Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

June 29, 2011

poll update

Here's the current voting

Paul Merton 19
Ross Noble 14
Gyles Brandreth, Tony Hawks 11
Julian Clary, Stephen Fry 10
Graham Norton 8
Sheila Hancock, Sue Perkins 7
Marcus Brigstocke, Kit Hesketh-Harvey 5
Pam Ayres, Charles Collingwood 4
Jenny Eclair, Shappi Khorsandi 3
Josie Lawrence, Liza Tarbuck 2
Fred MacAulay, Tim Rice 1
Chris Neill 0

I'll still take votes for another day or so. I'm itching to comment on this, but don't want to bias the voting!

latest panel

if I read twitter correctly the panel at tonight’s recording was Julian Clary, Josie Lawrence, Phill Jupitus and Rick Wakeman. If correct, it will be the first Paul has missed in a while.

Perhaps Paul was there and two of the above – Phill and Rick perhaps – did one show each? Or perhaps Paul or someone else (Tony Hawks?) was ill and pulled out late in the piece?

Anyway interesting to have Phill on again, and also interesting that Rick has been brought back so quickly.

June 28, 2011

Poll update

Including those on the Yahoo group, we have had 20 votes in the first 24 hours - doesn't look like we will reach 100!

Running score

Paul Merton 13
Gyles Brandreth 10
Julian Clary, Stephen Fry, Ross Noble 8
Tony Hawks 7
Graham Norton 6
Sue Perkins 5
Sheila Hancock 4
Pam Ayres, Marcus Brigstocke, Jenny Eclair 3
Charles Collingwood, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Shappi Khorsandi 2
Fred MacAulay, Tim Rice 1
Josie Lawrence, Chris Neill, Liza Tarbuck 0

I do find this an interesting list. I'll keep the poll open for a few days so please feel free to add in your opinion.

June 27, 2011

more CDs coming

Two more are being released in October.

No details yet on who will be on the CDs, but you'll soon be able to hear

The Best of 2011 and Just A Minute: The Classic Collection.

Can't wait!

Poll time

Time for a poll.

Vote in the comments for your favourite panel of the current regular and frequent players.

Here's 20 of them - write in the comments or email me with your favourites and if we get at least 100 votes I'll forward the results to the BBC.

Here's the current cast - get choosing!




Julian CLARY



Stephen FRY














June 18, 2011

Julian confronts Rex Mossop

One of my other interests is Australian rugby league. And one of the great commentators of the game was Rex Mossop who died today.

Here he is in a famous TV appearance with JAM star Julian Clary...

June 16, 2011

bits of news

Four honours for JAM guests in the recent Queens Birthday Honours.

Graeme Garden was made an OBE. Graeme appeared in seven shows between 1975 and 1982, appearing with Clement Freud, Kenneth Williams, Peter Jones, Derek Nimmo, Sheila Hancock and Barry Cryer. I thought he was very funny, exchanging banter with Kenneth Williams. Graeme is still best known as the one of the stars of The Goodies, but has gone on to be an inventor of and regular on several panel games, including I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and more recently The Unbelievable Truth. I also enjoy watching him on If I Ruled The World - do a search for that on YouTube and watch him being incredibly funny.

Tim Brooke-Taylor was made an OBE. Tim appeared in three shows in 1979 and 1981, appearing with Kenneth Williams, Peter Jones, Barry Took, Clement Freud and Kenneth Robinson. He would have to be one of my absolute favourites of the short-term players, out-bantering Clement and Kenneth to win his debut show on his merits. Tim also is best known these days for The Goodies and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, but I used to enjoy him very much as a comic actor on Me And My Girl.

Bernard Cribbins was made an OBE. Bernard appeared in two shows in 1978, appearing with Kenneth Williams, Derek Nimmo and Sheila Hancock. One of the shows was included on Just A Classic Minute 6. Bernard wasn't a star at the game, but enjoyed having fun with the others and contributed to what were funny shows. He's done many different things, including Carry Ons, The Wombles and Doctor Who. But I often think of him in a very funny part in an eppy of Fawlty Towers.

Emma Freud was made an OBE. Emma appeared on one show in 1990, appearing with Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo and Tim Rice. It was a cute show with her father refusing to challenge her or disagree with her challenges against him. Her award is mainly for her charity work with Comedy Relief but she had had her own varied comedy career especially on radio.

The other bit of news - JAM's two Edinburgh recordings were among the first three shows to sell out when ticket sales opened! So if you haven't got in already, you may be unlucky. Of course JAM is also among the cheaper shows...

June 04, 2011

next season

The BBC has announced recording dates for the next season - it looks like we will get FOUR seasons this year, with 28 shows! Certainly a vote of confidence in the show.

They're going to be a recording on Tuesday 28th June and Wednesday 6th July at the Radio Theatre, Broadcasting House, London. Then again recording on Thursday 14th July at the Garrick Theatre, Castle Dyke, Lichfield, as part of the Lichfield Arts Festival. And finally recording on Sunday 14th August at the Edinburgh Festival.

