Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

June 13, 2006

Linda Smith tribute

Jen was in the audience - here's her description of the show

Jo Brand kicked off the evening by arriving on stage about 10 seconds after she was announced to a massive round of applause. As compere, she reappeared throughout the night with jokes, banter, and of course, anecdotes about Linda. At one point, when Jo was talking about when she spoke at a Labour rally, there was a sudden loud crack from the sound system, which Jo took to be a sign of Linda showing her disapproval, as she detested Tony Blair. This turned into a running gag, along with her flirting with a fat stage assistant, asking if they could make a "double bouncy castle"!

Just A Minute - hosted by Nicholas Parsons with panellists Paul Merton, Jeremy Hardy, Liza Tarbuck and Chris Neill (produced by Clare Jones) *
It started just as the only other JAM I've been to did, in that Nicholas' microphone didn't work. But, seasoned professional that he is, a host without sound isn't an issue... as soon as Paul had established that his microphone worked, he announced "Nicholas, there's a reason we can't hear you...we meant to discuss it with you before the show...", and then Nicholas had to swap his microphone for Janet Staplehurst's, which he pointed out was ironic because she doesn't speak.
The first round "What people like about radio 4" was given to Paul, who carried on the joke by talking about it's immaculate sound engineering.
Liza took "getting on the right side of the audience" and claimed that this could be done by talking about Nicholas' childhood, and how he had the "looks of an angel". Obviously, she was interrupted for deviation (by Chris), and as Nicholas couldn't judge, he asked the audience. I was amongst the many who shouted "yes" to whether or not he had these looks, and so Paul told us we were cruel for "bewildering an old man".
Jeremy was very deliberately given "My talent as a singer", which got a huge laugh from fellow "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" listeners. He said that "tune & pitch are like friends that I haven't met yet", and you can't really argue with that! But eventually, someone did challenge, so Jeremy staged a protest and walked off... then back on again. The end of the round finished in chaos as Paul wandered around looking for a phone that was going off, and found it on the speaker... it was later revealed that it belonged to the fat stagehand who Jo Brand had been flirting with!
The last round was obviously for Linda "Why we should all be humanists". Jeremy described the humanist belief in no god, but he believed "there is a god and he's just shit". To say this, he had repeated "god", so got challenged on "too many gods"...to which he replied "no, there is one god!".
At some point, Janet was described as Nicholas' nurse, which led to the usual "you've got visitors, Nicholas" routine!
Paul won, as usual, but did what other reviews have described as a lap of honour, which Nicholas said Paul had always wanted to do, and you could see that in his face. It was a good game with an unusual mix of panellists, I thought. And, of course, memorable to see Janet Staplehurst blowing the whistle for what was probably the last time.

News Quiz - hosted by Simon Hoggart with panellists Andy Hamilton, Phill Jupitus, Sandi Toksvig and Jeremy Hardy (produced by Katie Tyrell)
More sound trouble for the host, when Simon Hoggart had to share Charlotte Green's microphone, leaning over Janet Staplehurst to do so! The game itself was dominated by Phill talking about the Paul McCartney/Heather Mills situation, saying "if you will fuck a pirate...". From where I was sat, Sandi & Jeremy were blocked from my view by a speaker, but at this, they leant forward, almost head on desk, with Sandi saying "you can't say that", yet laughing... which was everyone else's reaction! Phill then said this was the type of bit they normally edit out, and why he wasn't asked back very often! Each panellist got one question each, and Sandi's referred to an accidental house fire caused by a child, so she went on to give advice about having children, including "never have more children than you have car windows".
Simon Hoggart, hosing for presumably the last time, said "the scores at the end of the game...who cares?!"
Memorable headline: "Family planning clinic: use rear entrance"

I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue - hosted by Humprey Lyttleton with panellists Jeremy Hardy, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Barry Cryer (produced by John Naismith)
Jeremy's singing voice came in for more criticism when he had to sing "Teenage Kicks" to the tune of "Jerusalem". It really is a shame that won't go out on radio! Barry also swayed with his lighter to Graeme's song. He was also having to sing into Barry's microphone as he had been given the faulty microphone that Nicholas Parsons and Simon Hoggart had had.
In the "New Definitions" round, Tim gave a sweet little tribute to Linda by saying "Wordsmith: the lovely Linda".
In pensioners' songbook, Jeremy Hardy said "Don't Go Breaking My Hip" and "Stayin' Alive".

Arthur Smith
He told the story of how his grandfather had trodden the boards at the Victoria Palace Theatre, just as he was doing now, followed by an unrepeatable joke (which Linda had told him), a poem, followed by an article he'd written about Linda, including a story about her beating off many younger people to be crowned "last person on the dancefloor" at his birthday party a few years back. He said his job was to come out, say a few words, introduce Just A Minute and fuck off!

Mark Steel
He spoke about Linda's humanist beliefs, joking how he "hoped she wasn't looking down on us saying "call the benefit off, god exists...". If he does, after these jokes I'm fucked...but then, you (to audience) laughed at them, and he'd know!".

Hattie Hayridge
She spoke about what it was like, in the male-dominated world of stand-up, to have two women, her and Linda, working together at times, having to synchronise periods...

Mark Thomas
He told his story about going into an arms fair, which was both entertaining and linked to Linda's negative opinion on the war in Iraq.

Sandi Russell & Trio
They performed three songs, including "My Favourite Things", which I presume was an echo to the title of "An Evening Of Linda Smith's Favourite Things"

Humphrey Lyttleton & Quintet
More of the jazz that Linda loved, with Humphrey Lyttleton being as entertaining as on "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue", doing ridiculous actions to the lyrics.

Steve Gribbin, Richard Morton & Skint Video
Steve, initially on his own, "rocked the Victoria Palace Theatre" by singing songs about Richard Branson, John Prescott & The British Test. He was then joined by the other two members of Skint Video for a reunion, which Richard Morton said should now be called "Skint DVD" to bring it up to date.

Barry Cryer & Ronnie Golden
Sang their song "Peace And Quiet" (with Barry reading his own lyrics off a piece of paper, saying he could never remember them), as Linda had liked it. It gradually got louder and louder until one by one, the whole theatre got the joke!

Warren Lakin
Introduced by Jo Brand as "Linda's long term gentleman caller", Warren Lakin came on to thank everyone who had had anything to do with the show, and also "Linda's very own Radio 4 Barmy Army". He introduced the Blockheads as Linda's favourite band.

Phill Jupitus & The Blockheads
Phill took the late Ian Dury's place as lead singer, and did "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick", "Wake Up And Make Love With Me" & "Billericay Dickie" before Phill introduced Andy Hamilton's amazing idea of who would be singing the final song. Murmurs of "Jeremy Hardy" went round, so everyone was surprised when it was the straight-laced & proper Radio 4 continuity announcers.
Charlotte Green, Corrie Corfield, Peter Donaldson & Brain Perkins took to the stage to sing "Sex And Drugs And Rock n Roll", conducted by Phill Jupitus to keep them in time. After a while, the stage was crashed by the rest of the cast, Jeremy Hardy & Mark Steel taking to a microphone and the rest, particularly Paul Merton dancing like maniacs. A memorable and unique finale to a wonderful night, tribute to a wonderful life well lived. The standing ovation and wild applause from both the audience and the performers with one thing in common...we all miss Linda Smith.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for providing this description. I just listened to the half-hour Radio 7 highlights of the event and it was quite hard to follow what was going on. Your description really helped flesh it out.

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