Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

March 24, 2011

Too competitive?

With her appearance last week, Sue Perkins brought up 38 appearances on the show - making her equal third among women on the radio version. Only Sheila Hancock and Andree Melly are ahead of her, though if you include TV appearances both Wendy Richard and Linda Smith are still to be passed. Sue is now equal with Jenny Eclair, but can perhaps regard herself as ahead of Jenny as one of Jenny's shows was the 40th anniversary clips programme and another was as a guest subject setter on the 35th anniversary special.

On the Yahoo group, Sue has occasionally been the subject of debate. Not everyone warms to her. Humour is a personal thing - some say simply that they don't find her funny. The other main argument seems to be that she is too competitive.

It's a perennial complaint of course. Some people disliked Clement Freud's style because he was seen as wanting to win too much. Paul Merton and Gykes Brandreth also get criticised for being too keen on scoring points.

I think some competition is a necessary part of the show being a success. The gear of failure, of hesitating or repeating something adds to the tension of the show. And many of the funny moments come from challenges of deviation.

It can go too far and I think some of the TV editions don't work because there are too many trifling challenges and no-one is able to speak for more than a few seconds. The panellists are particularly good at not interruptinmg someone who is being funny.

But bringing it back to Sue - her winning rate of 21 percent is not all that impressive. Of current panellists, Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Sheila Hancock, Gyles Brandreth, Tim Rice, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Julian Clary, Ross Noble, Stephen Fry, Marcus Brigstocke and Josie Lawrence all have a better win rate. But Sue's win rate has gone up a lot in the past two or three years as she has played far more frequently so we should expect that to improve.

I do find Sue very funny and she is second to only Paul in the banter and the ability to take someone else's lines and build on them. And it's the banter and repartee that provides the comic high points.

When Sue gets the subject she always has something to say - she is never just filling in time - and it is always leading to comedy. I think she's great and I look forward to her appearing on the show a lot more often.


Anonymous Perra Dox Esq. said...

I also do like Sue very much, and would marry her twenties and seventies counterparts - on sight. :)

8:41 am  
Anonymous Perra Dox Esq. said...

I´m a bit curious how dear old Rick Wakeman has been liked so far, he seems very skilled on the rules but not as much on the humour, he seems to take the game in a more serious style. Also the first one with Terry "Once sidekick to cuddly Ken" Wogan felt very forced, funny though, but for all the wrong reasons.

8:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more I hear Sue the less I like her, but I can't put my finger on exactly why. It's not her competitiveness, or her frequent political statements. I loved Linda Smith and she was competitive and political. Perhaps it's because she feels the need to put people down - recently she talked about the countryside and had to bring up UKIP out of the blue, or when she had the subject of wags and she implied they're a bunch of chavs. (Sheila Hancock earned my eternal devotion for her gentle and classy rebuke of Sue on that episode.) Or perhaps it's Sue's false-modest way of putting herself down on some subjects, when really she's taking the opportunity to bash others.

2:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, Sue Perkins is fantastic.

8:14 am  
Anonymous Mike Garland said...

Really think Sue is excellent!

9:14 pm  

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