Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

January 31, 2008

JAM guest Jeremy Beadle dies

Jeremy appeared on two JAMs in 1983, once with Sir Clement Freud, Kenneth Williams and Peter Jones, and later in the year with Clement, Kenneth and Aimi Macdonald. He won one of his two shows.

He was a huge name in British TV at the time.

An obit from The Independent

Jeremy Beadle, king of the TV practical jokers, dies aged 59

By James Macintyre
Thursday, 31 January 2008

Jeremy Beadle, the quiz-master and king of the televised practical joke in ITV's Beadle's About and You've Been Framed, has died of pneumonia while suffering from leukaemia. He was 59.

A trivia expert, he also entertained readers of The Independent Magazine on Saturdays with his testing questions. He leaves his wife, Sue, his daughters Cassie and Bonnie, and stepchildren Leo and Claire.

Beadle was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2005, 10 months after having a tumour removed from his kidney. Last week reports emerged that he was gravely ill with pneumonia.

His agent, Nick Canham, said: "Our heartfelt condolences go to his family. He will be greatly missed."

Beadle was born in Hackney, east London, on 12 April 1948, in difficult circumstances. The first two years of his life were spent in and out of hospital as he underwent surgery for Poland syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which stunted growth in his right hand, a condition for which he was mocked by hostile sections of the media in later life.

His father had left his mother when learning that she was pregnant with Jeremy. He refused ever to seek a meeting with his father. In a 2001 interview with The Independent, he said: "People find it very, very difficult to understand... [but it] would be incredibly selfish of me to go out and talk to a total stranger. I actually think it would have almost been a slap to my mum. She gave me the love that I needed, the inspiration, the protection and the important things."

With his mother working as a secretary to make ends meet – his father provided no money – Jeremy got into trouble at school and was expelled. He took up a number of adventurous jobs, at one point taking photographs of topless models. Eventually he made it into writing for radio and television, going on to provide material for stars such as Terry Wogan, Noel Edmonds and Kenny Everett.

But Beadle found fame in his own right fronting the LWT prank shows which attracted millions of viewers from 1987 to 1996. Horrified victims would look on as their car was apparently destroyed or their shop supposedly wrecked, before a grinning Beadle would emerge to howls of laughter all round.

Although his mischievous public image was as derided by some as it was loved by others, Beadle was also a significant fundraiser for many charities, including Children with Leukaemia, long before he was diagnosed with the disease. He is believed to have raised more than £100m for good causes. Beadle was a Trust Patron of The Philip Green Memorial Trust, and he annually hosted a quiz party along with Crown Prince Shwebomin of Burma to raise money for children.

Beadle was recognised with an OBE in 2001. In his Independent interview, he said: "I was quite moved to be honest. My eyes welled up. I've always done charity stuff for my own reasons, and quite selfish reasons. I like to make a difference. It's very easy just to sit back and feel sorry. Well, I hate that, I hate pity. So I turn it into something very positive. It's very selfish. It's actually stopping me from feeling pity."

Throughout his life he pursued his love of trivia, writing Today's the Day and A Chronicle of the Curious as well as contributing to the highly successful Book of Lists and People's Almanac. He was also director of Britain's largest supplier of pub quizzes, Redtooth.

He was the writer and host of the notoriously difficult media quiz at The Atlantic Bar and Grill, attended by celebrities including Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross.

Diagnosed with cancer in 2005, he refused to stop working, and as recently as last autumn released three new books.

An obit from The Guardian

Veteran TV joker Jeremy Beadle dies of pneumonia, aged 59
* Martin Hodgson

Jeremy Beadle, the television personality best known for Beadle's About and You've Been Framed, has died of pneumonia, aged 59, his agent said yesterday.

Beadle, who previously fought leukaemia, was admitted to hospital earlier this week. His agent, Nick Canham, said: "Our heartfelt condolences go to his wife, Sue, his two daughters, Cassie and Bonnie, and his stepchildren, Leo and Claire."

A veteran of Saturday night television for many years, Beadle regularly pulled in audiences of more than 15 million with his shows featuring a hidden camera filming pranks and home video pratfalls

Henry Kelly, one of his co-presenters on the 1980s show Game for a Laugh, said: "I shall miss him desperately. Not only was he a terrific colleague, but he was a most wonderful friend and the most entertaining company you could imagine."

