and Suzie. There was a video tribute from Paul Merton and a career highlights clip reel including Nicholas's appearances on The Arthur Haynes Show in the 1960s.

Recalling his years presenting Sale Of The Century, Parsons told the story of how he posed an introductory £1 question to one set of contestants - 'What should you not do when living in a glass house?', and one of the players buzzed in with the answer 'Take a bath.'

BPG chairman Jake Kanter said: "Our Harvey Lee Award winner is being recognised for seven decades of TV and radio entertainment, and in particular his contribution to one of the BBC's longest-running programmes.

"Panellists have come and gone, the gamesmanship and gags have evolved, but Nicholas Parsons remains in the hot seat at the centre of it all.

"His warmth, sharp wit and clear-headed determinations in rooms full of fast-talking show offs have kept him at the top of his game."

The winners of the BPG Awards are chosen solely by UK critics specialising in TV and radio. The results of the 45th annual BPG Awards were announced at a ceremony at Banking Hall in London today (15th March).

The other comedy-related winners were:

Best Comedy

Derry Girls win at the BPG Awards 2019. Image shows from L to R: Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Liz Lewin, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Dylan Llewellyn, Siobhán McSweeney, Lisa McGee. Copyright: BPG / Virgin Media.

Derry Girls

The popular sitcom, which is currently broadcasting its second series on Channel 4, triumphed in a shortlist which also featured Car Share, Inside No. 9 and Women On The Verge.

Derry Girls writer and creator Lisa McGee thanked the BPG for the the Best Comedy Award while the cast enjoyed a raucous afternoon. Nicola Coughlan - who plays Clare in the show - tweeted later that she was "suitably hungover" after their post-awards celebrations.

Best Entertainment

Bob Mortimer picks up the Best Entertainment prize at the BPG Awards 2019. Bob Mortimer. Copyright: BPG / Virgin Media.

Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing

Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer's gentle riverbank-set comedy was picked by judges out of a list which also featured Cruising With Jane McDonald, Michael McIntyre's Big Show, Strictly Come Dancing and Taskmaster.

Mortimer attended the BPG Awards luncheon without his Gone Fishing partner. Whitehouse was unable to attend due to illness.

Best Podcast

Romesh Ranganathan.

Hip Hop Saved My Life - Romesh Ranganathan

Romesh Ranganathan's podcast was picked out in this category.


Elsewhere in the awards, Killing Eve, adapted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, triumphed ahead of Black Mirror, People Just Do Nothing and This Country in the 'Best Online First / Streaming' category; the BBC show also won Best Drama and its star Jodie Comer won Best Actress. Meanwhile the drama Patrick Melrose was picked ahead of Taskmaster, Al Murray's Why Does Everyone Hate The English? and Women On The Verge in the 'Best of Multichannel' section. A Very English Scandal won Best Single Drama, with star Hugh Grant winning Best Actor.

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