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Just a Minute - Panelists Announced

Just a Minute

Just a Minute

Originally Published 27 October 2003

The panelists have been announced...

The Warwick audience can expect to be entertained by Graham Norton, Ross Noble, Paul Merton and Sir Clement Freud.

BBC Radio 4’s most devious panel game returns this month and will be recording at a number of university towns around the country. Just A Minute will visiting Warwick Arts Centre on Sunday 2 November.

Tickets are £5 each and they can be obtained from Warwick Arts Centre: 024 7652 4524.

A staple of Radio 4’s comedy programming, Just A Minute has been running for over thirty-five years despite initial scepticism that it would last only for six programmes. Chairman Nicholas Parsons continues to attempt – and mostly succeed – in keeping control over a roll-call of celebrity contenders attempting to talk on a subject for sixty seconds without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Previous panellists have included Paul Merton, Clement Freud, Ross Noble, Linda Smith, Tony Hawks, Graham Norton, Fred MacAulay and Lisa Tarbuck.

The Rules of the Game

For those of you who aren't familar with the show the rules of the game ar as follows. Four contestants are given 60 seconds to speak on a subject shown on a card, but they have to do so without hesitation, repetition or deviation from the theme. Only the word or phrase on the card may be repeated. For each correct challenge, the challenger is given one point. For an incorrect challenge, the person being challenged receives the point. There is a point for speaking when the whistle blows and a bonus point for speaking for the whole minute without interruption.

With the death of Kenneth Williams, there was a fear that the show would die with him, but this wasn’t to be the case as new comedians stepped in to continue the show’s popularity, including Julian Clary, Stephen Fry, Graham Norton, Jenny Éclair, Liza Tarbuck, Ross Noble and Paul Merton.

Ten things you might not know about Just a Minute

  1. Ian Messiter, the show’s inventor, was originally an illusionist called Cassan The Mystic, named after his surgeon father Dr Cyril Cassan Messiter.
  2. Paul Merton wrote to the producer asking to be on the panel
  3. Kenneth Williams’ mum sat in the front row for every performance he appeared in, laughing loudly at her son’s jokes
  4. Clement Freud and Nicholas Parsons were at the same school
  5. Nicholas Parsons originally didn’t want the job of chairman, preferring to be on the panel. He has now been chairing for 35 years
  6. There was a Just A Minute board game manufactured by Chad Valley in the fifties
  7. Clement Freud, as one of the original Just A Minute panellists, has taken part in the greatest number of shows – 443 so far
  8. The first TV version of the game was sold to Dumont TV in America in 1954
  9. Peter Jones was a pioneer in radio improvisation being the first comedian to be allowed on the airwaves without a BBC approved script
  10. Guests have included Aimi MacDonald, Alfred Marks, Liz Frazer, Willie Rushton, Warren Michell, Barbara Castle, Prunella Scales, Fenella Fielding and Beryl Reid, Magnus Pyke, Thora Hird, Pam Ayres, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Cribbins and Patrick Moore.

What the Participants Say:

Nicholas Parsons
“As chairman, I endeavor to keep the show moving, while at the same time generating as much fun as possible, and it is this fun and enjoyment in what we are doing which is communicated to the listener and helps keep the show successful.”

Paul Merton
"It's the only time I've ever done this, I wrote a letter to the producer suggesting myself.... so he phoned me up and he wanted to know what I was going to be wearing...I don't know what he thought...I was going to come in the nude or something....Just A Minute is the best panel game ever devised and it will run forever.”

Ross Noble
“It’s like spinning plates, playing chess and giving directions to a place you’ve never been to all at the same time while someone melts your brain with a blowtorch.”

Julian Clary
“Playing Just A Minute makes my brain hurt a little bit; it’s the deviation, I just can’t help myself.”

Clement Freud
“I think the next 35 years will be harder for me…”

Bernard Cribbins
“I remember every time I got into trouble – you know, with a hesitation or digression or whatever – and Nicholas Parsons would ask me what I was doing, I would always reply “I’m just offering Kenny another mint.”

Sheila Hancock
“I have been lucky enough to span the changing face of Just A Minute. First the likes of Kenneth Williams, Peter Jones and Derek Nimmo. Then the new generation of Paul Merton, Graham Norton and thank heavens, more women such as Jenny Éclair and Linda Smith. I always enjoy myself inordinately. In fact I have been known to spend most of the recording laughing at the others, forgetting I am being paid to contribute. It was because of one such feeble performance that Kenneth coined the phrase ‘they shouldn’t have women on this show’”

Tim Rice
“It’s one of the programmes I always listen to and want to be on. I even enjoy listening to it when I’m not on it.”

Warwick Arts Centre Event Details