Games people play without hesitation, repetition or deviation

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Ian Messiter, 77, inventor of `Just a Minute', `Many a Slip' and other games

Games come to me quite easily compared with other things. I can always invent a game if I have to. Just a Minute began at school in an English lesson. The master pointed at me and said: "Messiter, stand up. Tell me what I've been saying for the last minute." Then he whacked me. I thought at the time that it would make a good game - all the awful things in my life have been turned into fun.

Games are only as good as the people who play them. The funniest person I ever had on the panel was an actress called Margo Holden. She had a voice like an eight-year-old child and she never knew what she was talking about. I'd say: "You were very funny this evening," and she'd say: "Oh, was I? I'm sorry."

On Many a Slip, the chairman would read out paragraphs with factual, historical or grammatical errors, and the team would buzz if they thought they'd heard a mistake.

My fascination with language must have come from my father. He was a great one for absolute clarity, and he wouldn't let me use a word that was wrong or out of context.

Oddly enough, I didn't have a favourite game when I was little. Happy Families was the only thing I played. I'm not a competitive person, but competitiveness can be a good thing if you've got a humorous team who take it seriously. Taking part is more important, though I've noticed that people do like to win.

The elements of a good game are that it should be friendly and fun. It needs to be fairly clever. If it's stupid, people won't bother with it. Also it should contain information that they didn't know before. That's about all. And no rude words.

`Just a Minute' (speak for a minute on a given topic without deviation, hesitation, repetition, saying `I' or using one of the prohibited words) will be in the shops next month. Made by Paul Lamond Games, price: pounds 14.99- pounds 15.99.

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