Beadle was born in Hackney, east London, the result of an affair between his mother and a newspaper journalist he never met. After school, he worked as an insurance clerk, music festival promoter, advertising salesman and assembly line worker. He wrote material for the comedian Bob Monkhouse, boosting his income with minicab driving until he secured a radio show called Beadle's Bookshelf.

His television career began as a writer and presenter of The Deceivers, a BBC2 history of swindlers and hoaxers, and Eureka, which told the stories behind everyday inventions.

After the BBC turned down a format called Gotcha!, he took its practical joking element to LWT's Game for a Laugh, which established him as Britain's king of the practical joke. The show ran for five years and was followed by another hidden camera show, Beadle's About.

In his most famous stunt, he staged a UFO landing in a Dorset garden. So convincing was the hoax that the home's owner, Janet Elford, invited the supposed alien pilot inside for a cup of tea. "The scale was huge," Beadle told Channel 4 in 2005. "We literally cut off half of Dorset."

In 1990, he launched You've been Framed, which featured viewers' disastrous home videos. Sometimes criticised as the epitome of tacky TV, he remained philosophical about his love-hate relationship with the viewers. "I think people are guilty about enjoying the cruelty of comedy which is always at someone else's expense," he told the Sunday Times.

Beadle raised funds for Children with Leukaemia and is estimated to have generated more than £100m for the charity, for which he was made a MBE in 2001.

In recent years, Beadle had been plagued by ill health, losing a kidney to cancer in 2004. A year later he was diagnosed with leukaemia, but he shrugged off the illness, saying it was "business as usual".

Prankster's highs

· In the early 80s Game for a Laugh inflicted the practical jokes pioneered by the US show Candid Camera on the British public and helped to usher in reality TV

· In Beadle's About, Beadle presided over the apparent anarchy, often disguised as a policeman, before revealing the prank and his identity

· You've Been Framed began in 1990 and is still going strong. It cashed in on the boom in home video cameras

An obit from the Telegraph

Jeremy Beadle made you laugh at yourself

By Alec Lom

He was responsible for some of the most mischievous yet popular programmes in British television history.

But according to those who knew him best Jeremy Beadle was one of the kindest men to work in broadcasting.

The shows that made him a household name, You've Been Framed and Beadle's About, used the hapless blunders of members of the public to make audiences laugh and at the peak of his fame the presenter commanded audiences of 19 million viewers.

He earned millions from his on-screen reputation but also raised more than £100 million for charity and was awarded an MBE in 2001.

Born on a tough London council estate, he developed a thick skin early in life and decades later, when tabloid television critics labelled him "the most hated man in Britain", he smiled all the way to the bank.

Beadle, who died at a north London hospital after a brief battle against pneumonia, lived a life that was full of contradictions.

Among the many charities he supported, he worked tirelessly to help run and raise funds for Children with Leukaemia only to be struck down by the disease himself.

People who never met him, but felt they knew him, often seemed happy to vilify him.

Yet, in person, he was a charming man with many close and loyal friends, most of whom, surprisingly, worked outside the entertainment industry.

The publicity departments of his television companies worked overtime to raise his showbusiness profile when his series were running.

But, away from the screen, he was a private individual who felt happiest at home, working in his library, surrounded by paperwork.

Beadle's wife, Sue, and close friends were at his bedside when he died, and many others expressed their condolences to his two daughters, Cassie and Bonnie, and his stepchildren, Leo and Claire.

A well-wishers' book had been set up at the hospital during the days before he died.

One close friend, who sat with him for hours and later left a message, said: "People were in effect coming to pay their last respects and say their goodbyes.

"He was too ill at the end to be aware of their visits."

Paul Jackson, ITV's director of entertainment, said: "We are incredibly saddened.

"Jeremy appeared the ultimate joker and a consummate prankster. He had a brilliant brain which never stopped thinking of new ideas and formats."

Beadle worked as a taxi driver, tour guide, music festival promoter and co-edited the Time Out London magazine.

He worked as a presenter on BBC Radios 2, 3 and 4 and LBC and Capital Radio before turning to television.

He once said: "People feel guilty about enjoying the cruelty of comedy which is at someone else's expense. As I'm the instigator, they transfer their guilt on to me. But I say let them hate me, just as long as they watch me."

