One Minute Please



Roy Plomley (1951-2)

Michael Jackson (1957)


BBC Light Programme, 26 August 1951 to 21 September 1952

BBC Light Programme, 13 August to 19 November 1957


The forerunner of Just a Minute, this was played in a very similar fashion but with two teams of three - ladies versus gentlemen - instead of four individual panellists. It also had an "appeals panel" of members of the public.

Ian Messiter described his inspiration in a radio interview: "Well, it came from school. I was looking out of the window. Suddenly the cane came down on my desk, like thunder - it was quite the most extraordinary noise, like a gun going off. The master in charge said 'Messiter, stand up! Would you repeat what I've been saying without repeating yourself?'"

One of its most famous contributors was Gerard Hoffnung, a humourist, cartoonist and tuba player, who sadly died at an early age due to a brain haemorrhage. Other regulars included actress Yvonne Arnaud, Frank Muir, Denis Norden, Gilbert Harding (once thrown off the show for being drunk), and Windmill girl Margot Holden.


This was the first British quiz format to be sold in the USA.

The 1957 series is Michael Jackson's only major British broadcasting credit; born in Britain, he'd only just arrived back here after starting his career in South Africa and would soon emigrate to the US where he became an acclaimed talk radio host. So acclaimed, in fact, that he was inducted into the US Radio Hall of Fame in 2003 and even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One incredibly minor though intriguing item on his resumé was that in 1990 he hosted a US pilot episode of Countdown which was never aired and never picked up for a series, though you can find it on YouTube.


Ian Messiter


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