Just a Minute
Frequent guests (at least 20 appearances):
Sheila Hancock (1967-present)
Andree Melly (1968-76)
Aimi Macdonald (1968-83)
Barry Cryer (1974-2001)
Tim Rice (1980-2009)
Gyles Brandreth (1982-present)
Wendy Richard (1988-2003)
Tony Hawks (1992-present)
Stephen Fry (1992-present)
Tony Slattery (1993-9)
Graham Norton (1994-present)
Jenny Eclair (1994-present)
Kit Hesketh-Harvey (1994-2010)
Steve Frost (1995-2004)
Julian Clary (1997-present)
Linda Smith (1999-2005)
Ross Noble (2000-present)
Sue Perkins (2000-present)
Liza Tarbuck (2001-present)
Chris Neill (2002-present)
BBC Radio 4, 22 December 1967 to present
BBC (unaired TV pilots) 1969, 1981
Mike Mansfield TV for Carlton Television (ITV), 6 January 1994 to 1 September 1995 (28 episodes in 2 series)
BBC Birmingham for BBC One, 19 April to 14 May 1999 (20 episodes in 1 series)
bbc.co.uk webcast, 5 to 6 March 2011 (24 Hour Panel People)
BBC Two, 26 March to 6 April 2012 (10 episodes in 1 series)
Simple but skilful panel game where celebrities have to talk on a given topic without hesitation, repetition or deviation. It is heavily based on the 1951 BBC radio format One Minute Please.
Breaking any one of these rules allows one of your three opponents to challenge and, if a correct challenge is made, you get the topic for the remainder of the minute. You pick up one point for each correct challenge, and a bonus point if you're the person still speaking when the whistle blows at the end of the minute.
Parsons was not the first choice of host. Originally, the moustached wonder Jimmy Edwards was lined up, but as the show was recorded on a Sunday he refused to give up his game of polo! Parsons had originally been down to be one of the panellists, and was looking forward to getting after various link man/straight man roles on other radio and TV comedies. However, BBC producer David Hatch was insistent that Parsons should have the job.
The first series was not much of a success, and Hatch had to make a stand and threatened to resign unless it got another go. Series two had an experimental feel to it, with three of shows involving a musical chairs kind of format with Parsons playing the game and letting the other contestants chair one show each. This series also saw the introduction of Kenneth Williams, who became a popular guest on the show. The "repetition" rule regarded repeating ones ideas and thoughts, rather than individual words. Also "penalty rounds" where a common word such as "I" or "they" were banned were in force. It's only until series three that the four contestant format finally beds down.
Most of the fun comes from the clever challenges made by the celebrities. The television version works, but whether it's as good or better than the original radio version is rather doubtful.
The introductory music is The Minute Waltz by Chopin.
In the first series, the "time up" noise was a cuckoo. In series two, this changed to a bell or hooter, but this was too similar to the buzzer used by the contestants to challenge. From the third series onwards, a whistle has been used.
Kenneth Williams often did his best to put off Clement Freud while he was speaking, by flashing his leg or snuggling under his beard.
Early programmes were introduced thus: "Here to tell you about it is the Man of the Minute, Nicholas Parsons", later adapted to: "As the Minute Waltz fades away, here to tell you about it is our Chairman, Nicholas Parsons". Now no voiceover is used, Nicholas Parsons now says "Welcome to Just a Minute! (cheer) Hello, my name is Nicholas Parsons and, as the Minute Waltz fades away, it is my huge pleasure to welcome..." (etc.)
Until about 1980, the show's billing in Radio Times usually said that it was "A panel game controlled (!) by Nicholas Parsons, featuring" that week's contestants.
7 October 1968: Clement Freud
14 October 1968: Geraldine Jones
21 October 1968: Kenneth Williams
16 February 1970: Clement Freud
23 February 1970: Kenneth Williams
12 January 1977: Ian Messiter (Clement Freud was delayed by the weather, Parsons took his place and so Messiter was asked to chair)
9 May 1983: Clement Freud
15 October 1983: Kenneth Williams
Just a Minute has usually been transmitted in the winter months, with series of up to 26 episodes. As the years ran, the series became shorter, settling at about ten programmes by the early '80s. The current pattern - with one series running at the start of the year and more new episodes over the summer - was established in 1997.
Two special episodes aired in July 1992, and anniversary specials went out on New Year's Day 2003 (35th anniversary), and New Year's Eve 2007 (40th). A number of specials were made on the 45th anniversary (Series 62) - a special 'best of' edition called "Without Hesitation", a short series of TV editions, and two radio shows recorded in Mumbai.
Just a Minute (volume 2) Audio cassette from the Radio 4 version
Just a Minute (volume 3) Audio cassette from the Radio 4 version
Just a Minute (volume 4) Audio cassette from the Radio 4 version
Just-a-Minute.info - remarkably comprehensive fan site
Weaver's Week review of 2012 television series.