Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

January 08, 2006

A top 20

Here's my all-time favourite top 20 Just A Minute performers.

20th Kit Hesketh-Harvey

Kit is a good player, I like the way he often slags the others in the course of his talking and he always seems to really enjoy the show. But I don't like the way he seems to go quiet for spells and he seems to me more of a supporting act.

19th Julian Clary

Julian is almost always good fun whenever he is talking and his outrageousness is always good fun and often very very funny. But he often seems to not fully involve himself in the game and he's been marked down a bit for that.

18th Alfred Marks

If Alfred had appeared more often, he would probably have rated higher because Alfred comes across as the complete JAM package - sharp, quick witted, full of stories. But he was perhaps not on the show often enough, or dominating enough to rate right up the top.

17th Wendy Richard

I know she's not everyone's cup of tea and she's not a genuine wit. But when Wendy's there, there's an element of dramatic tension in the air which really lifts the show. The only other one who has a similar effect is Kenneth.

16th Derek Nimmo

Perhaps you will feel I have rated Derek too low. But I have marked him down because it seems to me too often he challenges without having anything interesting to say. His best moments seem to me to be outside the actual speaking often. Still a great contributor - but you couldn't have built the show round him.

15th Tony Slattery

Do you think I should have him higher? He really is very very good on his shows. Marked down only because he really isn't a team player and that's hard on JAM if you're really not interested in anyone else being funny.

14th Tony Hawks

Tony is Mister Reliable. He always has something to say and he plays a full part in any show. But he doesn't ever seem to have the killer line that keeps you laughing again and again.

13th Sheila Hancock

I do love Sheila - she's always bubbly and feisty. But the truth is what she says on the subjects isn't always that interesting or amusing. I think I have her at about the right spot. A very good member of the team but not perhaps "one of the greats".

12th Linda Smith

Witty, wonderful, winsome. Whenever she opens her mouth, a great line is just round the corner. Only marked down for her long periods of silence.

11th Clement Freud

I do think Clement has been a vital part of the show over the years - an essential bit of gravitas, a great straight man for Kenneth and Paul. But I guess I have marked him down because he so often challenges when he hasn't got really anything to say and is just filling in time. This makes him less desirable than he would otherwise be though the show never seems quite the same without him.

10th Richard Murdoch

I have Richard in the top 10 simply because he was just perfect for the show and very funny. He was always interesting and funny whenever he spoke and he was a unique challenger - he concentrated on little words! I wish he'd been discovered sooner, he would have saved a lot of rather dull JAMs in the mid 80s.

9th Peter Cook

I've avoided people who made just one or two appearances because I think it's hard to judge people on that. There are plenty of people who were very funny once, but wouldn't have been successful again and again. But I make an exception for Cookie just because he was so damn funny in his few appearances and I can't believe he wouldn't have been just as good had he appeared more frequently.

8th Jenny Eclair

Perhaps you will be surprised I have Jenny so high but she always has something funny to say and she seems to really get into the game even if she isn't that good about it. We could do with more of her.

7th Aimi Macdonald

Perhaps you will be surprised I have Aimi so high. But you know in a way Aimi was the focus of most shows she appeared in, just through force of her wonderful personality. Any show in which she starred was a success and delightfully silly. A perfect foil for the big mouths around her. Still missed.

6th Stephen Fry

You won't be surprised to see I rate Stephen so highly. He's a master of repartee, he's a genuine wit and he's never lost for anything to say. And he involves himself in what's happening. If he appeared more frequently he could be higher still.

5th Graham Norton

Graham is so often very very funny. Only marked down a little because just sometimes he doesn't involve himself enough.

4th Ross Noble

Inventive, always coming up with the unexpected, a unique style but still wonderfully suited to JAM. He just keeps getting better.

3rd Peter Jones

Peter is always funny whenever he speaks, his repartee is arguably the wittiest of anyone on the show. He graced us by his presence and it's only the fact that he had periods of silence that was a failing.

2nd Paul Merton

Paul is a supremely talented player of the game. He is always funny, he is always a big part of a show, he is quite capable of rescuing a dull team. And he is very much in the tradition of the show with his ability to follow up the comments of others and make them into a running joke - the sort of thing which gives a show some flow. The reigning King of JAM. Not as good as Kenneth. But i think there was still daylight between him and Peter in third place.

1st Kenneth Williams

supremely funny and almost uniquely there is an amazing dramatic tension around him that gives a unique element to his shows. When he's on you're always waiting for him - to give one of his performances, to flirt, to throw a tantrum, to take over and become the focus of attention. Irreplaceable.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, a Top 20! Quite an ambitious undertaking, I shall have to think about this at some length. However, a couple of early comments I feel must be made!

First I must state that I am a 'Merton-era' fan (as opposed to Williams-era) and as such would always place P.M. at number one. I don't believe K.W. ranks so highly due to his often difficult to catch delivery and the practice of feeding him pre-arranged subjects which became obvious and often boring in later years. I would probably place Clement Freud at number 2 and Peter Jones also above K.W. I could talk at great length about why these two would appear in my own top 20 above K.W. but having never commented on a Blog before I'm not sure this isn't already becoming too long!

So, my main point here is to make a plea for the inclusion of Charles Collingwood. Not that many shows under his belt, BUT I beg you to examine the quality of the shows he has been involved in, especially the fantastic pair on his debut at Wimbledon (possibly the best double recording ever?).... How about a Top 20 episodes?

2:08 am  
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