An obit in The Times

Arch-prankster Jeremy Beadle dies at 59 after battle with pneumonia

Adam Sherwin, Media Correspondent

The television prankster Jeremy Beadle has died after a short battle with pneumonia, aged 59.

Once dubbed the “most hated man in Britain” by critics, Beadle regularly attracted television audiences of more than 15 million for his programmes Beadle’s About and You’ve Been Framed. The programmes, which aired video clips sent in by viewers and pranks on unsuspecting members of the public, often disguised the ITV stalwart’s intellectual fascination with trivia and the history of practical jokes.

Beadle had leukaemia diagnosed in 2005 after devloping cancer of the kidney, but he refused to use his condition as a reason to stop working. Last autumn he released three new books and before his illness he was working on some new television formats.

Beadle, a former editor at Time Out magazine, was catapulted to fame in 1981 by the success of Game for a Laugh, the hit ITV show that used hidden camera set-ups. Henry Kelly, his co-presenter, said: “Jeremy and I were firm friends for nearly 30 years. I loved and admired him and I shall miss him desperately. Not only was he a terrific colleague in our Game for a Laugh days and beyond, but he was a most wonderful friend to have and the most entertaining company you could possibly imagine.”

The entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar, a close friend of Beadle, described him as “one of the most charitably minded and generous people I have ever come across”. He said: “He was also one of the greatest comedy talents of our generation. He made millions laugh and he will never be forgotten.”

When the ratings for Beadle’s About and You’ve Been Framed faded, Beadle published a series of trivia books, showcasing his knowledge of dates and events, which sold in their millions. He also appeared in numerous pantomimes and as circus ringmaster for Gerry Cottle.

Television fame brought Beadle considerable wealth, which he invested in his home in Hertfordshire with its library of 22,000 books.

Beadle’s charitable efforts included helping children with Poland’s syndrome, which he suffered from and which left him with a withered right hand. He was a significant fundraiser for Children with Leukaemia throughout his life and is estimated to have raised more than £100 million for charities. In 1998 he disclosed that he had helped a friend dying of motor neuron disease to commit suicide. He was appointed MBE in 2001.

Describing his role as a prankster to some, irritant to others, he once said: “I’m the Fouche, Talleyrand and Cardinal Wolsey.”

He once said: “People feel guilty about enjoying the cruelty of comedy which is at someone else’s expense. They transfer their guilt on to me. But I say let them hate me . . . as long as they watch.”

An appreciation of him in the Times

Erudite man who had more to offer than TV demanded
Andrew Billen: Appreciation

Some will say that Jeremy Beadle’s legacy was to lower candid-camera television from a surreal art form to a sub-species of the theatre of cruelty. The goal of Beadle’s About, his best-known show, seemed to be to induce a coronary in the victims of his practical jokes.

A man might return home to find his house had been sold. A holiday-maker would drive his car into a ferry’s hold and return to find a space where he had left it. The old, gentler Candid Camera of the 1960s would place a man on a park bench and have him talk into his sleeve, convincing the people next to him that he was a spy, not that his own house or car had been destroyed.

The 1980s seemed to require something stronger. Beadle’s techniques were aped by everyone from Noel Edmonds (twinklier) to Chris Morris (deadlier) until every two-bit DJ prided himself on being a wind-up merchant.

Beadle eventually got out and went into television production. He had probably read enough headlines calling him the most hated man in Britain or profiles suggesting that his act was a revenge on God for creating him with a withered hand. Or maybe, his devilish, bearded face simply became too well known for him to get away with playing, for the umpteenth time, the obtuse parking warden. There were, after all, few more media-savvy than he.

As one quarter of ITV’s Game for a Laugh, in 1981 he helped to end the long Saturday night hegemony of the BBC and its Generation Game. In an earlier incarnation as a radio phone-in host on the London station LBC, he persuaded listeners one night that he was presenting his one-hour show from a Tube train. Scores of them turned out to greet him at his final destination. He had never, of course, left the studio.

But his knowledge of the media bred contempt. At the Edinburgh TV Festival a few years ago he warned those new to the game never to respond to the reporter who promises you the chance to “give your side of the story”. He said: “That means, ‘Kiss me because I am going to rape you anyway’.”

