Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

November 05, 2011

JAM on TV thoughts

Since the announcement a couple of weeks ago that JAM is returning to the TV screens, I've been fascinated by the generally negative reaction.

I've hardly seen a soul who thinks this is a good idea.

I do find this more than a bit baffling. It is 12 years since JAM has been on the TV screen and since then if anything it has been gaining in popularity. Many of the current JAM teeam are definitely more known for their TV work than their radio work. Is there any reason why people wouldn't turn their TV on to watch say Paul Merton, Graham Norton, Stephen Fry and Jenny Eclair? I don't think that there is.

Some information that may help reassure the fans who are worried about what we might see. It is pretty clearly going to be very similar in style to what we hear on the radio. I'm told Paul Merton has signed up for all 10 TV shows and that all of the JAM semi-regulars - that is Tony Hawks, Graham Norton, Gyles Brandreth, Sue Perkins and Julian Clary have all signed up to appear too. Also while TV people are in charge of the production, Nicholas and the current radio producer Tilusha Ghelani are signed up as consultants to the show. Obviously all this suggests the production team are keen to get advice from people who know how the show works.

The principal problem with the earlier attempts to bring the show to TV are that they based the casts around people who didn't know how to play the game. The second show in 1994 featured three people making their debut, as did another in the series. In 1999 the cast included someone who had never even heard of the game. And the show clearly needs an anchor, someone who can get the show back on track when it starts to get dull. Tony Slattery had a good try but having Paul there is as close as you can get to having a guarantee that the shows will work.

The reasons people are expecting this version won't work seem vague to me. I saw someone write that Just A Minute is particularly suited to radio because it means people focus on what is being said. This sounds to me like someone trying to make up a reason for me. Do people watching QI or Have I Got News For You or Would I Lie To You watch because of the beauty of the panellists? They watch to listen to the humour.

The success of so many panel games on TV shows these things can work. There is nothing at all especially visual about Would I Lie To You or QI past the pleasure of watching people talk. The same applies to countless TV chat shows. It's interesting watching people chat on The View, but if you turned down the sound, all you would see is people sitting on a couch.

It is interesting watching people chat and it will be interesting to watch JAM. In the end whether or not the show succeeds will depend on the same things as on the radio, how funny the panellists are, and how much they interact. If they do interact well, and if they are funny, the show will work.

I believe it will work.


Anonymous KEITH MATTHEWS said...

Hello Dean, What a lovely interview. Nicholas sounded 20 years younger and so enthusiastic.
The Mumbai trip is a brilliant idea. It might be an idea to contact the University that put on a special show of Just A Minute when Nicholas recorded his documentary out there (that's if replies are sparse. I seem to recall in that documentary that different cities played other city's universities at the game. HAve asked my Indian friends if they have any contacts in the colleges or unis there.Keith X

8:11 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have only seen a couple of the TV shows- both versions and I think you hit the nail on the head about it Needing experiecned panelists.
As someone who has seen the show live as you have as well- I was plenty entertained and didn't need any "extras" visualy even if the Set up was very Basic.
Sometimes the facial expressions added a bit to the but it was still the Words that counted.
I can only hope this time they stick to the Basics of the show and get as many of the experiecned players as they can. Miriam

8:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Quiz shows are cheap but entertaining television and the success of QI, Have I Got News for You, Would I Lie to You?, etc. prove the popularity of the format. At the end of the day, it's still the words, but if it brings JAM to a wider audience, that can't be a bad thing.

Melbourne, Australia

11:15 am  

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