Dean's JAM rankings for 2009
This year 29 players were included in JAM, enough for 7 teams. This is not quite a record, but it's getting close to it. Does this strike you as too many? It does me and I expect that with no Clement, that figure could be even higher next year.
Overall, a very funny year. I could have had several others in the top five and really many of the shows were hugely enjoyable.
They won't be back next year
Jack Dee - Last year I had him about average, but this year it just didin't seem like he was especially competitive or especially funny. He may be better suited to other games.
Janey Godley - In the same category last year, she still had some spark and seems jolly, but heading towards lame at the game.
Josie Long - I liked her up personality but she just seemed a bit out of place and out of her league.
Pauline McLynn - She didn't appear in 2008, in 2009 I had her in the same list. She seems a fun person, but it's almost like she's a TV takent show judge commenting on the others, rather than being up there strutting her stuff.
Mike McShane - In the "had some good moments" category last year, Mike was very quiet in his one appearance. Seems like this just isn't his thing.
Paul Sinha - One of the slowest debuts, he was part of an Edinburgh show that was well below par.
They had some good moments
Richard Herring - Didn't really get going in his one show but he has a good humorous style and seemed to enjoy himself.
Josie Lawrence - Last year I predicted she wouldn't be back. I was wrong and I thought she was better this time, and showed some of her skills. She still has a way to go though.
Helen Lederer - I thought she was one of the weakest performers I had heard previously. I thought she was a lot better than I expected this time without being anything outstanding.
Tim Rice - I rated him average in 2007. I thought he didn't have many really good lines, but he could still develop a Clement-type persona.
Liza Tarbuck - I said she wouldn't be back, and she was, and even won one of her games. She was better than previously, but still seems a bit of a passenger.
Suki Webster - I thought she did very well on debut - I almost had her in the next group.
Pam Ayres - I had her in the "Let's see more" group in 2007. I enjoy Pam a lot and she is always funny, but needs to get a bit more involved.
Charles Collingwood - A lot of people seem to like Charles and his somewhat camp outrage. I do too but he's seldom really funny.
Sheila Hancock - I would normally rate Sheila a bit higher but I thought she wasn't at her best this year. Still one of the great names though.
Tony Hawks - Last year in the "let's hear more" group. I found myself a little disappointed by Tony this year who didn't seem to be entirely engaged. Still rates as one of the old reliables.
Shappi Khorsandi - Last year I thought she wouldn't be back. This year she was back with four shows, and was charming enough without creating many laughs.
Chris Neill - In the same group last year. Chris is good fun and I may have under-rated him here.
Let's hear more of them
Julian Clary - Last year I rated him fourth. He wasn't at his absolute best this year but a show with him in it is guarantted to be thoroughly enjoyable.
Jenny Eclair - Same group last year. I almost had her in the top five, I just love her distinctive brand of humour.
Stephen Fry - Any show with Stephen is something of an occasion. The shows with him this year were very good, especially the second. Still he wasn't at his absolute brilliant best, merely excellent.
Kit Hesketh-Harvey - Last year in the average group. Kit's distinctive style and sharp wit always makes me smile and provides something unique.
David Mitchell - It's been a while since someone made as strong a debut as David. Very very funny, highly competitive, he's just made for this game.
Justin Moorhouse - Another very funny debutant, he has a style which seems very well suited to this show.
Stars of the year
5th best - Graham Norton - Last year's bronze medallist, Graham's just very very funny and a show with him in it is always strong.
4th best - Gyles Brandreth - Last year in the "let's hear more" group. We did and he just seems more and more comfortable in the show, more versatile, and just firing in partnership with Paul.
Bronze medal - Sue Perkins - Last year's silver medallist, Sue hadn't won a show before this year when she won five out of six. She's always been fluent, she always has something to say when she has the subject, she's on her way to becoming a star of this show
Silver medal - Paul Merton - Last year's champion. As funny as ever, if anything Paul gets better and better. He holds the thing together like a pro, and relishes competition. A true great.
Champion of the year - Clement Freud - well they often have sentimental awards at the Oscars, so chalk this down as a sentimental award. he was in good form in the first half of the year and he was sure missed in the second half. The reaction to his death showed just how much he was loved by his colleagues, and already the show seems different withoout him. We'll miss that gravitas and I think he deserves to be JAM's Star of the Year.