22 December AD 69

After defeat by the forces of Vespasian, Emperor Vitellius was executed in Rome. One account says his corpse was tossed into the Tiber, another that his head was paraded round the city.


22 December 1807

The US Congress passes the Embargo Act, severely restricting foreign trade.

22 December 1938

While examining the catch of a local fisherman, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, curator of a small museum in East London, South Africa, discovers what turns out to be a coelacanth, a fish believed to have been extinct for millions of years.

22 December 1960

Scottish church architect Sir John Ninian Comper died, aged 96. His ashes are buried in the north aisle of Westminster Abbey, beneath the windows he had designed.

22 December 1967

As the sound of Chopin's Minute Waltz – played at breakneck speed by Artur Rubinstein – faded away, the first edition of Just a Minute began. Chairman Nicholas Parsons explained the rules of the comedy game show, in which contestants had to speak for a minute without hesitating, deviating or repeating themselves. He introduced regulars Clement Freud and Derek Nimmo, and guests Beryl Reid and Wilma Ewart. Just a Minute was devised by Ian Messiter, after he was told off at school and asked to repeat what his master had been saying for the previous minute, without repetition or hesitation. The programme has thrived for over 40 years, reinvigorated with each generation of comedians, including Peter Jones, Kenneth Williams, Linda Smith, Paul Merton, Ross Noble, Stephen Fry, and Graham Norton. Tickets for recordings are in such demand that they are allocated by ballot.

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22 December 1981

Following a coup which ousted his predecessor, Roberto Viola, General Leopoldo Galtieri became president of Argentina. Six months later, following his country's defeat in the Falklands conflict, he was removed from office.

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