He could make the most shocking remarks with a casual shrug.
Asked to recite a limerick, he declaimed: ‘There was an old poof of Khartoum/ Who took a lesbian up to his room/ They lay on the bed/ And suddenly said/ ‘Who does what, and with what, to whom? He would drop snippets of Old English into his monologues, and half a dozen other languages, bamboozling the other players.
A correct challenge earns a point, and the challenger must take over the subject.
Lyricist Tim Rice, raconteur Gyles Brandreth and chatshow host Graham Norton are among the few who have been invited back dozens of times.Gyles Brandreth claimed Nimmo would employ a footman in knee-breeches to bring him drinks, in the ‘green room’ after recording, while the others drank warm white wine from paper cups.The show’s original producer, David Hatch, was famous for firing off long memos to performers (known as Hatchlets).He would be the last to burst onto the stage, gurning at fans and ‘sticking his bum out,’ as Parsons put it, to whip up cheap laughs. ’ He also treated female guests savagely, especially comedienne Aimi Mac Donald.Listeners could see none of this, but they could hear the hysterical reaction. Williams loved to put off his fellow players, sometimes by interrupting to shriek and sneer at them, and sometimes by his antics. ‘We should never have allowed women on this show,’ he would wail.Just A Minute has become one of the nation’s most beloved radio shows — but it began as a classroom humiliation, inflicted on daydreamers by a history teacher at Sherborne School in the Thirties.A schoolboy called Ian Messiter was hauled before the class and ordered to repeat everything he had learned during the previous minute, without repeating himself or hesitating. Years later, Messiter remembered the punishment and used it as the basis for radio show One Minute Please, which ran from 1951 to 1957 with Desert Island Discs presenter Roy Plomley as the chairman.JAM, as its millions of fans now call it, really started to work after Carry On star Kenneth Williams joined for the second series in 1968.It stopped being a stilted party game and turned into an outrageous performance.The Crown Prince of the show, Kenneth Williams, loved to put off his fellow players, sometimes interrupting to shriek and sneer at them.His death in 1988 threatened to bring down the curtain on Just A Minute Before every recording (as Nicholas Parsons told me in an interview), the Crown Prince of Just A Minute, Kenneth Williams, would wind himself up to a state of nervous excitement.