Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

April 16, 2009

My thoughts - the great Clement

I'm deeply sad right now - but perhaps that's the right time to write something about what Clement meant to JAM.

The facts first - 41 and a half years - 543 radio editions, four TV editions, 230 wins. He appeared in the first show back in December 1967 and appeared in every subsequent season. At 84 he has had a long life - half of it as a JAM panellist!

But apart from the sadness of Clement passing, it's also the passing of the last "Beatle", the last member of the gang of four. It's the end of an era in a very real sense.

He is already being pegged in obits as the competitve one. I saw him a few years ago on a doco saying how much he liked the competitive side of the show and competing with people like Paul Merton and Graham Norton. And it's true. He clearly had a feeling for playing the game correctly and jumped on any breach of the rules, and any ruling that offended his sense of how the game should be played.

But he was also very witty. I noticed that he always tried to say something interesting or amusing. If another contestant had just two seconds to go, they'd more than likely just repeat the subject to fill in the time. Not Clement - too easy. He'd think up something clever to fill even that small bit of time. Yes he was competitive - but he knew the game was an entertainment too.

He had such a great relationship with Kenneth Williams and Paul Merton. He sat beside them, put up with their attempts to put him off, but clearly admired them and was prepared to act as a sort of staright man for them. He had great comic timing.

And he thought up some of the show's best lines. "The interesting thing about Virgin Records is that they have no holes in them" is one of those lines that always always raises a smile. I also like "giving up smoking, drinking and sex doesn't mean you will have a longer life, it just seems longer". Even his recent line in response to the subject "why I enjoy Just A Minute: - "Actually I've always preferred I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" pronounced in that deadpan way - comedy magic.

We'll miss Clement on JAM. A lot. He leaves Nicholas at 85 very much on his own as the old guard. But we have about 270 hours of Clement's wit, challenges and lugubriosity to listen to.

My sincere condolences to his family.


Anonymous Ian said...

One of my favourite Clement quips came when Paul (I think) was talking about the Scottish Parliament and Clement buzzed with the challenge

I cried with laughter the first time I heard that.

And, for anyone that hasn't read it, be sure to seek out a copy of his autobiography - Freud Ego - a cracking read.


11:09 pm  

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