JUST A MINUTE goes from strength to strength. After 44 years it not only maintains its high standard and huge popularity, I believe it is funnier. The regular players have sharpened their skills and techniques of playing the game, and with the rapport and interplay between us all, we are sometimes surprised how the show can generate even more audience reaction and laughter than previous recordings. It is my favourite job. It is professionally most demanding, but tremendous fun. I have to be alert and concentrate harder than in any other engagement I indertake. It's my responsibility to make instant decisions, generate fun, control the show and listen to every word spoken and remember, so I can judge if a challenge is correct - especially if it is for repetition. There is no technical backup. I was in the original pilot show in 1967, and am amazed to discover I have taken part in well over 700 recordings.
In 2008 the BBC brought out a second CD and cassette, JUST A CLASSIC MINUTE, which includes a recording from the 60s, 70s, 80s and the 90s. I wrote and recorded an introduction to each show, and it is amazing to discover how the programme has progressed and evolved over the years, which I highlight in my introductions. In 2009 the BBC produced another CD and cassette of four classic recordings, which were introduced by Paul Merton and myself talking about each recording and the programme in general. If you enjoyed the previous four, you will love this one and the next.
I agreed to return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with THE NICHOLAS PARSONS HAPPY HOUR - my comedy chat show - in the summer, in which I do some stand-up and have celebrity guests. I thought after nine successive years I might be overstaying my welcome, but the business was better than ever, so I agreed to go back. I love the whole atmosphere of the Festival Fringe and look forward to returning.
I am still working on cruise ships, I enjoy the work and the different places the ship visits. In February 2007 I returned to work for Fred Olsen for two weeks on the Black Watch, cruising in the Middle East and up the Suez Canal, in July with P&O in the Eastern Mediterranean, and in October with Saga all along the North African coast on Saga Rose. I perform my One Man Comedy Show which is really stand-up, and my cultural show devoted to the life and work of the great nonsense poet Edward Lear, and a Cabaret Evening.
I have been involved in a number of individual one-off shows for BBC Radio 4. Following the success of CLYDESIDE COMICS, which I wrote and presented, there was MASTERS OF THE QUIZ - a programme about every aspect of quizzing. I then devised a programme about memory, called THANKS FOR THE MEMORY, that I made with All Out Productions, in which we explore every aspect of memory, and illustrated what an important part it plays in our lives, whatever our profession. This programme was transmitted in the Spring of 2006. Later in the year I visited India to record a programme I had devised about quizzing in that country, and the popularity of JUST A MINUTE over there. It was called QUIZ EXCHANGE and was transmitted in March 2007.
In October and November 2007 I completed an amazing tour around this country with my One Man Show devoted to Edward Lear, visiting a different venue nearly every night; a lot were literary festivals. It was a demanding experience which I won't repeat in a hurry. In 2008 and 2009 I was more selective and performed the show at a number of individual dates spread out through the year in between other work, and of course when working on cruise ships.
In 2008 I had engagements with my One Man Comedy Show in the Spring, and a tour in September. Then I began a 2 week cruise on the Saga Rose in the Mediterranean. I also wrote and appeared in a new radio show for the BBC Archive Hour - a fascinating subject which I titled How Radio Comedy Changed a Nation. It was transmitted in October and repeated on Christmas Eve.
2009 was a hectic year - guesting in television and radio shows, three weeks on Saga Rose in April doing five shows. There were after dinner engagements, single nights with my comedy show at various theatres around the country, as well as fitting in many charity engagements. In August I returned to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to present my other one man show for three weeks - The Nicholas Parsons Happy Hour. In November I returned from two weeks entertaining again on Saga Rose.
And so to 2010, which was even more hectic than the previous year. In between recording Just A Minute and performing my solo shows all round the country, I finished writing my memoirs, which were commissioned by Mainstream Publishing. I was due to deliver in the Spring, but as I find writing a challenge I kept falling behind the delivery date. The final draft was eventually recveived in July and the book was launched during my Edinburgh season at The Pleasance, at the city Bookfest. What a memorable occasion! A packed audience and a large number of copies sold - "Nicholas Parsons: With Just a Touch of Hesitation, Repetition and Deviation" - in hardback or on Kindle click here for my page on Amazon. The book has had very positive reviews and is selling well. The literary luncheons are also very enjoyable, including Simpsons in the Strand in December and in Cambridge during my Christmas season there - hosting the Russian ice skaters in their fabulous production of Snow White On Ice at the Corn Exchange.
2011 is turning out to be a momentous year, probably because the Memoirs are out and I have been promoting them on many occasions; interviews on television, radio and signings after performing my One Man Comedy Show at various venues around the country. In August I did two shows on The Fringe in Edinburgh, reprising my Happy Hour Show for two-and-a-half weeks, then a play for one-and-a-half weeks, a two hander by Alan Bennett alongside Suki Webster, "A Visit From Miss Protheroe" with capacity business for both. There has been a cruise in September with Noble Caledonian around the Greek Islands and another series of Just A Minute. We are preparing a TV series of this amazing radio show for transmission next year. My One Man Comedy Show in Folkstone on 4 November, more after dinners in the period up to Christmas, then a Radio 4, "With Great Pleasure", the series in which I present my choice of favourite comedy and dramatic exerpts from plays and books, with the help of two established actors. That is enough for now. Stay tuned, there is more to follow.