Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

November 26, 2011

The TV series recordings are done

Time for some thoughts on the TV recordings recently completed. Obviously the final say will be when we all see the programmes on TV.

Nevertheless there are some things we can say.

Firstly, the producer of the TV series, Andy Brereton wrote to me last week. He sent the nice pics that I have put up here, and also made a few brief comments about the TV recordings that will be of interest. I don't think he'll object to me relaying that he describes himself as a huge fan of the radio show and he says he has tried very very hard to honour the show. I know that the radio show's current producer, Tilusha Ghelani, has had some involvement in the TV show too.

By the way, Andy has offered to chat to me about how the TV show came together so if anyone has any POLITE questions about the TV shows, please send them and I'll ask.

I think too that you can see the radio influence in the casting. Here's the panellists since Clement Freud's death by appearances, including the radio shows recorded but yet to play. I've bolded those who have been in the TV shows.

Paul Merton 56
Gyles Brandreth 23
Tony Hawks, Sue Perkins 18
Graham Norton 14
Julian Clary 12
Jenny Éclair 11
Josie Lawrence 10
Sheila Hancock, Liza Tarbuck 8
Pam Ayres, Charles Collingwood, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Shappi Khorsandi, Ross Noble 6
Stephen Fry, Rick Wakeman 4
Alun Cochrane 3
Marcus Brigstocke, Kevin Eldon, Fi Glover, Dave Gorman, Phill Jupitus, Miles Jupp, Ian McMillan, David Mitchell, Justin Moorhouse, Chris Neill, Tim Rice, John Sergeant, Terry Wogan 2
Stephen K Amos, John Bishop, Jason Byrne, Janey Godley, Richard Herring, Russell Kane, Fred MacAulay, Pauline McLynn, Mike McShane, Paul Sinha, Suki Webster 1

So of the top 10 since Clement's death, only two didn't appear. But Sheila Hancock is in a stage play on the West End and Jenny Eclair is doing panto. So maybe they couldn't do the TV shows for timing reasons. Personally I would have had both of them on if they were available. Of the next group, on six shows, Ross Noble is in Ireland I believe, and Pam Ayres is touring New Zealand and Australia. So maybe the timing is the key to them not doing the TV shows too.

Now here are the casts for the 10 shows organised by number of appearances.

* Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Graham Norton and Sue Perkins
* Paul, Tony, Gyles Brandreth and Liza Tarbuck
* Paul, Graham, Sue and Phill Jupitus
* Paul, Gyles, Liza and Miles Jupp
* Paul, Sue, Marcus Brigstocke and Ruth Jones
* Paul, Sue, Marcus and Stephen Mangan
* Paul, Julian Clary, Stephen Fry and Shappi Khorsandi
* Paul, Julian, Stephen Fry and Russell Tovey
* Paul, Josie Lawrence, John Sergeant and Jason Manford
* Paul, Shappi, Jason and Hugh Bonneville

Look down the list and apart from the bottom two, there are at least three very experienced players of the game in each show. And Paul as an anchor panellist. This is a very good sign.

The problem for a lot of the TV shows in 1994, 1995 and 1999 were the panellists that really didn't know how to play the game. Some were good at picking up on mistakes of others, but had nothing to say when they got the subject. Some were excessively pedantic. Some seemed lost. In the second show in 1994, there were three people playing for the first time plus Tony Slattery in his fourth show. The game is difficult - it needs people who know how to play it. New people need to be introduced with players who do know how to get the balance between being competitive and being pedantic, and are also able to improvise.

The newcomers - Hugh Bonneville, Ruth Jones, Jason Manford, Stephen Mangan and Russell Tovey - are all either comedians or comedy actors and they're all people who do already do comedy panel shows. They're all people who could well have been on the lists of the radio producers for doing the radio show. That doesn't guarantee success on Just A Minute, but it's a good sign.

The only show I'm a bit concerned about is the one with Paul Merton, Shappi Khorsandi, Jason Manford and Hugh Bonneville. Shappi is not an especially strong player, and Jason and Hugh are new. Jason has a pile of panel game experience so hopefully he will be okay. Still I would have kept Josie Lawrence on the second panel at that recording as she is such a good player these days.

But let's be honest - if Paul Merton is at his brilliant best, these will be funny shows. It's noticeable that all of the audiences seem to have loved the shows. Of course its the fans who will have turned up but I have yet to see anyone who came away from one of the recordings disappointed.

I see Andy is described as being from "BBC Comedy Entertainment Development". Does this mean that if these shows are successful, it could "develop" into something more? If he does agree to a chat, I'll ask him!


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