Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

October 25, 2010


I realised I hadn't written anything substantial on the blog for a bit. I've kept it reasonably up to date on news, but I think you guys also like it when I rave on about my views on Just A Minute. Perhaps I'm wrong about that but that's my suspicion. Anyway if you DO like it, here goes. If you don't, you've been warned and can go read something more interesting - such as this perhaps.

Firstly an apology for not keeping the transcripts up to date. I have only two of 20 shows so far this year transcribed. I have been a bad person! I'll make a start by trying to get one done today, and ask your forgiveness at not being better at keeping this aspect of the website as up to date as it should be.

Now, does anyone have any information on when the next season starts? I reported some time ago information that JAM will now have three seasons a year, of eight eppies each. That may mean, if the seasons are spaced out, that the next season could begin in December. That's why I've held off on my annual scorecard on the performers - in case we still have some shows to come this year. That also adds up with when the current season of The Unbelievable Truth is due to end. If my maths is good that show ends its current run on November 30 meaning something new starts on December 7th. That could mean a happy December and January for us JAM fans - maybe even a Christmas themed show?

Last season? I thought there were five great shows, one okay show and two duds. The duds were those featuring Paul Merton, Sue Perkins, John Sergeant and Liza Tarbuck. The show can carry one turkey on the panel but not two, and I'm afraid, jolly as they both are, Liza and John are just not good at this particular game. Doesn't make them bad people but there we are. It's a mystery to me how Liza keeps getting asked back as she does - she just so seldom has anything humorous to say and isn't competitive enough to remain active. These comments go for John times 10 and I suspect he is off any potential list of Nicholas replacements. The Edinburgh shows were better than they've been for many years. Having three experienced players in each wasa big help and as debutants John Bishop and Stephen K. Amos were among the better ones in recent years.

The great shows were the ones featuring highly experienced and capable teams. Paul, Graham, Gyles and Jenny - then Paul, Tony, Sheila and Ross - seven very very good players, true stars of the game. Also seven complete contrasts in the way they play the game. The game needs to keep rejuvenating itself in terms of talent, but sureky there must be some sort of lesson here - great players make great teams and great shows.

In that context, the panel in Salford saw the very welcome return of Kit Hesketh-Harvey, a player with one of the most original and arresting styles, a great improviser, a poet in the way he conjures up word pictures. And this recording apart, he's only done one other recording in the past three years? Surely he deserves to appear more often than say Liza Tarbuck or Charles Collingwood or Shappi Khorsandi?

On the other hand, Alun Cochrane is one of the least capable players of recent times. I will reserve final judgement until I hear the two programmes but I can't think that he was a good choice to come back - how about Robin Ince or Chris Addison or Justin Moorhouse? (If my geography is correct, it's basically in Justin's area.)

It was great to see Nicholas getting inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. He also turned 87 recently. I think he sounds like a man in his 50s or 60s still, but he is beginning to look his age. He seems to have an ever-increasing list of gigs and I suppose he feels while he is getting work, is enjoying it and is healthy, there is no reasoin to retire. Perhaps he would like to do a Tommy Cooper or an Eric Morecambe and die on stage? There was an incident in one of the shows last season where he appeared to completely lose his train of thought. That got some on the blogs chattering about how he was finally going senile. I take a more sympathetic view - it seemed to me that he played up his mistake for comic purposes.

Still, he did lose it, albeit briefly. I don't hold it against him too much - I sometimes lose my train of thought. We all do.

Nevertheless I wouldn't want him to slowly deteriorate on air. Whether or not you agree with all of his decisions, Nicholas's high level of concentration, timing and mental agility over the years has been a feature of the show over the years. It would be nice to have him retire while people are asking "why he's going" rather than "why he stayed so long". The BBC will be reluctant to push him, of course. I hope people like Paul Merton and Tony Hawks - the grandees of the current show - can recognise too the time when it might be right to suggest a farewell round of shows for the great man.

Finally a note for JAM fans outside the UK who are missing their weekly dose. Two shows also worth watching are currently on British screens. QI is back and in my opinion, the shows this year are the best yet. Ross Noble has appeared on a couple so far. Have I Got News For You is also back. It remains very funny but to my way of thinking Paul Merton is a bit quiet so far this season so the show hasn't been as funny as it has been at its best. Do a search on YouTube and the current shows will come up.


Blogger Bill said...

Aww.... Shappi is great entertainment on the show! Very different style to the rest of them and a great improviser! :) I'd like to listen to her do more shows and settle into it more.

I would guess that the bookings for the panellists are somewhat down to availability and topicality as well.

8:37 am  
Anonymous Bern said...

I'm going through the last season and just listened to the Sergeant episode and I loved it! I like his style, although I suppose it was the other guests with their constant interruptions that made it for me.

When Nicholas loses it, it is a beautiful thing.

I very much enjoy your post-match analysis, so more! more!

10:44 pm  

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