Book Review: Welcome to Just A Minute, by Nicholas Parsons
Oops, wrong panel game, though in fact there is an anecdote in here involving Nicholas Parsons, Lionel Blair, and Fanny Craddock. This book has two purposes - to explain the origins of Just A Minute, and to showcase Parsons' favourite excerpts from nearly 50 years of broadcasting. In fact, Ian Messiter produced a show called One Minute Please! in the 1950s with remarkably similar rules, a fact apparently not lost on early listeners. Parsons wanted to be one of the panellists rather than the chairman, but the producers decided he should take the chair. In fact in one series the chair rotated, giving Parsons his opportunity, and afterwards the consensus was that he fitted the chair better. In the first few series there were other experiments, such as rounds with additional rules prohibiting certain common words or phrases. Mostly, though, the book functions as a compendium of challenges, unbroken minutes, guest appearances, and the changes in the "regulars" of the panel over the years. Outraged Kenneth Williams, competitive Clement Freud, charming Derek Nimmo and soporific Peter Jones, eventually giving way to, inter alia, Paul Merton, Linda Smith, Sue Perkins and Graham Norton. I do have the feeling that Parsons could have been more selective in his choices, but it's an easy and enjoyable read.