Just as uproariously funny - and terrifically popular -
today as when it first began on BBC Radio 4 in 1969, Just
a Minute challenges contestants to speak for one minute
on a given subject without repetition, hesitation or deviation.
It's mix of irreverent fun and ferocious competition has always
attracted stellar names from the world of comedy and theatre,
all of whom pit their wits against regular players including
Kenneth Williams, Paul Merton, Derek Nimmo, Clement Freud
and Peter Jones. Among the guests in these four archive programmes
are Ray Alan, Thora Hird, Bob Monkhouse, Wendy Richard and
a Minute was devised by the late Ian Messiter who came
up with the idea on the top of a number 13 bus. He suddenly
remembered being given the horrible task of speaking for one
minute without hesitation or deviation by one of his school
David Hatch put the pilot show before a BBC development board
who were sceptical that the series would run for more than
six programmes. Nearly 40 years later, 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
is the third volume in the Just a Classic Minute series
of comedy CD releases from the BBC. How they choose the episodes
to be included is anyone's guess - although I suppose to be
fair I've never heard a bad episode of the show in all the
years I've been listening to Radio 4. You could probably pick
four episodes at random from the '70s, '80s and '90s and it
would still be as good as entertaining as this collection.
first episode, from 1977, stars Kennith Williams, Peter Jones,
Clement Freud and ventriloquist Ray Alan. Highlights include
Alan having to talk for a minute on "Gread and Gutter"
as well as Williams playing the audience like a violin.
up we have an episode from 1976 starring Derek Nimmo, Peter
Jones, Clement Freud and Thora Hird. To be honest this is
the weakest of the four episodes but it's great hearing Derek
Nimmo having to talk about what he has in his handbag.
third instalment dates from 1980 and features Kenneth Williams,
Derek Nimmo, Clement Freud and Bob Monkhouse. Monkhouse is
hilarious and rolls off a whole stream of one line gags including:
"Is Karl Marx's grave a communist plot?" Another
highlight is the one minute topic: "Advice to a 21 year
finally we have an episode from 1992 that stars Derek Nimmo,
Wendy Richards, Paul Merton and Stephen Fry. Fry really throws
himself into this episode with some passion - you actually
feel for him when he messes up. Also Richards has a not very
exciting fishing tale to tell. Actually, it was during this
segment that Richards started to sound like she was reading
from well prepared notes she had made earlier.
icing on the cake is the introductions to each episode. Nicholas
Parsons, who has been at the helm of the series since it began,
puts each episode into context as well as providing some behind
the scenes information. Also, his stories about Williams are
quite touching. Firstly, Williams was the only person to ever
pay Parsons a compliment on air and secondly the fact that
Parsons had to occasionally act as Williams's therapist and
bring him out of his shell was a nice little insight into
the making of this show.
a shame though that more episodes were not included. It would
have been great if this release had contained six episodes
instead of the four. Otherwise, this is an almost faultless
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