Whether fear, pragmatism or cynicism led him to flee the limelight, it is almost certain that this erudite man with a jackdaw’s mind for dates and facts had more to offer than television encouraged him to give.

Another appreciation from the BBC...

Fond memories of 'a wonderful man'
As the world of entertainment mourns the loss of Jeremy Beadle, one man recalls the days when he worked side-by-side with the TV prankster.

Danny Greenstone, 54, worked with Mr Beadle as a producer on BBC radio and later on ITV's Game For a Laugh.

The loss of Jeremy is a great loss to us all. He was a fantastic entertainer and a wonderful man.

I was at his side for many years, and I recall how he had an infinite capacity for wanting to generate laughter.

Even when he was at the peak of his fame, he would always break off and talk to ordinary people and members of the audience.

I have never seen anyone sign so many autographs.

I remember some bizarre moments with him - like being stuck together in a tiny hideout, no bigger than a cupboard, while we were waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting member of the public on Game For a Laugh.

My time on radio with him was a revelation. He was a natural, and it would be a shame if people forgot how good he was in that format.

But he was an incredibly intelligent man, as well.

Whenever I went to his house I was always amazed by how many books he had. Every idea you discussed would be impeccably researched by him.

The only word he didn't have in his vocabulary was no.

Every time you made a suggestion for a prank on the show, he would want to take it as far as it would go even if the rest of us thought it wouldn't work.

Beadle did so much for charity that he didn't ever want published.

He could have made sure that his name was attached to everything he did for good causes. But it was personal to him, it was private.

He was a lovely, lovely man, and I'll remember him fondly.

Tributes here, from Sky News

Friends Pay Tribute To Jeremy Beadle

British television stars have been paying tribute to the TV presenter Jeremy Beadle who has died from pneumonia.

The 59-year-old had become one of TV's best known faces through popular shows like Beadle's About and You've Been Framed.

He had battled ill health in recent years, having been diagnosed with leukaemia in 2005. His wife, Sue, and close friends were at his bedside when he died.

Beadle was one of ITV's best known faces for more than 15 years, regularly pulling in audiences in excess of 15 million.

Henry Kelly, Beadle's co-presenter on 1980s hidden camera show Game For A Laugh, said: "Jeremy and I were firm friends for nearly 30 years. I loved and admired him and I shall miss him desperately."

Game For A Laugh ran from 1981-1985 and also featured Matthew Kelly and Sarah Kennedy.

Ms Kennedy said: "I'm very, very sad for him and his family to know that he's gone."

Noel Edmonds, Beadle's one-time BBC "rival" said it was "a sad loss for TV and a great shame that a new audience have lost Jeremy Beadle.

"He was a consummate professional but also a greatly misunderstood man - a great TV talent who was never truly appreciated.

"I was always astonished at his ability to raise funds for charity. Nobody in showbusiness raised more money than him."

Beadle was a significant fundraiser for Children with Leukaemia throughout his life and is estimated to have helped to raise more than £100m for charities of all description.

He was made an MBE in 2001.

Carol Vorderman, who worked with Beadle on Countdown, said: "He just loved all kinds of information. You could ask him about anything and he would know about it."
Beadle with wife Sue (right) and daughter Cassie

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan said they would remember Beadle with "immense fondness".

Entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar and his wife, Ann, were close friends of the star.

He said: "Jeremy was a great friend of mine and one of the most charitably minded and generous people I have ever come across.

"He was also one of the greatest comedy talents of our generation - he made millions laugh and he will never be forgotten."

Beadle hosted ITV show You've Been Framed from 1990 to 1997.

Dianne Nelmes, executive producer of the series when it launched, said: "Because of You've Been Framed and Beadle's About he had a reputation as someone who was forever playing tricks on people, but in reality he was the kindest person you could ever meet."

Beadle leaves his wife Sue, daughters Cassie and Bonnie, and step children Leo and Claire.

January 29, 2008

JA (Classic) M

Paul Merton will be involved in the introductions to this years's Just A Classic Minute CD. Nicholas will also be involved. I think it will be fun to hear Paul's reminiscences about JAM and his views on the old performers Kenneth, Derek and Peter. He's a shrewd critic of comedy, Paul, and I frankly can't wait to hear his analysis of their styles.

today's show

The best of the season - maybe of a few seasons. Jenny Eclair was great, Marcus was great, Clement was great, and Paul was at his brilliant best, as good as he has been for ages. There just wasn't a dull moment. Hillarious.

