Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

October 24, 2008

first JAM recording of the season

was at London and featured Paul Merton, Graham Norton, Charles Collingwood and Shappi Khorsandi.

Correspondent Ewen Moore sent this description. Thank you very much Ewen for such a great account of the night!

I thought you might be interested to know that on Saturday 17th I finally achieved a long-held ambition and attended a JAM recording - the first, I think, for the upcoming winter season. I was arriving home that morning from a holiday in your homeland of New Zealand so knew I would be somewhat jet lagged but wasn't going to let that stand in the way of this opportunity.

The recording was at the Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House - the first of 3 recordings (6 episodes?) to be held there for this season - Nicholas commented in the introduction how it was nice to be back there after quite a while away. Maybe they're recording a lot in London this season because it's winter? I'm quite pleased, actually, because it probably makes it easier to get better panellists. I agree with you that last season suffered somewhat from too many new/inexperienced players.

Anyway, after a wait outside Broadcasting House, where a police car pulled up and asked what we were all waiting to see (they seemed somewhat bemused by the reply) we made it in and took our seats. The first slightly odd thing was that the producer was (I think…) Claire Jones and definitely not Tilusha Ghelani. I'm not sure why Claire Jones has returned? Anyway, she introduced Nicholas, who came on looking every bit the showman and in surprisingly good shape for his age. He's definitely of the old school of showbiz - a real old fashioned entertainer who seems to come alive when he's in front of the audience. He welcomed us and introduced the panel for the two recordings - regulars Paul Merton and Graham Norton and two more surprising guests - Charles Collingwood (returning after a bit of an absence) and Shappi Khorsandi, who, like you, I wasn't necessarily expecting to return for another shot. I was extremely pleased to see Charles - he's one of my favourite 'minor' players and I'd been a bit worried that people like him were being phased out in favour of 'trendier' faces. He is quite gentle and surreal and reminds me quite a lot of Peter Jones. Shappi was surprisingly good - she's definitely starting to get the hang of it and I wouldn't be surprised if she starts to become quite a regular player over the years. She struggled against Paul and Graham's lightning wit and on-the-ball challenges but fought fiercely and was also thoroughly endearing, definitely winning audience support! In the second recording she particularly started to get the hang of things. The second recording was actually the better of the two as all four players seemed thoroughly warmed up by then and Charles also made a much more dramatic contribution than in the first recording - even getting up in mock anger at one point and threatening to walk out, during a round on 'clubbing' where Paul and Graham were implying that he spent his spare time hanging around outside nightclubs trying to pick up young girls!

I think the second recording will be the first to be broadcast - it was a Christmas/New Year show and is due to go out on Monday 29th December - and featured rounds such as 'what I got for Christmas' (which Nicholas changed to 'what I was given for Christmas' in a protest against the poor standard of English) and 'my new year's resolutions'. There was quite a lot of humour derived from the fact that, of course, Christmas is still several months away. There was also quite a lot of humour coming from the fact that (apparently) the tables were set up further apart than normal and Nicholas couldn't quite hear what the contestants were saying, which made his job rather difficult! Claire Jones offered, between the two recordings, to have everything repositioned but Nicholas declined, saying that it would be too much hassle for everyone.

I enjoyed seeing how well Nicholas worked the audience and how much warmth and camaraderie there was between everyone on the stage - how they seemed pleased to have Charles Collingwood back, how they looked out for Shappi Khorsandi, whilst still being competitive… needless to say, Paul won both games although it seemed to me he wasn't quite on top form - he seemed to be coasting somewhat. Graham was probably the funniest contributor to the shows.

They're back recording in the Radio Theatre on November 1st although they couldn't tell us who the panellists would be. I'm hoping they manage to get Stephen Fry as I always enjoy a show when he's on and he might be able to do it given it's in Broadcasting House. Anyway, I thought you would enjoy this preview of the forthcoming season and please feel free to use any of it in your blog. Thanks for the great site - keep up the excellent work!


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