Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

April 16, 2009

JAM costars pay tribute to Sir Clement

This from the BBC Today programme

Comedian and writer Tony Hawks, who worked with Sir Clement, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Through his great intellect he would always bring out the best in you, because you sometimes would think 'Who's doing the show?' and when you knew it was Clement, you thought 'Oh, I'd better be on tip-top form'."
Fellow Just A Minute star Stephen Fry paid tribute to a "charming and wonderful man".
He told Today: "I got to know him because I was lucky enough to do a couple of Just A Minutes and I became immensely fond of him.
"I was at first very afraid of him - a lot of people were. There were stories that he was immensely grouchy, he was rude sometimes to people who asked for autographs. I never experienced that side of him at all.
"And another element to him which perhaps should not go unmentioned is his raffishness, if you like, his air of disreputability.
"He, during the 1950s and 1960s, was a real Soho figure, he knew all the girls of easy virtue, he knew the pimps, he knew the racetrack tipsters and, of course, the restaurateurs, which is where he learnt his business as a chef.
"His fund of stories about that time was simply remarkable, and he lived a sort of life on the edge. His brother Lucian is known as the more bohemian, I suppose, as an artist but Clement had that quality too."
Asked what Sir Clement was like to perform with, Fry added: "He was immensely good company and he enjoyed, I think, particularly meeting new young comedians.
"Just A Minute, of course, takes on new talent and he became very fond of that new generation, led by Paul Merton, who I suppose now is old guard.
"But I think after the sad, earlyish deaths of Kenneth Williams and Peter Jones he was left sort of marooned as the last of their generation but he really enjoyed the young clustering about him."

Nicholas Parsons penned this piece in the Guardian

Clement was in the original pilot of our Radio 4 game show Just A Minute, and was a regular participant right up to a few weeks ago. The next series of this show, which is now in its 41st year, will not seem the same without his witty interjections. Clement was clever in whatever he did. It was this cleverness which he displayed in whatever work or challenge he undertook - be it journalism or running the Royal Court Theatre Club - that ensured that he always came out on top. In fact, it was only in Just A Minute that he did not always finish as the winner.
In all other areas his natural competitive spirit asserted itself. He enjoyed accepting a challenge and, having done so, assessed what was involved and applied his talent and very shrewd mind to be sure he was the winner. A fine example was the Daily Mail transatlantic race to commemorate the achievements of the flying pioneers Alcock and Brown. The race was to be from the top of the Post Office Tower in London to the top of the Empire State Building in New York. Clement's meticulous planning ensured once again he was the winner.
It was this attention to detail and brilliant planning that ensured that when he accepted the challenge of standing for parliament as a Liberal candidate in 1973 he overturned a huge Conservative majority and won against all the odds. I went down to Ely and spoke for him, as did other friends, and was able to observe at first hand how he charmed people - and outmanoeuvred his opponent.
Clement was loved by those who knew him, admired by everyone, even those who did not enjoy his company. He was a devoted husband, a loving father and a man who achieved success in more areas than anyone I have ever known. He will be missed: there was no one to whom you could compare him, and we will probably never see his like again.


Anonymous Daniel said...

Clement... you'll be very much missed...

8:46 pm  
Anonymous Duncan said...

I read the news on the BBC and came straight here. Sir Clement was a resonant link with an era now almost vanished, an era of dignified eloquence combined with self-deprecation. The last time I heard him, a few weeks ago, on "Just a Minute", he was on great form, better than I'd heard him for a couple of years - the combination of his great gravitas and his sense of mischief was a sea-anchor in the ebb and flow of the show.

He will indeed be much missed. It comes as some consolation, and must also do so for his family, that he was fit and active to the end, and that he had such a large and loving family.

Rest in peace!

9:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The show will simply not be the same without him. I always felt like something was missing when Clement wasn't on the show. I never could put my finger on it. A sense of history perhaps? Maybe we'll see Sheila on the show more. I hope so. But you can't replace Clement. He was one of a kind. And he was a bit Soho. Even that beard of his said so

10:48 pm  

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