Proof surely that both Jenny and Marcus deserve to be on the short-list of those who should appear more frequently. Jenny showed why she is my favourite woman panellist.

Yeah - I liked it.

January 25, 2008

The environmental JAMster

From The Independent

Why comedian Marcus Brigstocke spent £100,000 on an eco-makeover

When Marcus Brigstocke moved to a family home in Wandsworth, he decided to go eco-crazy – only without the 'look at me' wind turbine

Interview by Rosanna Greenstreet
Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Marcus Brigstocke, 34, is a regular on BBC TV and radio. He spent several years as the 'angry young man' on the 'The Now Show', has made three series of 'Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes Off' and of 'The Museum of Everything' and hosts a weekly BBC4 satire show, 'The Late Edition'. His DVD 'Planet Corduroy' is on sale now

Two years ago, we moved into a 1930s four-bedroom semi in Wandsworth. The people who lived here before built an extension with huge glass windows looking on to the garden. The extension is a lovely open area – it's where we have the kitchen, sitting room and dining room. So even though the garden's quite small, the house is a decent size.

The kids – Alfie, two, and Emily, five – are on the top floor and have their own bathroom. My wife, Sophie, and I are on the middle floor, where there's also a spare bedroom that doubles as a massage studio, because Sophie's a massage therapist. Also on the ground floor is a separate playroom for the kids, and there's a loo and a corridor with more cupboard space than you could possibly imagine.

The main thing we've done since we got here is making everything green. It's an agonising financial experience. We've spent about a hundred grand. But that's not just on going green – a lot of that is making the house exactly how we wanted. We decided to wait until we could afford to do the whole thing, and then get builders in for the minimum amount of time. We thought they would be here for two months, but they came in August and they're still here.

Of course the thing you really want when you're eco-ing your home is a wind turbine on the roof that says to everybody: "Look how virtuous we are!" It's the David Cameron approach to going green. The reality is that you have to change your lightbulbs, and put little silver screens behind all the radiators to push the heat into the room – ie, nothing that anybody will notice. Unfortunately, going eco is not really supported by the Government. You pay VAT on having your windows double-glazed as a luxury, when the only reason we've done it is to use less energy.

All the materials we've used have been meticulously researched. The kitchen's been completely redone with wood from sustainable sources. We gave the old kitchen away via Freecycle, which is brilliant if you want to get rid of anything, from a minidisc player to a complete kitchen.

As for the paints in the house, I don't know what chemicals they did and didn't have in them, but they have the lowest impact on the environment. Our style is Wandsworth neutral or Nappy Valley cream. When you've kids doing fingerpainting and bringing home handprints every single day, you really don't want a huge amount of brightly coloured, expensive wallpaper.

We've aimed to make everything as simple as possible. We've a triple-bin system for recycling, compost and waste. In the playroom, the light switch was behind the door, and we'd leave it on all day – so we moved the switch, and now it's second nature to make sure that if someone's not in the room, all the lights are off. In the playroom there's a fireplace with a chimney balloon. If you have open chimneys, you're blasting whatever heat you have straight up the chimney. You inflate a special balloon, push it up the chimney and finish inflating it through a special tube. At Christmas if we want to light the fire, we can take the balloon out – it couldn't be simpler.

We don't have a freakish fridge, just a well-insulated one that uses a low amount of energy and is a fridge/ freezer so we're not powering two separate units. All the sockets are accessible. They don't scream, "There are sockets everywhere!" but they're easy to switch off. The dishwasher switches off completely, so it's not on a standby setting. The only thing that stays on permanently is the Sky Plus box. I daren't switch that off – can you imagine the chaos?

We are in a privileged position: I've had a good couple of years with work and we've been able to spend on things like having as many of the light switches separated as possible, so we only have on what lighting we need. We have solar panels, and are having photovoltaic panels fitted as soon as we can get hold of them, but the demand is very high. They are full-on energy-producing panels – they will run your lights for you and contribute to the national grid. You can get photovoltaic panels in the UK but the waiting lists are long. Also, the Government has set a cap on grants for installing them, at the same time as saying, "Yes, we are taking climate change seriously!" I am getting my panels in from a Chinese plant, the only one in the world with a really solid eco-record for making them. A lot of these things you buy thinking, "Yes, that's the right thing to do", and then you find out that the carbon footprint caused by construction and transport makes the action useless.

