Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

January 09, 2011

Never heard of it

One of the revelations in Nicholas Parsons' book is about the 1999 TV series. The BBC produced 20 JAMs for an afternoon audience. The shows were recorded over a week in Birmingham and the panels give every indication of being brought together quickly with little thought. JAM regulars at the time such as Paul Merton and Clement Freud, and other experienced players like Graham Norton, Jenny Eclair, Tim Rice, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Stephen Fry, Julian Clary, Tony Slattery and Fred MacAulay were not involved when surely experienced teams would have been better to achieve success on the programme.

Anyway Nicholas claims that one of the people who turned up to play had not even heard of the programme before. I am curious about who this could be.

The players who hadn't played the game before were Pam Ayres, Clare Balding, Isla Blair, Ken Bruce, Michael Cashman, Tom O'Connor, Steve Punt, John Sergeant, Brian Sewell and Gary Wilmot. So who do you think was so outside Radio Four and radio comedy listening that they had never heard of Just A Minute?


Anonymous Sebastian X said...

I think I watched pretty much all the JAM episodes from both attempts to televise it. The first attempt for commercial television messed with the format too much, introducing teams yet players played individually, introducing a round where they talked about a provided object, and featuring too many players that seemed all a bit confused about the format, especially about challenging one's team-mate, which always gave a point to one of them but often the one challenged seemed upset to be interrupted by someone supposedly on their side. The BBC afternoon series was better, but never felt entirely comfortable.

I do think a television audience would enjoy Just A Minute but attempts to turn it into a TV programme have failed and probably would fail again. My solution would be to not turn it into a TV programme but film the radio-recordings and show those.

This is something that used to happen with Radio Four programme, My Music (featuring chairman Steve Race, and team-captains Frank Muir and Denis Norden, as was the case for its sister radio-program, My Word, these details all being subject to the accuracy or otherwise of my memory). Incidentally, I was no big fan of the programme, but one day to my surprise I caught it on BBC 2 whereby it did just did seem to be a filming of the recording of the radio-shows to create a TV series. Similarly, not that long ago, I watched a TV programme that was the filming of an episode of 'Clue being made in front of an audience.

If I was at the BBC with the decision-making capability, for every recoding of JAM, I would have it filmed by maybe three or four cameras, tell the makers and participants of the show to ignore the filming and just concentrate on making the radio-show, then edit the TV-footage to match the radio-version (bearing in mind that the programme over-records and then edits down to the length), and show those on maybe BBC Four. It would make cheap TV, capture the fun, and probably appeal to more viewers than most output on that station that for whatever reason never get around to listening to the show.

Basically, it is a radio-show good enough to be on TV, but trying to turn it into a TV-show does not work, so put it on as a radio-show on the telly, and I think that would work.

7:12 am  

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