Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

June 26, 2009

They haven't a clue

I was looking forward to the return of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue - and the first couple of shows seem to have been greeted like mana from heaven. The Guardian reviewer amusingly suggested they had thought up a brilliant new parody of JAM in Just A Minim - but of course the game has been played on and off for years.

I suppose I can understand why, with a new chairman, you wouldn't want to change anything else. But I found the two shows disappointing. There was little that seemed new or original. Same old games, same old jokes. I thought the best performer was Victoria Wood, by far. The others seemed to me to be phoning it in.

Stephen Fry as chairman gradually warmed up but I thought his reading of the long introductions was to be frank, poor. The monologues were written as if they were intended to be read by Humph, and Fry just didn't seem comfortable with them. Given that Fry is a professional comedian, maybe he should have written his own material, or at least have had some input into it. He was best when it seemed as if he was ad libbing.

I am not a big fan of Clue though I do usually listen. But I did think these shows were worse than usual. It's in part the absence of Humph - one way the show had of not sounding smug about their familiar routines and jokes was that Humph sounded as if he was contemptuous of the whole thing. Stephen Fry just sounds a bit too smug himself to play that role.

But I also wonder if producer Jon Naismith and consultant Iain Pattinson have not been running things a tad too long. Time for some new ideas. Some from me - now that the chairmen are comedians too, why not have them play a greater role in the games? How about some new musical games? One Song To The Tune Of Another is sounding particularly tired - how about improvising songs like they used to in Whose Line Is It Anyway? Personally I'd cut down on the monologues by the chairman. And maybe it's time too to think whether we need Barry, Graeme and Tim every week. Victoria Wood was damn good and some of the other occasional players are also a bit more original - Sandi Toksvig, Jeremy Hardy and Andy Hamilton are favourites of mine. Another sort of game that could be adapted is something like Party Quirks - where the players have to take on weird personas.

I'm assuming Jack Dee will eventually get the chairman's job as he is the most Humph-like of the candidates and is to tour with the team. Maybe once he has settled in the BBC will appoint someone new to the producer's job and slowly bring in some fresh thinking. I feel that it needs it.


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