Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

January 27, 2010

new team

The panel for the recording a few hours ago was Paul Merton, Gyles Brandreth, Jenny Eclair and Pam Ayres. There's still one more recording this season, I think it's in the next few days.

January 22, 2010

enjoying your incompetence

One of the things I like about Just A Minute is that it can be enjoyed on different levels and played in a variety of ways.

The two skills needed for success at the game are being quick-witted and sharp enough to pick up on the mistakes of others, and being fluent enough to keep going when you're talking. Clearly not everyone is going to have both or either of those skills - I doubt I would for one!

Over the years many people have been demonstrably bad at the game. It seems to me that if that's the case you have a choice. You can think "s--t, I'm making a fool of myself here in front of a worldwide audience of millions" and try to concentrate harder - and probably end up not doing any better at all.

Or you can think "f---k it, I'll just have some fun" and decide to revel in your incompetence.

There have been several shows where guests ignored the fact that they were abysmally poor at the game and just had a hell of a lot of fun, creating very memorable shows.

I can think of four women in this category, all unlikely to get another call-up. But Thora Hird, Lorraine Chase, Elaine Stritch and Su Pollard (on TV) all created a lot of fun, all the same. Elaine in particular was terrible at the game. But her single show is Nicholas Parsons' all-time favourite and is certainly a classic, largely because of her distinctive style.

Oddly I can't think of any male one-off guests who threw caution to the wind in quite the same way.

But some players kept getting further gigs while making fun of their own inadequacies. I'm thinking of Richard Murdoch, Barry Cryer, Chris Neill, Aimi Macdonald and yes, Peter Jones - all a hell of a lot of fun and seemingly not caring all that much about their inability to get many points. Coming at the show from this sort of perspective adds variety and a different way of enjoying the show.

None of this suggests this is the only way to play the game, of course. But if I was advising any newcomer to the show I would probably suggest they not take the points too seriously. Just have fun - the listeners will pick up on that.

the season so far

I really enjoyed the first show - Julian Clary, Paul and Gyles were all in great form. Julian may be surpassing Graham as the best among the campy contestants. I like the way he gets on with his own routines and he is competitive without treading on the jokes of the others. He's good on the show.

David Mitchell was a little quiet, but he may well be better this week.

Of the other shows, the one with Tony Hawks, Josie Lawrence, Dave Gorman and Justin Moorhouse this week worked well without being outstanding. The venue - a bar! - was a good one and the audience seemed to come into the show more. Justin was very good again and Josie had some great lines as well as winning. I don't know that she will win all that many games in the future but she is a good contributor.

The other show with Paul, Josie, Chris Neill and Charles Collingwood I found fine too, but not as good as the others. I enjoy both Chris and Charles who both have distinctive styles but somehow the show never quite got the "flow" to use Kenneth Williams' old word.

Looking forward now to hearing the Paul-Graham Norton-Sue Perkins-Liza Tarbuck recordings.


If the BBC is correct - it sometimes isn't - Gyles Brandreth is about to enter the list of top 10 appearances amongst panellists.

The BBC says this week's show is the second recording featuring Gyles, Paul Merton, Julian Clary and David Mitchell.

The current top 10 (excluding Nicholas Parsons) is...

1st - Sir Clement Freud 547
2nd - Kenneth Williams 346
3rd - Peter Jones 332
4th - Derek Nimmo 311
5th - Paul Merton 232
6th - Tony Hawks 101
7th - Sheila Hancock 82
8th - Graham Norton 69
9th - Andree Melly 54
10th - Sir Tim Rice 46

Gyles is on 45, so will reach 46 this week.

I think he is beginning to sound like a fixture on the show. His banter with Paul Merton is always entertaining and I would not be surprised if Paul was recommending Gyles appear more often. In the first show this season, I enjoyed the repartee when Gyles did the joke about seeing a sign on the Underground that dogs must be carried on the Tube and it taking him half an hour to find one. Paul asked Gyles if that was his joke and Gyles admitted it wasn't. I don't know if Paul already knew that or not, but either way it was an acknowledgement of a very good joke from a comic master.

I expect Gyles will do one of the two recordings still to come this season.


I've finally finished the updating of links and changing of coding necessary to move the website.

All pages can now be found here http://just-a-minute.info and the tripod site is now being retired with the geocities pages.

It's been a long haul but good to have the website all consolidated at one venue and something like 10,000 links have been changed.

Having said that, it would be amazing if I hadn't missed the odd thing here and there. I hope anyone finding a link error or indeed some other error will let me know.

I'll now get on with updating the transcripts, adding in last season's shows. These will appear over the next few weeks.

January 10, 2010


this Monday we have Paul Merton, Chris Neill, Charles Collingwood and Josie Lawrence.

The following Monday we get Josie, Tony Hawks, Dave Gorman and Justin Moorhouse.

January 08, 2010

happy 150th!

Claire Jones brought up 150 shows as producer this week. Some time this year she should pass David Hatch to become the show's most prolific producer. Yay for her!

January 02, 2010

first 2010 post

I haven't posted much recently. That's because I've been busy bringing together the "new" website. As well as changing thousands of links, I've had to edit every page, changing apostrophes which haven't liked the move from Tripod to Yahoo. But also I have been working hard and had the blues a bit. Not sure why.

I've been listening again of course to the shows in the last season, the first post-Clement season. There are six very funny shows and four that were disappointing. I suppose that's not such a bad average, but it does make me think that the loss of Clement is a big one. We knew that I suppose, but still it's being confirmed.

The show starts again on Monday with Paul, Gyles Brandreth, Julian Clary and David Mitchell. David was both very funny and very competitive in his first two shows so I am expecting a lot from him.

Speaking of which I've listened a few times to the show he chairs, The Unbelievable Truth, one of those shows which fills time between JAM seasons on Mondays at 630pm on Radio Four. I mentioned on the Yahoo group a few months ago that I didn't find the show very funny, and just about everyone disagreed. I've heard a few more since and still feel unimpressed. The last one I heard was a special QI edition featuring Stephen Fry, Alan Davies, John Lloyd (an ex-JAM producer) and Rob Brydon. I settled down looking forward to an enjoyable programme - after all Stephen and Alan are among the funniest people in Britain.

Yet again I felt disappointed. For those who haven't heard it, it's a reworking of Call My Bluff. One of the panel reads a monologue where most of the material is fiction, but five facts are included. You win points by guessing which parts of the speech are factual.

The fun of panel shows is usually in the interaction between panellists. Call My Bluff had Frank Muir who couldn't not be funny if he tried. Later Sandi Toskvig and Alan Coren enjoyed scoring points off each other. As I said the panel was especially good - but somehow the comedy never really got started. I think the monologues go on too long or something. Anyway the Alan-Stephen double act never really came into play.

The one good thing about the show was David Mitchell who was by a distance the funniest person on the show. Most of the good lines came from him. It made me wonder if he could be the next chairman for JAM when Nicholas retires - which must surely be in the next two or three years. I have the feeling David could do a good job.

Anyway I'm off on holiday in a couple of days so may not hear the first show. It'll depend on whether I can get to an Internet cafe or not. But I'm sure it will be good and we will get 12 very funny shows this season.

Oh and this blog turns FOUR this week.