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Audio Comedy Review


Just a Minute
Series 57


Starring: Nicholas Parsons, Paul Merton, Gyles Brandreth, Graham Norton, Jenny Éclair, Sue Perkins, Liza Tarbuck and John Sergeant
RRP: £10.99
Click here to buy on MP3 for £5.49
ISBN: 978 1 44580 381 4
Available 02 June 2011

Nicholas Parsons chairs this complete series of the devious BBC Radio 4 word game. Featuring in these episodes are panellists Paul Merton, Gyles Brandreth, Graham Norton, Jenny Éclair, Sue Perkins, Liza Tarbuck, John Sergeant, Tony Hawks, Ross Noble, John Bishop, Shappi Khorsandi, Fred MacAulay, Stephen Amos and Sheila Hancock.

This audio collection features all eight episodes of Series 57 of this long running panel game show in which the contestants must speak for one minute on a given subject "without repetition, hesitation or deviation". It's probably the simplest idea for a show and is consistently funny. As a consequence it's been running since December 1967.

Highlights in this collection include "My Idea of Hell" which sees Parson's recounting his time on Doctor Who fighting off hemovores and Merton making a slip of the tongue and referring to the TV show "Buffet the Vampire Hunter" in fact this whole episode almost goes to pot as Parsons gets confused and starts confusing everyone else; Parsons switching off during one of Sergeant's goes; Parsons waffling on about screwdrivers and extinct butterflies; Tarbuck messing up "What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?" when she starts the subject with only four seconds left; Brandreth passionately arguing why he should not lose the subject; and the running joke in an episode when Hawks claims he had a magnificent experience while painting his front room green.

Four hours of timeless comedy for under £11 should be all the excuse you need to add this to your collection. However none of the online stores seem to be stocking it other than AudioGO, the BBC's commercial outlet that recently replaced 2Entertain and BBC Audio. They're currently selling the MP3 files for the ludicrously cheap price of £6.49. While I don't understand the Beeb's current pricing policy (the previous series which is also released this month has 12 episodes for £13.49), this is still excellent value for money.

The only negative aspect is that the MP3s don't come with sleeve notes, so we have no idea when these were originally recorded and broadcast. Thankfully Parsons does point out where the episodes are recorded each week and all but two in this collection were recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre. The other two were taped at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.


Darren Rea