Just A Minute, 1967
This BBC Radio panel game that just keeps running. it’s now 2023 and the show has been running for an amazing 91 series and counting.
The idea behind the show was first used in a show One Minute Please, chaired by Roy Plomley. Whilst the fundamental rules were the same, the game was played in two teams of three rather than with four individual contestants. This show was broadcast between 1951 and 1957. There had been previous incarnations of the show in other countries, these included a 1952 version in South Africa, as well as a television version on the DuMont network in the United States.
However it was in 1967 that a pilot show for Just A minute was recorded. It featured: Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo, Beryl Reid and Wilma Ewart as panellists. The chairman was originally planned to be Jimmy Edwards, but as he was unavailable on the proposed recording dates Nicholas Parsons took up chairmanship duties, a role he still holds today. The show was very nearly not commissioned as BBC Executives disliked the pilot. It was producer David Hatch that saved the day by threatening to resign if he could not oversee a full series. As the BBC wished to hang on to him they commissioned a full series, the rest is history as it still runs today.
Sadly we lost Nicholas Parsons in 2020, but as of 2021 comedian Sue Perkins took over hosting duties.
After two false starts in 1969 and 1981 with two pilot episodes being recorded for television, but never broadcast, except in documentaries about Kenneth Williams, several series have made it to TV, in 1994 Carlton Television made 14 shows with a further 14 in 1995, these were broadcast on ITV. In 1999 the BBC televised the show recording 20 episodes. The last TV outing was 2012 to mark 45 years of the show the BBC broadcast 10 episodes over two weeks.
Four panelists are challenged to speak for one minute on a given subject (which they are not able to prepare for in advance) without “repetition, hesitation, or deviation”. Over the years, the application of these rules has been inconsistent and is thus the focus of much of the comic interplay between those appearing on the program as Chairman Nicholas Parsons’ rulings are challenged.
During the first three series, the rules were a little more complicated and sometimes applied on a one-off basis — a ban on the word “is” might apply in a round, for example. These days the rules are quite straightforward.
Chairman: Nicholas Parsons, 1967 – 2019, Sue Perkins 2020 – present
Panelists: Too many to list
Current Series: BBC Radio4
Older Series: BBC Radio 4 Extra
Created By: Ian Messiter
Original Transmission Dates: 22nd December 1967 – Present
Website: Just a Minute