Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

December 16, 2012

2012 player rankings

The sixth annual JAM player rankings.

This year, including the TV shows, there were 32 shows and 35 performers. That's a lot and although we have a lengthy wait between seasons, we certainly had a lot of fresh JAM to watch this year.

The stats on appearances this year look like this

Paul Merton 28
Sue Perkins 10
Gyles Brandreth 8
Tony Hawks, Graham Norton, Julian Clary, Jenny Eclair, Liza Tarbuck 6
Charles Collingwood, Marcus Brigstocke, Alun Cochrane 4
Josie Lawrence, Miles Jupp 3
Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Ross Noble, Stephen Fry, Pam Ayres, Shappi Khorsandi, Greg Proops, Kevin Eldon, Cyrus Broacha, Richard Herring, Paul Sinha, Jason Manford, Anuvab Pal 2
Janey Godley, Phill Jupitus, John Sergeant, Jason Byrne, Hugh Bonneville, Hannibal Buress, Ruth Jones, Stephen Mangan, Russell Tovey, Tim Vine 1

For those interested in how I've ranked people in the past and checking out how good my picks were...

click here for 2011 rankings

click here for 2010 rankings

click here for 2009 rankings

click here for 2008 rankings

click here for 2007 rankings

For those who want to know how good I was at picking who wouldn't be back - two out of four.... not my worst performance. But not good.


Hugh Bonneville - hard to watch without thinking of his butler role, Hugh didn't make much of a contribution. But he looked impressive.
Hannibal Buress - It seems like a good idea to get an American accent on JAM but Nicholas wasn't joking when he remarked it seemed as if no-one had told Hannibal anything about the game. He had nothing to say and no skills at the game.
Jason Byrne - (2011: won't be back) Bizarrely brought back after last year's terrible performance. He again had nothing to say and couldn't go more tha  a few words without breaking the rules.
Ruth Jones - Seemed nice but didn't have the skills to make much of an impact.
Anuvab Pal - One of the two Indian guests and very jolly and jovial, and got into the spirit of things. But certainly out-classed.
Greg Proops - (2007: won't be back) Greg's now done 11 shows without his quick wit and improv skills ever coming through. Hard to say why, but surely can't get another run.
John Sergeant - (2010: won't be back) An unusual case. John has the skills to play the game - he is articulate and can talk for periods without being buzzed, and he's competitive. But he just isn't all that funny and in these times when the show is full of quick-witted comedians, he stands out likme a sore thumb.
Russell Tovey - Became something of a running joke on his one show, but because of Nicholas, rather than his own efforts. Must have wished he had stayed home.


Cyrus Broacha - The better of the two Indian participants with some good lines.
Alun Cochrane - (2011: had some moments; 2010: had some moments; 2007: won't be back) Alun's interesting because he always has something funny to say when he gets the subject, but he's not competitive enough to get the subject very often. Still he may well get better if he plays the game more often.
Kevin Eldon - (2010: won't be back) A bit like Alun above, Kevin doesn't get into the game that often - but when he does, gee, he can talk. Hard to stop when he has the bit between his teeth.
Janey Godley - (2009: won't be back; 2008: won't be back; 2007: let's hear more) One of her better showings, Janey isn't a star at the game, but her accent and good humour adds to things.
Phill Jupitus - (2011: average; 2008: average; 2007:had some moments) Just the one showing on TV, Phill looked a bit uncomfortable alongside motor-mouths Paul, Sue and Graham. But you get the feeling he would get better and better at the game if he was on more often.
Miles Jupp - (2011: won't be back) Miles is articulate and can be fun, but perhaps not quite often enough.
Jason Manford - Looked good on his two TV appearances, feisty and fun.
Tim Vine - Good fun and a good attitude on his one Edinburgh showing, let's hope he gets another chance soon.


Charles Collingwood - (2010: average; 2009: average) Charles is popular among the fans with his unique chatty style being a contrast to many others. You don't exactly laugh out loud though when he gets the subject, he's better on the banter.
Richard Herring - (2009: had some moments) A second and third run for the comedian and I thought he was a solid contributor on his shows.
Shappi Khorsandi - (2011: had some moments; 2010: had some moments; 2009: average; 2008: won't be back) I'm warming to her as she seems to be someone who makes fun of herself in a vaguely Aimi Macdonald sort of way, which is always good fun.
Stephen Mangan - The best of the newcomers this year, he just seemed to fit in and was articulate enough not to be overshadowed by his fellow panellists.
Ross Noble - (2011: let's hear more; 2010: silver; 2008: 5th) Ross is still capable of moments of brilliance but he didn't quite warm up this year. He needs to be back on the show more often.
Paul Sinha - (2009: won't be back) Like Richard Herring, he was a good contributor on his two shows, and had some good moments.
Liza Tarbuck - (2011: average; 2010: won't be back; 2009: had some moments; 2008: won't be back) Liza still goes long periods without speaking but I think I'm finally warming to her. She's jolly and can be funny and she has an infectious giggle. I like her.


