Just A Minute (1967-1971)

First through fifth series of the radio panel game
from archive.org

Just A Minute : A radio panel game created by Ian Messiter in 1967.

All the episodes of Just A Minute which first aired prior to 1990 are rare, because they have been banned by the BBC and are no longer broadcast. Presented here are the rarest of all, including the surviving recordings from the first ever series, which began in December 1967.

The game is usually played by a panel of four showbusiness celebrities (although in some early editions there are only three), under the control of chairman Nicholas Parsons.

Regular panellists through the years included Clement Freud (an MP, who was originally a celebrity chef), Derek Nimmo (a stage and film actor specialising in comedy roles), Kenneth Williams (a comedy actor in film and on radio), and Peter Jones (an actor on radio and tv who usually played in comedy, and who on occasion also wrote his own comedy material). The original producer was David Hatch.

Contestants have to speak on a subject nominated by the chairman (who has a stack of cards in front of him, with the subjects written on, from which he selects one). Each round lasts one minute. A player has to speak without
hesitating, without repeating any word (gradually this rule changed, so that eventually they were allowed to repeat the words on the card), and without deviating from the chosen subject.

If a contestant believes the person speaking has hesitated, repeated a word, or deviated from the subject, they can 'buzz' in with a challenge. If the chairman rules the challenge valid, the successful challenger gains one point, and takes over the subject. The person who is speaking at the end of the minute gains an extra point. At the end of the half-hour, the contestant with most points wins.

Don't look for consistency in the application of the rules! In these early years, the rules change nearly every week, as Nicholas Parsons had a broad remit to improvise, so as to enable ideas that worked to replace rules which didn't, as the show tried to find a successful format. For instance, no one involved had much idea as to what the rule against repetition really meant in practice, so it changed most of all.

Each week, Nicholas Parsons tries to explain what he thinks the rules for that week really are, and then goes on to break most of them! This certainly provides a good deal of humour, not least from the outraged comments of the regular players, who keep finding the goalposts have moved yet again! Much of the humour, and interest, is generated from the interaction (and general argy-bargy) between the panellists, as they compete for points. As well as from the often fractious relations between the panel and the chairman, on whom they often gang-up.

Nicholas Parsons knew Clement Freud particularly well, as they had been at school together. Nicholas only became chairman by chance: originally engaged as a panellist, he volunteered to substitute as chairman at the last minute, when the original choice was unavailable on the day for taping the pilot show. His remit to be 'flexible' led to Nicholas improvising various other reasons for awarding (and deducting) points, and to invent a system for avoiding making difficult decisions -- by passing the buck to the studio audience.

The show originally aped an older BBC panel game format known as battle of the sexes, as a contest of men vs women. This proved unsatisfactory, because the players were not grouped into teams, but played as individuals. But because of audience familiarity with the older format, in early editions there is a conscious effort to always feature both men and women each week. In some seasons, there is even a regular female contestant, such as Andre Melly, who is in the show every week.

The early years saw a huge turnover in contestants, with at least half the players changing each week, as the show's producer frantically sought to find celebrities who were any good at public speaking, and who could master the demands of the rules. It was such a demanding format that many of the celebrities who turned up were never invited back!

Individual recordings from this show are traditionally identified by the subject chosen for the first round. That practice is adopted here: the filename for each recording includes the original airdate together with the title of the first topic.

This is a collection of recordings which were preserved on vinyl discs by the BBC Transcription Service, and as such these editions are nearly always recorded from overseas repeats, mainly from Australian radio. A recording preserved on a Transcription disc is always slightly edited in order to fit on the disc. This typically means that one round has been lost, compared to an off-air tape recorded from the original UK transmission.

The show was based on One Minute Please, which aired in 1952. And Nicholas Parsons became the chairman as a consequence of his involvement in the 1966 series Listen To This Space. One surviving episode of each of those earlier radio shows is included here.

To listen, you can download the file to your device. Right-click on a link, then click on the 'Save Link As' option:

One Minute Please (1952)

Listen To This Space (1966)

One Minute Please : 1952/09/21

Presented here is the only known surviving edition of One Minute Please, from 1952.

