Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

December 11, 2011

Dean's JAM rankings for 2011

My fifth annual ranking for all the players this year - this year there were 23 players used over 22 shows, slightly down on last year in both respects.

Here's the stats on appearances this year.

Paul Merton 18
Gyles Brandreth, Tony Hawks 8
Julian Clary, Graham Norton 6
Sheila Hancock, Josie Lawrence, Sue Perkins, Rick Wakeman 4
Shappi Khorsandi 3
Pam Ayres, Marcus Brigstocke, Jenny Eclair, Stephen Fry, Fi Glover, Phill Jupitus, Miles Jupp, Ross Noble, Liza Tarbuck, Terry Wogan 2
Jason Byrne, Alun Cochrane, Russell Kane 1

So to my rankings.

They won't be back next year

Jason Byrne - Patronised robustly by Nicholas, Jason was no good at the game and the rules just didn't suit his style of comedy.
Fi Glover - She seemed nice enough but a bit in awe of her big-mouthed competition.
Miles Jupp - Miles was very good at the game and even won the second show once he had warmed up, but didn't seem to have anything of interest to say when he did get the subject.
Terry Wogan - One of that list of people who were comnpletely abysmally bad at the game - stand up Elaine Stritch and Thora Hird - but were still very funny. Still the joke probably won't work again.

They had some good moments

Pam Ayres - Pam's unique style didn't provide as many giggles as usual.
Alun Cochrane - Likeable and able to improvise in a reasonably amusing way without doing anything to suggest he'll be back soon.
Shappi Khorsandi - She seems nice and can be funny, but not often enough.
Rick Wakeman - Really good at the game but not strong in the humour department.

About average

Stephen Fry - By his own high standards Stephen wasn't as funny as he has been on some of his other appearances. But still very good.
Tony Hawks - One of those long-serving players who is a reliable contributor but I feel he isn't as consistently good as he was a few years ago.
Phill Jupitus - A very funny man, he needs to appear more often to hone his JAM skills.
Russell Kane - Funny in his first appearance which he won. A possible future star or a one-off fluke? We will see, I hope.
Liza Tarbuck - Two of the best shows she has had though still not one of the funnier performers.

Let's hear more of them

Gyles Brandreth - Arguably the second banana on the show now to Paul, Gyles has clearly sharpened his style and is now original and competitive and very funny. I should have had him in my top group.
Marcus Brigstocke - Only two shows but was as funny as ever, we need to hear him more often.
Jenny Eclair - Very amusing and a great contributor, one of the best ever.
Ross Noble - Only did two shows and was warm and witty, but perhaps not at his brilliant best.
Sue Perkins - Quickly becoming one of those reliable people who we all enjoy seeing on the panel list.

Stars of the year

5th best - Graham Norton - Close to his hillarious loquacious best.

4th best - Josie Lawrence - She gets better every time she is on and I think is a real star of the very near future.

Bronze medal - Julian Clary - Just fits in like a glove these days, always funny and great with the banter, and he knows how to play the game too.

Silver medal - Sheila Hancock - After 44 years on the show, Sheila may just about have been at her all-time best this year. Very funny and full of authority.

Champion of the year - Paul Merton - Still a champ and still the best player in just about every show.

For those interested, here are my previous rankings...

2010 - click here for full commentary

They won't be back next year: Kevin Eldon, Dave Gorman, Fred MacAula, Liza Tarbuck, John Sergeant.
They had some good moments: Stephen K. Amos, Alun Cochrane, Shappi Khorsandi, Ian McMillan, David Mitchell.
About average: Pam Ayres, John Bishop, Charles Collingwood, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Justin Moorhouse, Chris Neill.
Let's hear more of them: Sheila Hancock, Tony Hawks, Josie Lawrence, Graham Norton, Sue Perkins.
5th best - Julian Clary.
4th best - Jenny Eclair.
Bronze medal - Gyles Brandreth.
Silver medal - Ross Noble.
Champion of the year - Paul Merton.

2009 - click for full commentary here.

They won't be back next year - Jack Dee, Janey Godley, Josie Long, Pauline McLynn, Mike McShane, Paul Sinha.
They had some good moments - Richard Herring, Josie Lawrence, Helen Lederer, Tim Rice, Liza Tarbuck, Suki Webster.
About average - Pam Ayres, Charles Collingwood, Sheila Hancock, Tony Hawks, Shappi Khorsandi, Chris Neill.
Let's hear more of them - Julian Clary, Jenny Eclair, Stephen Fry, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, David Mitchell, Justin Moorhouse.
5th best - Graham Norton.
4th best - Gyles Brandreth.
Bronze medal - Sue Perkins.
Silver medal - Paul Merton.
Champion of the year - Clement Freud.

