Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

August 26, 2012

Sue Perkins to star in new sitcom about... Sue Perkins

Interesting news on JAM star Sue Perkins... from Chortle

Sue Perkins is to write and star in her first sitcom – a semi-autobiographical account about coming out.
BBC Two has ordered six half-hour episodes of Heading Out, which is about a middle-aged vet afraid to reveal her sexuality to her parents.
The cast includes Dawn French, Jo Scanlon, Nicola Walker and Dominic Coleman.
Perkins did not initially want to star in the show, telling trade magazine Broadcast last year: ‘I hadn’t intended to be in it but I kept being told “that’s you” – which wasn’t what I wanted to hear as I saw it as an annoying, cretinous character.’
But she said today: 'I think once the gnawing terror, sleepless nights and relentless self-doubt has subsided, this might well be the thing that I’m most proud of. It’s been a joy to work on, and I hope that joy proves to be infectious.'
Heading Out starts production in September and is due to be broadcast next year on BBC Two.
Executive producer Nicola Shindler said: 'Having known Sue for a number of years, I am familiar with her superb writing ability and natural comedic timing and I have always wanted us to work together.
'In Heading Out she has written a fantastically original, smart and witty script with engaging characters and pithy dialogue so I am eager for us to get cracking on such an exciting project.'
Although she began her career as a comic, Perkins has recently concentrated on reality shows such as The Great British Bake Off, Maestro and The Supersizers with Giles Coren.
She had kept her sexuality under wraps until 2002, when she was outed by ex-girlfriend Rhona Cameron on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

August 25, 2012

Paul and Nicholas do Q and A

this week at the Edinburgh Festival, Paul Merton and Nicholas Parsons did a qanda around the theme of 45 years of Just A Minute Master Class.

Inevitably they covered many topics that they have covered in interviews and on the Classic CDs in the past. But perhaps because they took questions from the audience, they covered many subjects that I hadn't heard discussed before.

A reader, Leslie, sent me a copy of a recording of the show.

Some points of interest.

* Nicholas was asked his favourite current panellist apart from Paul, and wouldn't answer directly but mentioned Sue Perkins, Ross Noble and Graham Norton. (I always feel Nicholas has a soft spot for Graham.) Paul also mentioned that he admired how fluent Sue was. Both also expressed considerable appreciation of Stephen Fry and Pam Ayres.

* Paul confirmed that he had made a conscious decision not to dominate the show as much as he used to and was trying not to win all the time. He said the reason was that for 20 years he'd been sitting beside Sir Clement Freud who was very competitive and he felt he had needed to be just as competitive. But now with Clement's passing, he felt the show sounded better if there was more variety and that it was better if there were others getting a good run. He said his favourite player was Peter Jones and that he was trying to ease into a Peter Jones-type role, of not talking all the time but chiming in with the funniest remarks.

* On the TV series, both felt it had been a success in large part because they had the right, experienced panellists, and the format wasn't changed. Nicholas said the programmes had had a very very high satisfaction rate (broadcasters poll on whether people like the programmes they watch) but seemed to imply that the audience wasn't as high as had been hoped, without saying it quite as clearly as I just have. Paul said that he expected there would be discussions between BBC Radio and Television about the future of the programme - he seemed to feel the BBC wouldn't want it to run on both media. Both Nicholas and Paul felt there was no reason it couldn't continue on both TV and Radio. Both seemed optimistic but by no means confident that there would be another TV series.

* Asked about the future of the programme after Nicholas's retirement, both felt sure it would continue. Asked about a future chairman, both evaded the question. Paul said he wouldn't want to chair the programme himself, but was sure someone would be found to do it. But he said whoever would do it would have to be very much in Nicholas's style and that he believed Nicholas's time in the chair would be remembered as the show's golden years.

* Paul made the interesting comment that it would be hard for the show to fail because the panellists involved are all so good at the game. He felt that made it difficult for a show to be a disaster.

It's a nice listen and they also played a few clips. It came through in bucketloads how much affection there is between the two. Nicholas delighted in recalling some of Paul's best barbs against him. Paul made an amusing comment when  he said he sometimes doesn't remember his comments on the show and then finds himself at home helpless with laughter listening to his own jokes!

August 16, 2012


a couple more shows, both featuring JAMmers David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Rhod Gilbert and Lee Mack.

first two shows this season

I really enjoyed the show with Paul, Graham, Sue and Liza - one of the best for a while, perhaps the best so far this year. There was a lot to laugh about in this show.

I also enjoyed this week's show. I thought it wasn't quite as good though. Paul was obviously feeling a bit off-colour and not as involved as he can be.

But there was a difference. Paul, Graham, Sue and Liza all knew each other and there was a real chemistry. I didn't feel quite the same this week.

