Just A Minute – Cheltenham Literature Festival REVIEW

If the words “Without hesitation, deviation or repetition…” make your heart strings twang and your mind goes to the national treasure Nicholas Parsons then this is a review for you. The legendary presenter graced the Cheltenham Literature Festival with his presence along with a panel of writers and comedians, to bring us a whole jam packed hour of pure Just A Minute fun.

The BBC 4 Radio game show started just 3 months into the channels creation in 1967 and since then Nicholas Parsons has presented the flagship show and continues to do so at the ripe age of 94. He was as sharp as ever, keeping track of the points and making sure the contestants stay in line. He opened with “Aren’t you all lovely?” and I felt the entire audience’s urge to reply with “SO ARE YOU!”

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The panel consisted of writer, broadcaster and regular on Just A Minute, Pam Ayres, journalist and presenter Paul Blezard, scriptwriter for radio and tv and comedian John Finnemore and Gloucestershire based writer and author Felix Francis. Teamed with Nicholas Parsons and a JAM first, his wife Ann Reynolds, who was holding the show together with her trusty score sheet and stopwatch. Side note – Nicholas was overly adorable to his wife, making him even more of a sweetheart than before.

With topics ranging from Optimism to Fish Fingers and everything in between, the hour flew by keeping things fast moving with speedy rounds and expert players. All four players had a wonderfully weird cornucopia of knowledge which made for incredibly interesting rounds.

After 50 years and 900 episodes it was an absolute honour for Cheltenham to host an episode of the show. It is iconically British, old school fun that nobody can disagree with or not chuckle to. Entertainment at its purest…

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