TRUE story. Back in the early 1990s when I worked in a bookshop in Newcastle, Nicholas Parsons turned up to do a signing session one lunchtime. The problem was no one else did. Well, no one apart from a local reporter. “Just a minute, no one wants their book signed by Nicolas Parsons,” was the gist of what appeared in the paper the next day. (that’s probably not verbatim, but, to be fair, it was 25 years ago.)

The man himself was unruffled by the lack of demand for his signature on the day. I guess by then he was well used to the ebb and flow of a life in light entertainment.

Parsons, who died in January at the age of 96, was the subject of a night of tribute programmes on Radio 4 last Saturday. Before an evening of curated repeats – his Desert Island Discs from 2007, an inevitable Just a Minute repeat and Doon the Watta, a radio documentary recalling his experiences as an engineering apprentice on the River Clyde during the Second World War – the evening kicked off with a tribute show, Nicholas Parsons: A Man of Many Parts.

Basically, no one had a bad word to say about him. Presented by Paul Jackson, it charted Parsons’ showbiz life, from being straight man to Arthur Haynes to quizmaster on TV’s Sale of the Century (“And now from Norwich, it’s the quiz of the week …”) and on radio with Just a Minute, of course (he only missed four episodes in 52 years), as well as appearances with The Comic Strip and on stage in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and at the Edinburgh Fringe.

A career so long in fact that some of those lining up to pay tribute to him here – Bruce Forsyth and William G Stewart – had predeceased Parsons. No doubt that would have amused him.

Listen Out For: A Natural History of Ghosts, Radio 4, 1.45pm, Monday to Friday

In the run-up to Hallowe’en novelist Kirsty Logan explores ghost lore.