Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

February 06, 2007

In praise of gravitas

The Independent's media columnist Matthew Norman mentions JAM this week. He says

Very good to hear Sir Tim Rice pop up on Just a Minute. For years this show has been far too dependent on guests with some capacity to amuse. The odd appearance in what's known within BBC radio as "the Stilgoe Slot" for a portly stalwart of the Lord's Taverners, with a range of cricketing anecdotes that could stun a charging rhino into a stupor, lends balance and gravitas.

Putting aside the sarcastic note on Tim's ability, I strongly agree that it's good to have someone on the show who isn't a comedian. Clement in particular, but also Tim Rice, does add some balance and gravitas. When Clement retires from the show, they are going to miss that element, and it may well be that at that point Tim appears a lot more often.

Of course though, whoever is on has to have "some capacity to amuse" and both Tim and Clement can be very witty. I am trying to think of whether there has been anyone on JAM who didn't even try to be amusing. The only one I can think of is Dr Magnus Pyke who took all of his subjects and challenges very seriously, but was amusing to listen to because of his eccentricities. Yet his shows are real favourites among JAM fans and rightly so. Patrick Moore did try and be funny at times, I think.

My friend Keith reckons JAM would be better with more people like these on the show, but I'm not so sure. Could whoever is today's version of Magnus Pyke in any way compete with Paul and Graham? Wouldn't they just be humiliated?


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