Parsons misses Just A Minute programme

Nicholas ParsonsNicholas Parsons
Nicholas Parsons
Radio listeners questioned whether it was "the apocalypse" as Just A Minute was broadcast without its chair Nicholas Parsons for the first time in over 50 years.

The presenter, 94, has been on the BBC Radio 4 programme since its inception in 1967 but was absent from Monday night's instalment.

Gyles Brandreth filled in for him, prompting an outpouring of worried messages from fans on social media.

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The BBC's head of radio comedy Julia McKenzie was quick to assure listeners that Parsons was just enjoying a rare day off.

She tweeted: "Just to reassure those listening to the very unexpected Just a Minute on @BBCRadio4 at the moment - the apocalypse is not upon us - @GylesB1 kindly stepped in to give Nicholas Parsons a couple of days off.

"NP is totally fine and is still the guvnor as per the last 50 years."

However, plenty of people still wrote messages online saying that Just A Minute without Parsons felt like the end of the world.

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One said: "The latest sign of the impending apocalypse. Nicholas Parsons is not in the chair for #justaminute."

Another person posted: "Omg what happening. Nicholas Parsons isn't presenting #justaminute. End of days. @BBCRadio4."

"Somewhere, the captain of a nuclear submarine is trying to work out what it means when Nicholas Parsons isn't hosting #justaminute," said another.

One person suggested it was like "the ravens leaving the Tower of London".

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McKenzie responded to some of the comments, assuring fans: "He's totally fine - we thought we'd allow him a day off after 50 yrs!"

She replied to another message by saying: "Yes don't worry he is fine and well - just a day off!"

Another tweet read: "NP is totally fine just taken a couple of days off - he's a 50 year perfect attendance record so we thought that was probably ok."