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Nicholas Parsons




Nicholas Parsons




Nicholas Parsons


Early Years

NICHOLAS PARSONS: THE EARLY YEARS
After distinguishing himself at St Paul's School both in Latin, Greek and rugby, he tried to become an engineer to please his family. He always wanted to act, but found himself beginning an apprenticeship for a firm that made pumps and turbines, where his first pay packet for a 48-hour week was 49p! He started doing impersonations, joined an amateur concert party, survived the rigours of Clydebank where he endeared himself to his workmates by taking off his various foremen. He also went to Glasgow University where he excelled at rugger and even played in an East v West Scottish trial game.

His first professional engagement, whilst still an engineering apprentice, was as a Carroll Levis discovery on his radio shows, doing impersonations.

He served his acting apprenticeship in Repertory at Bromley in Kent. After two years playing a different part in a different play each week, he proved that comedy and character roles were his particular strength. Failing to obtain work in the West End, he moved to the legendary London cabaret circuit in the 1950s. He starred at Quaglino's, The Allegro, The Colony, the famous Cafe de Paris, and many other venues.

In 1952 he became resident comedian at the famous Windmill Theatre for six months, which was followed by a lot of radio variety. Even now, he is still doing a lot of solo work, after-dinners, one man shows, and more recently his show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - solo comedy and guests - now in its fifteenth year.

PARSONS & POLITICS
Nicholas Parson's father was a doctor in a country practice in Grantham. Among his patients were the Roberts family which included young Margaret - who became Margaret Thatcher. Nicholas went to the same school as her, Grantham and Kesteven High School for Girls - in the kindergarten they took boys! He moved to London with his family when he was eight years old.

In 1976, Nicholas was asked to stand as Liberal Party candidate for the Yeovil constituency. He refused with regret, and some newcomer called Paddy Ashdown was adopted and won the seat. Nicholas preferred to concentrate on his chosen profession.

After a hard-fought, student-run campaign in 1988, he was elected to the prestigious position of Rector of St Andrews University, thrashing a popular politician named Glenda Jackson. At the end of his three year term of office he was honoured with a Doctor of Laws (LL.D.). You can address him as Doctor Parsons if you wish, especially as he has since received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree (D.A.) from Lincoln University in 2007.

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