I hope we'll be here for long enough to make it all pay. We were living next to Battersea Park before. I've always loved the park, but it's dogshit central. One of the things that turns me into a grumpy old man is seeing people let their dogs crap all over the place. We had Emily while we were there, and the house was big enough, but only just. Basically, for every mile that you move further from central London, you get an extra foot; so I think we won ourselves three extra feet by moving to Wandsworth.

January 24, 2008

Greenwich show

The Bexley Times published this account of the Greenwich show

ONE of Britain's longest running radio comedy shows, Just a Minute, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and is as popular as ever with two million listeners tuning in to every episode, writes Simon Hildrew.

The show stopped off at the Greenwich Theatre last week to record two shows back-to-back in front of a lively sell-out crowd. The line-up for these shows included 'long-suffering' host Nicholas Parsons, who has held this position since the shows inception, show regular Paul Merton, comedy actress Liza Tarbuck, Clement Freud, who has appeared as a contestant since the show began and Jack Dee, making his debut on the show.

The object of the game is to talk 'for just a minute' on a given subject, 'without repetition, hesitation or deviation'. Humour ensues when the panellists attempt to gain points by challenging their rivals from departing from the rules or by being the person still speaking at the end of the 60 seconds. To speak for the full minute without being challenged is extremely difficult but glorious when achieved.

Parsons gave us a friendly pre-show warm-up, telling a few jokes before introducing the celebrity contenders.

For the first show Merton and Freud dominated the opening subject, 'killing time,' as they constantly interjected each other trying to gain points with the round finally going to Freud.

Chairman Parsons continues to attempt to control the proceedings and the sometimes unruly panellists as they all try to gain an advantage over one another by buzzing in whenever they hear the slightest hesitation or even a stumble over words.

Some of the subjects were so closely fought that on two occasions the time went right down to half-a- second!

Among the other subjects hilariously tackled were: loitering, prima donna, leap year and prehistoric woman.

After a short break it was straight into the second recording with the topical subject of the 2012 Olympics.

Freud made a joke that he would be eligible for the over 80s pole vault!

As the quick-witted jokes and verbal barbs flowed back and forth, Parsons is the butt of the occasional friendly jibe from all the panel, including an on going joke about him sharing a bubble bath with Liza Tarbuck backstage.

The first show from Greenwich will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Monday, February 4 at 6.30pm with the other show to be aired in March.

January 23, 2008

Bristol team

The last recording of the current season in Bristol featured the team - Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Graham Norton and Sue Perkins.

Minor trivia - Although Paul, Tony and Graham are three of the four people with most appearances of those still playing - by a very very long way - that trio has never appeared together on a programme before.

January 22, 2008

Great show today

I really enjoyed it - certainly the best so far this season. All were in good form and Phill Jupitus in particular was very much improved on his debut. he needs to come back soon.

Graham and Gyles were deserving joint winners.

Well done!

January 17, 2008

Greenwich team

was Sir Clement Freud, Paul Merton, Liza Tarbuck and Jack Dee.

For Liza it's her first show in two years. Personally I'm slightly surprised she is being called up again but she's always jolly when she is on.

Jack Dee will be making his JAM debut. But he has been doing a few editions of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue so it was probably time for him to "graduate" to JAM. For those not familar with him, he's a stand-up comedian, compere and actor who has been on TV presenting variety shows and acting for the better part of 20 years. His current vehicle is Lead Balloon, a sitcom written and performed by himself and based vaguely on his life.

I think he will do well on JAM. A good addition to the cast.

January 15, 2008

Today's show

It wasn't the one advertised which was supposed to be show 2 from last year's Stratford-on-Avon recording. Indeed as the show played in the BBC player on my PC, the "now playing" thing said it was that show.

Instead we were in King's Lynn with Tony Hawks, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Gyles Brandreth and Janey Godley. The first show without either Clement or Paul in three years.

I thought it was fine and they were all good. But there was a feeling of "no show without Punch". The best JAMs have a lead player - Kenneth Williams, then Paul Merton and sometimes Graham Norton. That was what the show missed - someone to pick things up with a bit of comic invention and madness.

