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The News Quiz

"And as The Minute Waltz fades away...please talk for 60 seconds on a random subject without hesitation, deviation or repetition"
A selection of favourite performers - Derek Nimmo, Nicholas Parsons, Paul Merton, Peter Jones.
Related Links

Just a Minute on Radio 4
Arena special on Just a Minute
An unofficial guide to Just a Minute

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Just a Minute, which celebrated its 35th anniversary on New Year's Day 2003, is loved and listened to all over the world. In fact, many people from China have thanked the programme for helping them with their English language learning - although the team would like to absolve itself from any responsibility for any misunderstandings that might arise in international diplomacy.

Ian Messiter, who had the original idea for the show, said he suddenly remembered a punishment handed out to him during his schooldays: if the schoolmaster noticed a boy wasn't listening during class, he'd make him speak for a minute without repetition or hesitation.

As with all long-running shows, this one was deemed to have only a limited appeal and to warrant only a six-week commission. Thirty-five years later the show can boast many fans, including Paul Merton, one of its present panellists.

Paul used to tape the show when he was a schoolboy and says now "it's the only time I've ever done this, I wrote a letter to the producer suggesting myself … so he phoned me up and he wanted to know what I was going to be wearing … I don't know what he thought … I was going to come in the nude or something."

Nicholas Parsons, the show's chairman (though some might say he sometimes has to act as a ringmaster) was originally keen to be on the panel, and has had to bear the brunt of many jokes against him - most notably lengthy diatribes from the late Kenneth Williams.

Down the years, the team regulars have included Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo, Peter Jones, Kenneth Williams, Ross Noble and Linda Smith, with special guests such as Barbara Castle, Jeremy Beadle, Millie, Marjorie Proops, Patrick Moore and Liza Tarbuck taking part.
Special plea: the BBC Sound Archive is missing the very first episode so, if you've got a recording, please get in touch.

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