It's Ladies vs Gentlemen in the Just a Minute forerunner, One Minute Please, which ran for three series in the 1950s. Devised by its producer, Ian Messiter, and making its debut in 1951, the original format was a trial of wits between teams of three male and three female celebrities - and with a jury!

Contestants still had to speak alternately on different subjects without pausing, without repeating themselves, and without side-tracking. Unlike its successor, One Minute Please had a further twist of secret passwords that only listeners at home were told in advance. The first mention of the password gained three points - but every time it was mentioned again a point was deducted. If one team member felt someone wasn't sticking to the rules, he or she could buzz in and appeal to the jury - which could either reject it or award a point. A running total of winning teams was kept, so that either the men's or women's teams triumphed at the end of the series.

In this surviving episode from 21st September 1952, Desert Island Discs creator Roy Plomley is the host, and "The Ladies" are Margot Holden, Martina Mayne and Violetta Farjeon; who take on "The Gentlemen" - Gerard Hoffnung, Eric Sykes and Jack Train. The Jury consists of Laidman Browne, Hugh Burden and Humphrey Lestocq.

Broadcast Copyright

The 50 year period of broadcast copyright under section 14(2) of the UK's Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/section/14) has expired for all items included in this collection.

  1. Just A Minute - s01e02 1967-12-29 - Bedrooms (12.4Mb)
  2. Just A Minute - s01e07 1968-02-02 - My Honeymoon (21.6Mb)
  3. Just A Minute - s01e08 1968-02-09 - Bloomer (12.3Mb)
  4. Just A Minute - s01e10 1968-02-23 - My First Grown-Up Dress (24.9Mb)
  5. Just A Minute - s01e13 1968-03-15 - When I Wear A Top Hat (24.5Mb)
  6. Just A Minute - s01e14 1968-03-22 - Keeping Wicket (24.8Mb)
  7. Just A Minute - s01e15 1968-03-29 - Outdoor Games (24.5Mb)
  8. Just A Minute - s01e16 1968-04-05 - How To Stay Lovely (12.4Mb)
  9. Just A Minute - s02e01 1968-09-30 - Learning To Fly (Kenneth Williams Debut) (24.8Mb)
  10. Just A Minute - s02e02 1968-10-07 - Making An Entrance (24.5Mb)
  11. Just A Minute - s02e03 1968-10-14 - How To Eat Macaroni (24.7Mb)
  12. Just A Minute - s02e04 1968-10-21 - Days Of The Week (24.5Mb)
  13. Just A Minute - s02e05 1968-10-28 - Winter Woolies (24.6Mb)
  14. Just A Minute - s02e06 1968-11-04 - Pythagoras (24.7Mb)
  15. Just A Minute - s03e03 1969-01-14 - Doing Nothing (35Mb)
  16. Just A Minute - s03e04 1969-01-21 - What You See In The Looking Glass (36.8Mb)
  17. Just A Minute - s03e05 1969-01-28 - Striking A Fresh Acquaintance (36.9Mb)
  18. Just A Minute - s03e06 1969-02-04 - Dogwatch (36.9Mb)
  19. Just A Minute - s03e07 1969-02-11 - Giving Up Smoking (24.7Mb)
  20. Just A Minute - s03e08 1969-02-18 - The Best Hour In The Week (12.3Mb)
  21. Just A Minute - s03e09 1969-02-25 - Gossiping (36.7Mb)
  22. Just A Minute - s03e11 1969-03-11 - How To Be Good (37.1Mb)
  23. Just A Minute - s04e01 1969-09-29 - What To Reply To How Do You Do (12.3Mb)
  24. Just A Minute - s04e02 1969-10-06 - Where To Draw The Line (12.3Mb)
  25. Just A Minute - s04e03 1969-10-13 - Preventing Long Telephone Conversations (36.5Mb)
