'Just a Minute' is my favourite Radio 4 programme. Hosted by the ageless (well almost 90 actually) Nicholas Parsons the simple format requires each of the four panelists to speak for one minute on a given subject without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Simple yet very difficult when put to it. At any infringement of the rules others will jump in and collect a point, if correct, and often huge hilarity does come about.
Today however saw yet another attempt to transfer this long running show to television. During the forty five years since it first began, in 1967 before I was born you understand, there have been occasional short lived TV adaptations, none of which have worked. It took just a minute to realise that once more it will fail! The whole power of the game lies in the spoken word, and television looks for image, not words. The gimmick on this occasion, to enliven the programme for stupid people, was to keep the camera constantly moving slowly as the panelist spoke. Worse still was that other needlessly annoying habit of closing slowly into the speakers face until we are right up their nose! Not something we do in the normal conversations we have I believe.
I couldn't look! Instead I played a solitaire game, not easy on this laptop, there again nothing is easy on this brute, and listened while they made their hesitant way to completion of the programme. Indeed there were good moments, although heightening the laughter needlessly as TV does was not one of them, but this is a standard for radio programmes, and will not succeed on TV until TV people consider the viewer rather than their trendy ideas. The image, and the trendy fashion of the day, concerns TV people far too much. The last thing they care about is the viewer. Return the programme to the radio please, and another blessing is we don't have to look at Sue Perkins either!