Nicholas's daughter writes
Suzy Parsons wrote this very nice piece for The Express
JAM AND NAAN BREAD FOR TEA..?
NO MATTER where you are in the world you can never escape my father, he pops up in the most unlikely places! Most recently, had you been making a trip to the Comedy Store in Mumbai (as you do) you would have had the surreal experience of seeing not only my father but also Paul Merton and Marcus Brigstocke recording Just A Minute, along with Indian comedians Cyrus Broacha and Anuvab Pal.
I suppose after 45 years, nothing should surprise me.
I grew up with Just A Minute as familiar as a member of the family, indeed some of the original cast were like family. My father, mother, brother and I lived in Hampstead, on the edge of the heath. Every Sunday when the programme was transmitted, at 12.30 precisely, my father would come rushing in from gardening (a huge passion of his) covered in soil, careful not to leave muddy footprints on the carpet and turn on the radio to listen to the show. Absolute silence was required as he would sit, ear close to his beloved Roberts radio, and listen to the programme. He used to say he had to concentrate so hard during the actual recording he could never enjoy it properly until he listened to the transmission. Then we would have lunch. My brother says the smell of Sunday lunch still reminds him of Just A Minute.
It’s particularly comforting to know that in a world of high-tech special effects, reality TV and innumerable “talent” shows, a good old-fashioned programme like Just A Minute not only survives but is increasing in popularity. Perhaps that’s it, no gimmicks, no autocues, no glitz, rather a simple format executed by a variety of genuinely talented performers. That and the mainstays of the theme music, Chopin’s The Minute Waltz, and my father, are central ingredients which have not changed in all but half a century.
Perhaps that’s it, no gimmicks, no autocues, no glitz
On reflection, I can see Just A Minute is rather like my father; they both retain their sparkle despite their great age. moving seamlessly through the decades, both remain up to date with current affairs, are funny, talented and always entertaining but most of all, they have held on to their integrity.
It is lovely to see that something as good as Just A Minute is now growing into something even bigger; not only with recordings in India but also moving on to our television screens.
The story of how the Mumbai recordings came about is interesting. Slightly more than two years ago my father was in Bangalore, making a programme for Radio 4 about quizzing in India (quiz shows are extraordinarily popular there). The Indians seem to love most things British, particularly comedy and games. While in Bangalore, my father discovered Jaming.
Remove the picture of my father dancing to Bob Marley, tempting as it is. JAM is an Indian version of Just A Minute! Not for professional comedians and certainly not recorded, there are JAM clubs all over India. Six or seven players get together with a JAM Master who will give them a subject to talk about. These can be weird and convoluted. My father remembers one subject vividly: “My girlfriend said because you haven’t done the garden, you can’t come to bed with me tonight!” (Obviously not a problem my father, the avid horticulturist, would encounter).
Thereafter ensues an absolutely unstructured and often quite mad game of JAMING. The challenges are most often invented; forget repetition, hesitation and deviation and in their place are likely to be: “That’s not true!” or “You said that last week!” My father described it as “enthusiastic, happy chaos”.
So taken was he with these JAM clubs that he told Tilusha Ghelani, the producer of Just A Minute, all about them. She thought it would be wonderful to make a radio documentary about JAMING in India so in January, my father and Tilusha went to Bangalore for the JAM Championships. After that they flew to Mumbai to record a “proper” Just A Minute for Britain’s listeners.
My father pronounced the recordings as “a joy to do”.
I asked my father: “So Daddy, what’s next?” “We proved the show travels,” he said, “why not America?”