Having said that they all had their moments. I liked Janey again though she is probably going to have to produce a bit more comedy if she is going to get regular call-ups.

Not JAM at its best - but fine.

Graham very happy!

JAM star Graham Norton admits - life's great! (from Fametastic)

Graham Norton has revealed he’s “very, very happy” with his new boyfriend - but he’s not thinking about marriage just yet.

The TV presenter split from long-term partner Kristian Seeber in February 2006 and complained that he was “no good” at relationships before meeting his new boyfriend last year.

Graham told the Mirror recently: “I am very, very happy at the moment. Things are going really well.”

He didn’t give a name but said that the man is “not in showbusiness - to be honest, I don’t really understand what he does” but said “he is from South Africa and we met there last year at a party, through mutual friends. Luckily he is based in London.”

The couple spent Christmas with Graham’s family in Ireland before heading over to Cape Town, where they first met, for New Year: “I wanted a little blast of sun before going back to work. Ireland was lovely. It was all log fires, big woolly jumpers and walks in the woods. In Cape Town, it’s a gorgeous climate, sunny and lovely.”

“For New Year we had drinks at a friend’s house overlooking Cape Town and watched the fireworks going off around the city. It was quite chilled - not a mad one.”

But while he’s happily in love, he’s not sure he’s ready for a lifelong commitment just yet: “Getting married is not something I think about really. I am not saying I would never do it, though. When there does come a time in your life when it would be nice to have a special day and have a party and stuff, that would be nice.”

“The issue of children is more complicated [though]. I think I’[d be] a very bad parent and I should avoid that.”

January 14, 2008

Salisbury team

was Sir Clement Freud, Paul Merton, Jenny Eclair and Marcus Brigstocke

January 13, 2008

Missing show

One of the missing shows has turned up! I'd almost given up on any of them showing their head - it must be two years since one has - but it gives me confidence there is still a chance of us eating away at the remaining 17 missing shows.

It's one of the 1995 TV editions. Transcript now up here with thanks to Charles Berman who transcribed it.

January 09, 2008

Upcoming shows

Next week is the second show from Stratford-on-Avon with Sir Clement Freud, Graham Norton, Gyles Brandreth and Phill Jupitus.

January 21 is from King-s Lynn with Gyles, Tony Hawks, Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Janey Godley.

The first show in three years without either of the regulars.

And Janey's first appearance outside the Fringe. She deserrves it, she's been damn good in her Edinburgh appearances.

January 08, 2008

Today's show

I really enjoyed it - a lot. I thought Josie Lawrence was very good. I'm biased I suppose because I love watching her but she was bubbly and bold and funny and not one to be intimidated. I thought as she got more into things she could be a real hit on the show.

And Chris Neill was great again. He's sounding like a veteran these days. Surely his first win can't be far way!

Great to have the show back. I see the second of the shows I saw at Stratford-on-Avon is on next week.

January 05, 2008

Just An Audio Collage

A correspondent, Andrew Bleeker sent me this link to an audio collage he made on YouTube. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to have Nick, Clement, Paul, Tony, Graham, Linda, Liza and Barry Cryer all speaking at once...

Just An Audio Collage

January 03, 2008

JAM goes to Bristol

It's at

Colston Hall,
Colston Street,

Monday 21st January 2008 at 7.30pm

Tickets are £5 - they can be booked via the Box Office on 0117 9223686 or via the website: www.colstonhall.org

Paul Merton and Graham Norton are both on the panel for the show.

January 01, 2008

JAM special

I loved it.

Lots of great bits, even a couple I didn't remember hearing before! A good mix of the old and the new. I also liked the new bits of people talking about the show. Paul, Graham, Julian, Chris Neill and of course Nicholas were all great though I didn't quite get Gyles and whether he was trying to make a joke or was actually telling a true tale.

Lovely to hear Linda Smith in great form again. We still miss her.

I would have liked a bit of Aimi Macdonald in there somewhere - but who could complain too much. Carol Smith and Tilusha Ghelani - take a bow.

And next week we get back Nicholas, Clement, Paul, Chris, and of course Josie Lawrence. Something to look forward to!

I can't wait to transcribe it now! (Though I still have a few from last season to do.)

40 years special - blogged live!

I thought I'd blog the special live to give you my thoughts as I hear it for the first time...

