Just a Minute: Without repetition, hesitation, or deviation

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just-a-minute-cd.jpgFans of quick-witted British comedy and verbal virtuosity will enjoy a BBC Radio 4 Extra special about the long-running radio panel show Just a Minute.

Just a Minute involves four players and a chairman. The chairman gives a subject to one of the players, who is to speak on the subject topic for 60 seconds without repetition, hesitation, or deviation. If the speaker falters, any other player can buzz in with a challenge. If the challenge is upheld, the challenger takes over the subject for any time remaining. Whoever is speaking when the whistle blows after 60 seconds wins the round. Points are awarded for successful challenges, overruled challenges, winning a round and sometimes just on the chairman's whim. The rules of the game put a premium on thinking on your feet and a rich vocabulary.

Half the fun is the banter that takes place while the clock is stopped for a challenge. (For example, I'm listening to a show from June 2, 1982, in which the topic of bathing a baby has turned into a debate over proper technique for supporting an infant.) For most of the first two decades, the show featured three regular panelists, author and politician Clement Freud, comedic actors Kenneth Williams and Derek Nimmo, and a guest, usually female, in the fourth chair, with actor Peter Jones (who played the Book in the original radio version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) as a frequent substitute. Comedian Paul Merton has been a regular panelist since 1989. Nicholas Parsons has served as chairman since the show's inception in 1967.

There is renewed interest the radio show as Just a Minute returns to BBC television later this month and the CDs of classic episodes have been re-released.

You can listen online to the three-hour BBC Radio 4 Extra special "Just a Minute: Without Hesitation," featuring highlights of the game's four-and-a-half decades, through midday (Tulsa time) March 24, 2012. BBC Radio 4 Extra runs a new episode most weeks, which you can find here.


Just a Minute fan website with episode guides, cast lists, and streaming episodes.

The origins of Just a Minute

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Roy said:

Shoulda guessed there existed an inspiration of "Wait, wait, don't tell me".

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