TRIBUTES have been paid to actor and broadcaster Nicholas Parsons who died today.

The Just a Minute host and “broadcasting giant” passed away after a short illness, his agent said.

Actress Barbara Whatley, of Rottingdean, told how her friend Nick had tried to make her laugh on stage.

Barbara appeared on stage for the first time alongside the veteran actor.

Yesterday she paid tribute to a “great big daddy who looked after us all.”

Barbara, 78, said that Nicholas was always trying to make the other actors giggle without the audience knowing.

She said that while appearing together in Uproar in the House “In the play he had to hand me an empty cup and I poured coffee in it”.

“One time he handed me the cup and he had written a really rude word at the bottom,” she added.

“It was the rudest word you can imagine, I can’t even say it and you certainly couldn’t publish it.

“He really cracked me up with that one.”

Nicholas and Barbara remained firm friends and she said she was devastated to hear the news of his death.

His agent Jean Diamond said on behalf of his family, said: “Nicholas passed away in the early hours of January 28 after a short illness at the age of 96.

“He was with his beloved family who will miss him enormously and who wish to thank the wonderful staff at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital.”

Parsons had hosted Radio 4’s Just A Minute since its inception in 1967.

He appeared on stage many times in Sussex. In 2007 he described Brighton’s Theatre Royal as his favourite stage, when he celebrated the theatre’s 200th anniversary.

He told The Argus at the time: “”It is impossible to say when you are in a theatre like this how much it means to you and how much you enjoy it and the nostalgia that floods back.

“I must have acted at this theatre about 15 or 16 times and there is nothing like walking back into it. “This is one of the theatres I consider to be home.

“I’ve had more interesting experiences here than anywhere else. “This theatre is not only special to Brighton, it is very special to me.”

In 2011 he appeared in a version of Alan Bennett’s A Visit From Miss Prothero at the Upstairs at Three in Ten Theatre - described by an Argus reviewer as “the best of Parsons as a respected comic actor.”

In 2004 Nicholas, a good friend of Pietro Addis, attended the retirement party for the original owner of Donatello restaurant alongside then Prime Minister Tony Blair.