Required viewing/listening: ‘Just a Minute’

Thanks to the Internet, it’s relatively straightforward to learn about entertainment produced in other countries.  Thanks to Comedy Central, I watched the British episodes of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” long before the American version, and because of the wider variety of contestants found it a bit more entertaining (although I do still love the American version, and look forward to its return this summer). Thanks to my knowledge of that show, I found a radio show (that’s occasionally appeared on TV, such as the above) that’s been keeping me entertained as of late: “Just a Minute.”

Launched in 1967, the show’s 45+ year run, hosted by the masterful Nicholas Parsons since its inception, features four contestants taking turns speaking on a subject for 60 seconds while following just three rules: no hesitation, repetition or deviation from the subject.  Despite such rules, it’s a challenging game, especially when the other contestants are there to challenge you for making a mistake, so they can earn a point and take over the subject.

Similar to shows like “Whose Line?” and “Match Game,” the entertainment part of the show is more important than the game itself. And indeed, the variety of great minds and quick-witted people that appear on the show keep it entertaining.  Current regular Paul Merton appeared in early seasons of Whose Line (and Josie Lawrence, another regular, has been appearing in a few shows a year for awhile now). Earlier shows heavily featured Wendy Richard, who was hilarious as Ms. Brahms in “Are You Being Served?”

The show’s four original regulars, names I was unfamiliar with before hearing the show (Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo, Kenneth Williams and Peter Jones) were amazing to hear play against each other because they got so good at the game, knowing each other and playing off each other beautifully to lead to highly entertaining moments

Amazingly, aside from Parsons, one of the earliest semi-regulars, Sheila Hancock, who first appeared on the second episode, still makes appearances on the show every year or two today; having listened to a few of her shows in different areas it’s easy to see why they keep bringing her back – funny, sharp, and a good player. Because of her incredible acting talents, they’re unable to book her more often – a shame, really, as she’s equally at home here.

If you enjoy humor tilted a bit towards the more intelligent side, this is a fantastic program to check out.

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