The BBC’s head of radio comedy, Julia McKenzie, however, quelled fears at the time with a tweet saying that Parsons had simply taken “a couple of days off”.
“Just to reassure those listening to the very unexpected Just a Minute on @BBCRadio4 at the moment – the apocalypse is not upon us,” she wrote. “@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.”
But now Parsons has revealed the real reason he was absent from the show, and labelled the BBC statement “ridiculous”.
“I had flu,” the 94-year-old broadcaster told the Today programme. “They wanted to say for some reason – the BBC gave out – that I had taken a couple of days off, which is ridiculous. In our profession you don’t take days off. You are terrified someone is going to take the job from you.”
Fans will be pleased to hear that Parsons has now declared himself “completely recovered” and is back in the host’s chair after only a minor spell of deviation from the show’s winning formula.