I should say I'm just mildly excited - not least to see if any of my suggestions have made the cut! I gave some suggestions to the producer at her request - you can see what I picked if you scroll back through the archive.

Here we go...

the old Minute Waltz version from the 80s kicks things off, and here's Nicholas. Says it's been his "great privilege and sheer delight" to preside over JAM.

* Sheila Hancock on "curry", with Kenneth Williams, Alfred Marks and Peter Jones, from the last Classic version.

* Kenneth in great voice and Nicholas impersonating him.

* Graham Norton on socks and his lovely Clinton pussy joke.

* Ross Noble going the full 60 counting chickens.

Now Paul Merton saying he loves doing JAM, says he pinches himself that he is involved in it.

Graham Norton saying there's so much love for the show. Says it's inexplicable people follow it so thoroughly. "It's proper theatre!"

Now posing "why Just A Minute has lasted so long" - it's a clip from the 35th anniversary show, with Graham, Paul, Clement (first time we've heaed him) and Sheila all making contributions.

Nicholas now talking about Ian Messiter and the story about him at school devising the game.

Now Kenny Everett on marbles on his only appearance and having to keep going despite breaking all the rules.

Former producer Chris Neill now, says he loved being in charge of a classic show and working with Paul, Kenneth, Derek, Peter, Clement ad Linda Smith who he say beside on his first show.

Now Linda Smith on answering back and being very funny. Sad to think she died so young, she really was one of the best ever on the show.

Paul now talking about how he first came on the show, says Ted Taylor then the producer was warning Paul about his behaviour! He says he used to record JAM and listen to it on tape!

Here's one of my picks - Paul going the full 60 seconds on flying saucers!

Graham paying tribute to Clement, saying having him there is terrific. Says he is quite competitive.

Now Clement on why I love every one of you, being funny and quirky.

Clement on answering back! "Shan't!"

Clement on "why I love Just A Minute!" He says "I actually prefer I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue".

Graham now paying tribute to Nicholas - says he really makes the show. He loves his relationship with the panellists.

Clement now on parbuckles and a fairly typical fight between Kenneth and Nicholas! Derek challenging, first time we have heard his voice (we've only heard a brief interjection so far from Peter Jones). Derek getting stuck into Nicholas!

Stephen Fry now being rude to Nicholas from a show I recommended to the Beeb!

Derek again, with Paul challenging him on "meedevil"!

Stephen Fry again, with Paul chiming in!

Julian Clary saying Nicholas has never missed a show.

Gyles Brandreth now, saying he first encountered the show 38 years ago, he says he loved working with Peter Jones in the early days.

Derek speaking and Clement interrupting on "the brownies". Derek teasing Clement for being so slow and ponderous.

Peter now on "wrong numbers", one of his best bits. Stephen challenging him.

Kenneth on "advice to a 21-year-old girl" in great style. Bob Monkhouse challenging him now.

Nicholas summing up "40 years of warmth, wit, whimsy and repartee".

Peter Jones again on "my pleasure". Tommy Trinder challenges.

Jenny Eclair on "a bodice ripper". Gyles challenging and praising Jenny's breasts.

Barry Took tapping away on Spanish dancing.

Paul on "Achilles heel", with Stephen having great fun in a challenge.

Bob Monkhouse now on "my happiest holiday".

Tony Hawks now (first time we've heard him) on "bubble and squeak". Clement interrupts and Tony comes back well.

Nicholas says "spontaneous improvised comedy is the most exciting from of entertainment", and off again goes the Minute Waltz!

Produced by Carol Smith and Tilusha Ghelani.

Well! I really enjoyed that! Well done Carol and Tilusha.

Interesting no comments from Clement... just some very good clips.

Story one

Eagle-eyed Dan Howland spotted this paragraph in today's Times

Just a Minute, Radio 4, 6.30pm

And, as the Minute Waltz fades away, we find that dear old Nicholas Parsons is here to present the 12 episodes of the 41st year of one of the great comedy panel games. And, to start off with, there’s this look back over those 40 years, featuring interviews with contestants as well as deathless moments – or even minutes – from the past. Which means lots of Kenneth Williams, Derek Nimmo (my own favourite, for some reason I still can’t fathom), Peter Jones and Clement Freud, the only member of the original team still playing today.