2008 - click here for full commentary.

They won't be back next year - Lynn Ferguson, Janey Godley, Shappi Khorsandi, Josie Lawrence, Liza Tarbuck.
They had some good moments - Chris Addison, Rhod Gilbert, Robin Ince, Ian McMillan,
Mike McShane, Owen O'Neill.
About average - Jack Dee, Dave Gorman, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Phill Jupitus, Fred MacAulay, Chris Neill.
Let's hear more of them - Gyles Brandreth, Marcus Brigstocke, Jenny Eclair, Clement Freud, Tony Hawks.
5th best - Ross Noble.
4th best - Julian Clary.
Bronze medal - Graham Norton.
Silver medal - Sue Perkins.
Champion of the year - Paul Merton.

2007 - click here for full commentary.

They won't be back next year - Jo Caulfield, Alun Cochrane, Maria McErlane, Pauline McLynn, Greg Proops.
They had some good moments - Jenny Eclair, Dave Gorman, Phill Jupitus, Maureen Lipman, Neil Mullarkey.
They're about average - Clement Freud, Tony Hawks, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Fred MacAulay, Dara O'Briain, Tim Rice.
Let's see more of them - Chris Addison, Pam Ayres, Janey Godley, Graham Norton, Sue Perkins.
5th best - Chris Neill.
4th best - Julian Clary.
Bronze medal - Gyles Brandreth
Silver medal - Marcus Brigstocke.
Champion of the year - Paul Merton.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dean,
Loved your selection of magic minutes and what magic memories they brought back to me. Having seen so many of the shows in which these full minutes occurred I believe the secret of being able to confidently do the sixty seconds is for the speaker to be 'in their groove'.This involves being at one with the situation and talking at a pace they feel at home with. It also involves being at one with your subject and having lots of info at hand (if the subject is historical) or having been inspired with alternative verbal routes to take should you suddenly find the route you are taking becomes exhausted of things to say.

As you say the Master of this was Kenneth Williams, whose total mastery of his craft at comedy enabled him to be so entertaining that the other panellists would not pick up their buzzers to challenge him and just sit back and enjoy watching the Just A Minute Diva at his best. Kenneth really was at home and in his element on Just A Minute, more so than in any other form of entertainment he took part in. It was a privelage for anyone to see this small man put the whole of his being into a subject.When others spoke on their subjects, they would be concentrating so hard on their microphone technique that their heads and features would be virtually frozen in a static position - but not Kenneth. The subjects he excelled at were his specially chosen historical or literary subjects or those that allowed him to speak about himself. His whole body would become animated - his face could change like a complete range of fancy dress costumier's masks in 60 seconds -the nostrils (probably the largest in the Entertainment business) would be aflare - like a greek philosopher on magic mushrooms - his hands either planted firmly in the small of his back (if he were laying down the law or stating a fact that no-one would dare dispute) or dancing like Nuryev's feet doing a pas-de-deux (if he was reciting or emoting).
As for that golden voice - it could totally entrance and bewitch.Then when he would suddenly switch (even in mid-sentance) from one accent to another - you knew you were watching the very best . With so much going on in his minute it is no wonder that so few words were actually spoken. Who else but Kenneth could make a single syllabled word last for 4- 5 seconds !!!!
Only Derek could even come anywhere near Kenneth for such animated 60 seconds.Gyles luxuriates into his minutes in a similar way.
Paul attacks his minutes like a tornado - as does Sue. Brilliant. Stephen is a crammer and loves to lecture.Graham is a comic hybrid Peter and Kenneth . When he has his reluctant headt really want to talk about! on I enjoy it when he takes so much time talking about talking about the subject that he doesn' I love Pam and Julian's subjects because they are both entertaining and you don't know what to expect.
There's lots of verbal colour in the modern Just A Minute. LOt's of love Keith X

9:30 am  
Blogger dagi said...

I'm a big fan of this blog and these end of year summaries are a must read.

But, in my humble opinion, Dean has been a touch unfair on some panellists and perhaps overly generous with others.

Pam Ayres and Rick Wakeman - surely in 2011 they had more than "some good moments"?

Tony Hawks I believe is one of the outstanding JAM regulars, who dare I say it, can even eclipse PM. For this reason he should be in the "Let's hear more of them" category.

Does Shappi Khorsandi really deserve to be put in a lower JAM division to Lisa Tarbuck? I beg to differ!

And whilst Sue Perkins can be brilliant, I'm not convinced she's top draw calibre. She's certainly a very adept player, but for my money at least she doesn't seem to create many funny discussions in the game but her tendency is to supplement those created by others.

Here's hoping 2012 will be a brilliant JAM year!


12:46 am  

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