Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

February 04, 2007

The women of Just A Minute

This month marks a very sad anniversary - a year since the untimely, far too early passing of Linda Smith. She died on February 27, 2006.

Those interested can find lots of tributes at the time in the blog - look at early March 2006, and also the blog has frequent mentions of the concerts and book on Linda that have been published since. It's been a year where she has been very much missed from JAM and her other shows. How unfair that such a comedic talent should have died so young.

Obviously JAM wasn't the most important part of Linda's life, but JAM hasn't been an easy programme for the female of the species, and no-one has yet stood up to claim Linda's title of the regular woman panellist on the show.

One of my favourite writers is Christopher Hitchens - a couple of months ago he wrote this article for Vanity Fair, arguing that women aren't funny. (You can see it debated here on the BBC current affairs programme Newsnight with Christopher, Jeremy Paxman and Ruby Wax.) I think if Christopher was a JAM fan, he might change his mind.

Anyway - I was thinking about how I could pay tribute to Linda and have decided to devote this month to the women of Just A Minute. Every few days I'll post an essay on one of the Queens of the programme, ending, hopefully on February 27th, with my tribute to Linda.

So any fans of Sheila Hancock, Andree Melly, Wendy Richard, Aimi Macdonald, Jenny Eclair, Geraldine Jones, Sue Perkins and of course Linda - feel free to post in the comments or email me with your thoughts on any of these great women - favourite moments, tributes, anything you like - and I'll try to incorporate them into the essays.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah yes, the women of JAM. you know i think its terribly unfair that more often than not there's never more than one woman on the show wheras the panel is always dominated by men. I mean there have only been a few times when it was close to an all female panel, and it happened not on the radio version, but on the Television version.

anyway, I've always had a soft spot for the ladies who've appeared on the program, because sometimes it can be terribly difficult to keep your end up against the men, and most of the time the women that appear don't make much of an impact, but there are a select few that hold the distinction of being intelligent, clever, and just a joy to hear on the program. amongst those names are Aimi MacDonald, Gerladine Jones, Andree Melly, Sheila Hancock, Wendy Richard, Maria McErlane, Sue Perkins, Liza Tarbuck, Pam Ayers and Jenny Eclair. there are a few others, but i'll get to them later.

anyway, sometimes I find it such a shame that the balances are never redressed to feature more women at one time on the panel. if you listen to the early days, you also notice just how difficult it was for a woman to get a word in edgeways, especially with the likes of Kenneth Williams constantly shouting and screaming 'we should never have women on the show', it's no wonder not a lot of women want to come back.

but I do think its high time that these women are given the respect that is due to them, cuz surely the fact that they had to be thrust into the lion's den when not even the chairman will give you any help, and even when he does its in a very patronizing and condescending fashion, all to make the poor ladies look and feel like idiots even when they're being far more clever than the fellas.

6:05 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"sometimes it can be terribly difficult to keep your end up against the men"

Are you auditioning to be a gag writer for Julian Clary?

10:20 am  

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