Following the sad news that the brilliant Nicholas Parsons has passed away at the grand old age of 96, I saw a tweet summarising the various short-lived attempts to bring his seminal Just A Minute to television. Despite it obviously being a BBC show, there were two series produced by Carlton for ITV in the mid-90s, and just one glimpse of that garish, neon-adorned set triggered a vivid childhood memory of watching an episode starring none other than Craig Charles. I looked it up and it turns out that memory is indeed accurate; he appeared once, alongside team captain and fellow Dwarf alumnus Tony Slattery, on 21st July 1995.
And that episode is… seemingly not online anywhere. Bah. Still, a handful of editions are on YouTube, including one from the first series that features not only the aforementioned Slattery, but also one time pub manager Arthur Smith, alongside a very young Graham Norton and Ann Bryson. Sod it, two guest stars is enough of a Red Dwarf connection to justify us featuring this, in tribute to its wonderful chairman.
Incidentally, while searching for the Craig Charles episode, I found this beautiful relic of a bygone internet age: a lovingly put together and wonderfully detailed Just A Minute fansite. Its owner, identified only as Dean, presumably in the style of Madonna or Prince, has gone and above and beyond the call of duty to fully transcribe hundreds of editions of the programme, including Craig’s. How brilliant that there’s still some way to enjoy his appearance; without this transcript, we wouldn’t have known how Tony Slattery chose to introduce his teammate:
Hello, and tonight I have with me a poet, comedian and television presenter, best known as Dave Lister in the wildly successful situation comedy Red Dwarf. He turned down a part in Porridge especially to be with us today. Would you please welcome back into the community: Craig Charles.
Bearing in mind this was 1995, and a light-hearted panel game on daytime ITV, that’s admirably ballsy.