So the current season finishes on June 20. There's then six fresh shows of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, and JAM resumes - it seems for eight shows - on August 8th. I'm guessing it will then be six shows of something else - probably The Unbelievable Truth, before we get more JAM in November/December.

It's slightly odd to be already halfway through the current season. The three shows so far have been very good I think. Stephen Fry and Sue Perkins were a top team this week, but I think the Paul-Jenny Eclair-Josie Lawrence-Graham Norton team is my current favourite. In just three recordings we have heard most of the top players this season and it has certainly made for very good radio.

RIP Miriam Karlin

JAM guest Miriam Karlin has passed away at the age of 85. I've thought of her as one of the more interesting guests of the first years of the show. She was best known for her part in The Rag Trade with co-stars Peter Jones and Sheila Hancock. She was also a good friend of Kenneth Williams. She wil certainly be missed.

The Telegraph's obituary...

The star, who also appeared in films such as A Clockwork Orange and Room At The Top, died in a London hospital after a battle with cancer.
She was best known to 1960s and 1970s television viewers for her role as shop steward Paddy in The Rag Trade, who punctuated the show with her call to action: ''Everybody out''.
Her friend David Pugh, the West End theatre producer, said: ''She was a wonderful woman.''
Karlin, a patron of Dignity In Dying, had also been a committed trade unionist and supporter of humanitarian causes.
Among those today paying tribute to Mim - as she was known to friends - were Lord and Baroness Kinnock.
In a statement they said: "As an actor Miriam Karlin was superbly talented in roles of every kind. As an activist for freedom she was supremely brave and persistent.
"From the Anti-Nazi League to Amnesty and One World Action to the Burma Campaign and all enlightened causes in between, Mim was always committed, energetic, productive.
"She was an unwavering Equity trade unionist and democratic socialist. Her Labour Party membership started in the 1940s and continued through alternating periods of dedicated loyalty and vituperative frustration.
"Mim was easy to love, an infectious friend, a true comrade and a sparkling spirit. She will be mourned by all who work for justice, admire creativity and enjoy fun."
The Hampstead-born Jewish actress - who lost some of her family in Auschwitz - trained at RADA, and cut her teeth as a performer with forces entertainment organisation ENSA.
She performed in rep, making her film debut in 1952 in Down Among The Z Men.
Later roles included appearing opposite Lord Olivier in The Entertainer, and she featured in an infamously brutal scene in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. As the "Cat Lady", she was beaten to death with a sculpture, a pivotal scene in the film version of Anthony Burgess's novel.
Karlin's stage roles included Golde in the original West End production of the musical Fiddler on the Roof.
But it was her Rag Trade performance for which she will be best remembered, starring in the BBC series in the early 1960s, and again for its ITV revival in 1977.
Stage work included stints with the Royal Shakespeare Company and becoming the first woman to play the central role in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker.
It was her trade union and welfare work which were recognised with an OBE.
Karlin - who never married - had been unwell for a number of years, suffering from peripheral neuropathy for a decade. And she was battling her third bout of cancer when she died.
But despite her ill health, she took to the stage as late as 2008 to appear in Many Roads to Paradise at London's Finborough Theatre.
Friend Philip Hedley, the respected theatre director, said: "She was a very brave woman and she was committed to every campaign going. She was in that great line of campaigning British left-wing actresses - along with Sybil Thorndike - who gave her her first break - and Peggy Ashcroft.
"They were down there on the picket lines. She was friends with them both and they had tremendous respect for each other."
Actor Sir Antony Sher also paid tribute today. He said: "Working with Miriam Karlin on Torch Song Trilogy was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my career.
"She gave a tremendous performance as the Jewish mother, full of power and anger, but there was always a twinkle in her eye, and I was often in danger of breaking into giggles.
"There was always laughter with Miriam. A great actress. A great lady."