Pam Ayres - (2011: had some moments; 2010: average; 2009: average; 2007: let's hear more) Developing a style that is all her own, Pam doesn't have much to say on her shows, but you keep waiting for her to speak because she's so different and warm and yes, funny. I wouldn't mind hearing her more often - she's only get better and she is such a contrast to the Merton style.
Marcus Brigstocke - (2011: let's hear more; 2008: let's hear more; 2007: silver) A stand-out in India and also very good on the TV shows. We need to have him on more often.
Stephen Fry - (2011: average; 2009: let's hear more) One of the best ever, he wasn't at his brilliant best in his two TV shows. But still better than most, with that rich voice, wit and intellect.
Tony Hawks - (2011: average; 2010: let's hear more; 2009: average; 2008: let's hear more; 2007: average) I thought this was one of his better years recently and he could easily have made the top five. He could still be getting better.
Kit Hesketh-Harvey - (2010: average; 2009: let's hear more; 2008: average; 2007: average) For whatever reason, he seems to be a bit on the outer with the producers these days. Yet he is always very funny, and witty with that literate style full of metaphors that makes him stand out from all the others. Surely he should be on again in the next series.
Josie Lawrence - (2011: 4th; 2010: let's hear more; 2009: had some moments; 2008: won't be back) Perhaps not quite at her best these days, but still full of fun and competitive spirit. She will just get better and better and every time she appears she lights it up.
Graham Norton - (2011: 5th; 2010: let's hear more; 2009: 5th; 2008: bronze; 2007: let's hear more) One of the stalwarts who is always strong whenever he appears. But perhaps could be even just a little better.


5th best
Gyles Brandreth - (2011: let's hear more; 2010: bronze; 2009: 4th; 2008: let's hear more; 2007: bronze) Has developed into a fine player of the game, always on form and more inventive than he used to be. 
4th best
Jenny Eclair - (2011: let's hear more; 2010: 4th; 2009: let's hear more; 2008: let's hear more; 2007: had some moments) Was near her best these days. Can't open her mouth without being funny and did two shows in each of the radio seasons. 
Bronze medal
Paul Merton - (2011: champion; 2010: champion; 2009: silver; 2008: champion; 2007: champion) There's a sense in which Paul should always be the champion as he plays so much more often than anyone else. I gave this a bit of thought though because I genuinely thought Paul wasn't at his best some of the time this year. He himself says he is trying not to dominate as much as he used to, but I feel as if we don't get quite so much of his surreal humour and sarcastic wit as we used to. Still, Paul in third gear is better than just about everyone. He's still a star but I decided to put him in the middle of the stars this year.
Silver medal
Julian Clary - (2011: bronze; 2010: 5th; 2009: let's hear more; 2008:4th; 2007: 4th) A great year for Julian who has become a mainstay of the show, appearing in seven of the last eight seasons. Finally seems to have mastered it and his two TV shows displayed him at his camp best - sharp on the buzzer and plenty of laughs when he speaks. A show with Julian in it is a guaranteed winner.
Champion of the year
Sue Perkins - (2011: let's hear more; 2010: let's hear more; 2009: bronze; 2008: silver; 2007: let's hear more) The medal this year must go to Sue Perkins who does so well every time she plays. Not all the fans seem to like her, but I can't really understand why, because she is brilliant at the game, frighteningly fluent and fabulously witty. She's great at all aspects of the game and just gets better and better. If Paul, Sue, Gyles and Julian are the new "gang of four" the show is in very safe hands.


Blogger dagi said...

Excellent review of the year, thanks Dean.

Of course it's all personal opinion and as such there is no right or wrong view, but....

a) Ruth Jones - I think she deserves an invitation to JAM on the Radio (rather than TV) - she showed promise.

b) Tim Vine - For a JAM newbie, I think you're being a little mean with your rating of him. IMHO, he made an excellent debut and deserves to be at least in the "about average" category.

c)Liza Tarbuck - I warmed more to LT when I saw her on the TV version. I think she should be in the "Let's hear more of them" group.

d) My Top 5 would be:
5 - Tony Hawks
4 - Graham Norton
3 - Gyles Brandreth
2 - Julian Clary
1 - Paul Meton

1:35 am  
Anonymous Sebastian said...

Again, just my personal oppinion:

Julian Clary grates on me a bit. He is much improved on his very early form, which was terrible. A matter of taste I suppose. Graham Norton and Shappi Khorsandi are two of my favourites. Pam Ayres is not entirely suited to the competitive side, but she is such a pleasure to listen to with her turns of phrase and wide use of vocabury when in flow. It is a shame Sheila Hancock was absent. Sue Perkins is very good.

5:13 am  
Anonymous Peter Katt said...

As a fan in the United States, I agree that it was a pleasant surprise to hear an American accent when Hannibal Buress was on, but I winced at his performance. I suppose if they want to include an American, they're limited by who's available. JaM is a tough game to play, and even a talented comedian might find it difficult to think fast enough to be both funny and competitive.

8:05 am  

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