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After 50 years at the helm, and not missing a single episode of Just A Minute, Nicholas Parsons took a day off. He left me to chair a couple of episodes — being broadcast this and last week — of the Radio 4 panel game that is, and always will be, quintessentially his.
It was an honour and fun, for me, but deeply daunting too, stepping in at the last minute to fill the shoes of a man who has been doing the job with such inimitable style for more than 900 episodes.
Just - A - Minute - Nicholas
Chairing Just A Minute is not nearly as easy as Nicholas makes it sound.
For a start, the concentration required is alarming — and the rules far more complicated than you realise when you are simply playing the game. It is exhausting: you have to listen so carefully; you have to come to a judgment so quickly.
Minute - Time - Minute-clock - Broadcast - Chair
Just A Minute is recorded in real time — that minute-clock is genuine and it ticks remorselessly. After my first broadcast as chair, Nicholas phoned me and was typically generous. ‘You were too good,’ he joked. ‘You’re too kind,’ I said — and I meant it.
Nicholas Parsons has been part of my life for almost 50 years.
Radio - Minute - Friday - December - Years
I first heard him on the radio, hosting Just A Minute, on Friday, December 22, 1967. I first met him two years later. I was a 21-year-old student at Oxford University and president of the Oxford Union debating society.
I had invited **** Cradock, the husky-voiced no-nonsense TV chef (Mary Berry with attitude), to be one of the speakers at an end-of-term debate. Generously, she then invited me and my girlfriend to her Christmas party.
Champagne - **** - Hands - Time - Nicholas
‘The champagne flowed and at 11pm, **** clapped her hands and announced that it was “cabaret time”. Turning to Nicholas Parsons, she declared: “Nicholas will...
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