and in the Guardian

The actor Miriam Karlin, who has died of cancer aged 85, became famous in the early 1960s as Paddy, the militant shop steward of a London clothing firm in the BBC television comedy series The Rag Trade. As Paddy, who was always willing to signal a strike with a whistle and her catchphrase "Everybody out!", Karlin was watched by millions, and quoted by millions. But neither that success, nor her more serious roles on stage, removed the gnawing dissatisfaction she felt at not achieving something more serious. She channelled some of that feeling into promoting broadly leftwing causes as a member of the council of the actors' union Equity, and as a campaigner for the Anti-Nazi League, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Soviet Jewry.
She was born Miriam Samuels and brought up in Hampstead, north London, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish barrister, Harry Samuels, and his wife, Céline. She revered her father, who specialised in industrial and trade union law. When she was doing one of her first radio shows, Terry-Thomas's Top of the Town, she based some of the zany characters she invented and played on people who had appeared before the rent tribunal chaired by her father.
Tall and dark, she admitted to being a "pain in the neck" as a child because she would always mimic her parents' guests. After attending South Hampstead high school and Rada, she called herself a "character comedian" and appeared at music halls, as well as touring with the Entertainments National Service Association during the second world war.
Karlin made her London stage debut in The Time of Your Life at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1946. She was later spotted by a BBC producer and, in 1950, joined Peter Sellers in the radio series Variety Bandbox, centred around a hotel called Blessem Hall. They played all the characters themselves. Among her creations were Mrs Bucket and Mrs Snitchlepuffle.
After appearing in revues at the Strand and Saville theatres, she played Mrs Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank at the Phoenix theatre in 1956. For two years she played Lilly Smith, the tart with the heart, in Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1959-60), one of London's most successful stage musicals, first at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and then at the Garrick in the West End. However, she left the cast because she felt she was getting worse, not better, in her role.
This was part of a recurring pattern of self-doubt. When The Rag Trade had been running for two years, Karlin said she would leave at the end of the second series, whatever inducements were made for her to stay. In 1962 the show made the leap – with her among the cast – to the London stage, where it flopped. However, she enjoyed her roles in a series of plays by Saul Bellow, which were staged in London in 1966. She played Golde (one of her favourite parts) in Fiddler On the Roof at Her Majesty's theatre in the West End in 1967 and took the title role in Mother Courage at the Palace theatre, Watford, in 1972.
Karlin had appeared in films since the early 1950s, taking small roles in Room at the Top (1959), The Entertainer (1960) and The Small World of Sammy Lee (1963). In 1971 she made a brief but memorable appearance in A Clockwork Orange as Catlady, who is attacked by the delinquent Alex with a phallic sculpture. In 1974 she was Aunt Rosa to Robert Powell's Mahler, in Ken Russell's biopic of the composer.
Having acquired the rights to the translated letters of Liselotte, the wife of Louis XIV's homosexual brother, Philippe, Duke of Orléans, she read from them in a one-woman show that she put on in the mid-70s. It was panned as thin and undramatic but, undeterred, she took it to Versailles, where the action was located, and to Vienna and Australia.
Karlin boasted that her artistic judgment was excellent, because every play she turned down flopped. Nevertheless, she grew more and more disssatisfied with her achievements, chiding herself, sometimes publicly, for not applying herself enough. In 1975 she was appointed OBE and, two years later, she returned to the role of Paddy in two series of The Rag Trade, still opposite Peter Jones as the hapless boss, Harold Fenner. This time it was broadcast by LWT, with less success than the original series.
The publication of her memoir, Some Sort of a Life, in 2007 revealed the full extent of her psychological and physical difficulties during this period. "Throughout my 50s the battle with my health, my weight and my addictions raged," she wrote. She had recurring back problems and peripheral neuropathy, which caused pain in her legs. She joined the Neuropathy Trust and wrote to Exit, the organisation offering advice for assisted suicide, to find out "how to depart if it got more than I could bear". Later, she was told she was in denial about her eating disorder.
None of this stopped her going on CND and miners' strike marches and refusing to pay her poll tax. When she played in The Witch of Edmonton for the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1982, a letter containing five razor blades was delivered to her. The part also required her to be beaten by other members of the cast and, without padding, she was badly hurt. She told herself that she must be "really hated".
She continued to perform on stage in her 70s and appeared on primetime TV series such as Casualty, The Bill and Holby City. In 2006, while making a Miss Marple television episode, By the Pricking of My Thumbs, she was told that she had cancer and that part of her tongue would have to be removed. She worried what would happen to her if her speech was affected. But after the operation she appeared in the demanding film Children of Men (2006) as a German grandmother. In 2008 she was in Flashbacks of a Fool, starring Daniel Craig.
Karlin said that people concerned her most – supporting "the suppressed ... those minority groups who flee from home and country because they can't live with prejudice". She was unflagging in her work for such causes, but sometimes reflected sadly that she would not have had time for it had she married and had children, which she never did. She said that she had shied away from being tied down, and that in any case all the men she knew were actors, and she would never dream of marrying an actor.
Over the years, Karlin often contributed to the Guardian's letters pages, on matters ranging from the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to broadcasting and funding for the arts. In 2008, at a meeting at the Young Vic in London, she called for a vote of no confidence in proposed Arts Council England cuts. Throughout her career she did things, dramatically and as a political activist, which made her intensely nervous, the hallmark perhaps of a genuinely courageous and life-affirming spirit.
Michael Billington writes: My abiding memory of Miriam Karlin is of her passionate political convictions. If ever I wrote a piece attacking cuts in government subsidy or the problems confronting grant-starved drama students, she would send a vigorously supportive letter. Miriam didn't just talk a good political game. She was also fervently active.
She was a remarkably versatile actor and enjoyed a great year with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982, including a voracious aristocrat in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's Money and an earthy Mistress Quickly in the two parts of Shakespeare's Henry IV which opened the Barbican. I would have liked to have seen her in more classical roles but recall a beautiful performance she gave in Ellen McLaughlin's Tongue of the Bird at the Almeida in London in 1997, as a Polish-Jewish grandmother permeated by memories of loss and separation. Above all, Miriam ("Mim" to her friends) had a fighting spirit that marked her work, both on and off stage