  26. Just A Minute - s04e04 1969-10-20 - The Function Of A Good Waiter (24.5Mb)
  27. Just A Minute - s04e05 1969-10-27 - The Things I Say (18.4Mb)
  28. Just A Minute - s04e06 1969-11-03 - Bloomers (18.4Mb)
  29. Just A Minute - s04e07 1969-11-10 - Interviewing A Secretary (24.6Mb)
  30. Just A Minute - s04e08 1969-11-17 - Receiving Compliments (18.5Mb)
  31. Just A Minute - s04e09 1969-11-24 - Appearing In Public (18.5Mb)
  32. Just A Minute - s04e10 1969-12-01 - What I Most Desire (18.6Mb)
  33. Just A Minute - s04e11 1969-12-08 - Watchdogs (18.6Mb)
  34. Just A Minute - s04e12 1969-12-15 - Hot Dogs (18.4Mb)
  35. Just A Minute - s04e13 1969-12-22 - Joy (24.6Mb)
  36. Just A Minute - s04e14 1969-12-29 - Makeup (18.6Mb)
  37. Just A Minute - s04e15 1970-01-05 - Bacchus (18.4Mb)
  38. Just A Minute - s04e16 1970-01-12 - Policemen (18.4Mb)
  39. Just A Minute - s04e17 1970-01-19 - False Teeth (12.3Mb)
  40. Just A Minute - s04e18 1970-01-26 - Astrology (17.5Mb)
  41. Just A Minute - s04e19 1970-02-02 - Oliver Cromwell (18.4Mb)
  42. Just A Minute - s04e20 1970-02-09 - Constantinople (18.4Mb)
  43. Just A Minute - s04e21 1970-02-16 - The Blarney Stone (18.4Mb)
  44. Just A Minute - s04e22 1970-02-23 - The Alphabet (18.4Mb)
  45. Just A Minute - s04e23 1970-03-02 - Passing The Buck (18.4Mb)
  46. Just A Minute - s04e24 1970-03-09 - Hercules (18.4Mb)
  47. Just A Minute - s04e25 1970-03-16 - Boswell (18.4Mb)
  48. Just A Minute - s04e26 1970-03-23 - Breaking A Code (18.4Mb)
  49. Just A Minute - s04e27 1970-03-30 - Romulus And Remus (18.4Mb)
  50. Just A Minute - s05e01 1970-09-08 - Demonectomy (18.5Mb)
  51. Just A Minute - s05e02 1970-09-15 - Something For Nothing (18.1Mb)
  52. Just A Minute - s05e03 1970-09-22 - The Little People (18.4Mb)
  53. Just A Minute - s05e06 1970-10-13 - Ironing My Smalls (18.4Mb)
  54. Just A Minute - s05e07 1970-10-20 - Avoiding The Bill In A Restaurant (24.6Mb)
  55. Just A Minute - s05e08 1970-10-27 - Thrills (24.6Mb)
  56. Just A Minute - s05e09 1970-11-03 - Admirable Virtues (24.6Mb)
  57. Just A Minute - s05e10 1970-11-10 - Avoiding Income Tax (24.6Mb)
  58. Just A Minute - s05e11 1970-11-17 - Wine (24.6Mb)
  59. Just A Minute - s05e12 1970-11-24 - What Excites Me (24.6Mb)
  60. Just A Minute - s05e13 1970-12-01 - My Cooker [Composite] (24.4Mb)
  61. Just A Minute - s05e14 1970-12-08 - Panic (24.5Mb)
  62. Just A Minute - s05e15 1970-12-15 - Enjoying Life (18.3Mb)
  63. Just A Minute - s05e16 1970-12-22 - Stuffing Your Christmas Bird (18.5Mb)
  64. Just A Minute - s05e17 1970-12-29 - Panache (24.5Mb)
  65. Just A Minute - s05e18 1971-01-05 - Astronomy (24.6Mb)
  66. Just A Minute - s05e20 1971-01-19 - Modern Art (24.6Mb)
  67. Just A Minute - s05e21 1971-01-26 - The Snags of Showbusiness (24.6Mb)
  68. Just A Minute - s05e22 1971-02-02 - Demonstrating (24.5Mb)
  69. Just A Minute - s05e23 1971-02-09 - Unblocking The Kitchen Sink (18.4Mb)
  70. Just A Minute - s05e24 1971-02-16 - Jellyfish (18.4Mb)
  71. Just A Minute - s05e25 1971-02-23 - Frederick the Great (18.5Mb)
  72. Just A Minute - s05e26 1971-03-02 - Kenneth Williams (24.6Mb)
  73. Listen To This Space - 1966-01-07 (13.3Mb)

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