JUST A MINUTE goes from strength to strength. After 40 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. The new series began on Monday 31 December with a special memorabilia compilation, and then every Monday for eleven weeks, repeated on Sundays at 12 noon.
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 the 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 over 800 recordings.
Last summer 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 have written 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. This summer the BBC are producing another CD and cassette of four classic recordings, which will be 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 have agreed to return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with THE NICHOLAS PARSONS HAPPY HOUR – my comedy chat show – in 2008. I thought after seven successive years I might be overstaying my welcome, but the business last August was better than ever, so I have agreed to go back to The Pleasance. It will be at the same time, 5.15pm in the Cabaret Bar for the last three weeks of August. I love the whole atmosphere of the Festival Fringe and am looking forward to returning.
I am still cruising, I enjoy the work and the different places the ship visits. In February last year 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 dedicated 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 radio shows. 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 2006 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 2007 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 have accepted engagements in Henley (12 April), Alnwick (1 May), King’s Lynn (1 June). I have engagements with my One Man Comedy Show in Norwich on 28 March, and shows in Scarborough on Sunday 6 July and 13 July. Another cruise is being negotiated, and of course the summer series of Just A Minute, the recordings of which take me all over the country.
In between, I hope to find time to take my wife Ann on a relaxing holiday, attend to my garden, and get on with the follow-up book to my autobiography.