Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

January 10, 2007

The magic of JAM

My friend Mike Lindeen made a good point about JAM in an email which I thought I might expand on a little.

What is it that sets JAM apart from other panel games and quizzes? My opinion is that it is the banter between the panellists and the arguments between them and the chairman. In most shows of this type, the chairman/quizmaster is a God-like figure and their rulings are not questioned. Rulings are questioned on JAM.

If you allow that, of course chaos can ensue. That also happens on JAM and there was a classic example on JAM this week. That too is part of the magic of JAM and what makes it different.

It would be possible to run the show strictly with a tough host and edit out any disagreement over rulings. The chairman could be totally consistent. But it would change the whole ethos and atmosphere of the programme.

I think much of Nicholas's chairmanship is a performance to instigate the banter and argument, and he has a real feel for when to keep an argument going and when to move on. It would be a totally different type of show if he wasn't prepared to be the butt of so many jokes. He is going to be very hard to replace.

I'd make another point. We at home hear things better than Nicholas does. He isn't sitting there with headphones on - so we will hear some comments better than he will as he is coping with five people sitting around him, a loud audience and the producer talking in his ear. I'm sure that was part of the confusion over the "TV - transvestite" comment - he simply didn't hear Kit the first time he said it.

Panel shows like The News Quiz and Quote Unquote and even I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue don't have wrangles over the rules. But to me they lack spontaneity too. It all sounds like it could be - and in many cases is - read from a script. If you like that, that's fine. But for me anyway, those shows are inferior to JAM.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is a great deal of logic in what you say, but its hard to reconcile this, because it seems to imply that Nicholas is actually smarter than he actually is.

it's hard to reconcile this idea in the whole concept of the show, the idea that what he does is a performance. only because I honestly don't think that Nicholas is that good of an actor, however, if what you say is true, then perhaps he's a better actor than I gave him credit for. *thinks*

I don't know, it's hard to accept this, only because in the past I've been so vehemiently critical of Nicholas on the show, Dean will attest to this, I've raged against Parsons because of damn near everything he does which I find so condescending and patronizing, and its hard to think of him as a human being because he says one thing, then does the complete opposite, keeps saying that he has to be fair within the rules and all that nonsense, it's very very difficult to reconcile these things, even though there is a great deal of logic in what you state. hmmm, perhaps I should have a good think about all this.

6:39 am  

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