Sue, Graham and Paul - hard to do a poor show with those three involved.

statistical oddities

in the show this week both Pam Ayres and Charles Collingwood went the full 60. Although not unprecedented by any means, in these competitive days it is less frequent than it was.

Pam Ayres has now gone the full minute uninterrupted 5 times, which is a very good performance from her in just 17 shows. The only ones to have done it more often are the five regulars - Clement Freud, Peter Jones, Paul Merton, Derek Nimmo and Kenneth Williams - plus Sue Perkins.

Speaking of which she brings up 50 shows this season - and Paul brings up 300! After that he moves up past the other regulars. In two or three years he should pass Kenneth Williams and be second only to the great Clement Freud.

Final stats point - Paul Merton is not winning as often as he used. He may soon drop below 60 percent. I think he definitely dominates less than he used to. You may or may not think that a good thing...

being new

When Claire Jones took over producing Just A Minute, Peter Jones had just died and it was a year since Derék Nimmo's death. Over the following couple of years she brought in some newcomers who have gone on to become regular guests in the show - Sue Perkins, Ross Noble, Liza Tarbuck, Chris Neill and Charles Collingwood were all introduced in this time and all are still associated with the programme. She also brought back Sheila Hancock, Wendy Richard and Gyles Brandreth, all but Wendy being successful.

But since then, they've continued to bring in new people but it's proved far more difficult to make the splash necessary to go on with it.

Here's a list of people to have debuted in the past 10 years. There's a lot of people here. But only a few have done more than 10 shows. Is it too hard for people to break into the JAM family?

17 shows: Marcus Brigstocke
15 shows: Josie Lawrence
12 shows: Shappi Khorsandi
7 shows: Alun Cochrane
6 shows: Janey Godley (includes one not yet aired), Phill Jupitus, Pauline McLynn
5 shows: Dave Gorman, Miles Jupp (includes one not yet aired), Dara O'Briain
4 shows: Chris Addison, Jack Dee, Ian McMillan, David Mitchell, Justin Moorhouse, Victor Spinetti, Rick Wakeman
3 shows: Bill Bailey, Rob Brydon, Richard Herring, Owen O'Neill, Paul Sinha
2 shows: Cyrus Broacha, Jason Byrne (includes one not yet aired), Kevin Eldon, Rhod Gilbert, Fi Glover, Jason Manford, Mike McShane, Anuvab Pal, Kate Robbins, Terry Wogan
1 show: Stephen K Amos, John Bishop, Hugh Bonneville, Hannibal Buress (not yet aired), Jo Caulfield, Lynn Ferguson, Robin Ince, Ruth Jones, Russell Kane, Sean Lock, Lee Mack, Stephen Mangan, Russell Tovey, Tim Vine (not yet aired), Suki Webster

and here's another question

who from that list would you like to hear on the show more often, maybe even get into the next level of regular guests? Just pick four (and let's not include Marcus, Josie and Shappi, they're already at that level).

For me my four would be Chris Addison, John Bishop, Russell Kane, Lee Mack and David Mitchell.

What? I can't count? Hey, I'm running this show! :)

Julian Clary on Celebrity Big Brother

JAM star Julian Clary is on Celebrity Big Brother this season.

This clip has him going in the house today and includes the famous clip about the then Chancellor of the Exchequer

I'll keep an eye on what happens!

August 15, 2012

Edinburgh panels

shows recorded today featured Paul Merton, Gyles Brandreth, Janey Godley and Hannibal Buress

and Paul, Gyles, Jason Byrne and Tim Vine.

Both Hannibal and Tim sound like interesting newcomers!

August 06, 2012

JAM back again

Monday night at 630 with Paul, Graham, Sue and Liza.

According to the Radio Four website there are just six shows this season though the BBC earlier advertised four recordings...

August 04, 2012

Paul Merton on Edinburgh

from the Daily Telegraph

Edinburgh. Auld Reekie. Athens of the North. And home of the world’s greatest arts festival. Where better for a hungry young stand-up, with a few gigs for southern softies under his belt, to properly launch his career?
At least, those were my thoughts back in the summer of ’86, as the InterCity 125 hurtled northwards from King’s Cross towards the city of my dreams and my dreams of comedy stardom. Except it didn’t quite work out that way. My earliest experiences of the Edinburgh Fringe were studded with accidents and terrible events. Most of them life-threatening.
For as long as the Fringe has existed, it’s been de rigueur for performers, desperate to fill the 25 bum-numbing seats of their tiny, hidden-away venues, to race around between gigs plastering every inch of available wall space with posters. Thus, soon after I arrived in 1986, I found myself somewhere off the Lothian Road, helping a friend put up ads for his show. It was about midnight.
Suddenly, a bunch of guys came around the corner and decided they didn’t like the look of us. I was knocked to the ground and somebody started kicking me in the head. Mercifully, whoever it was was wearing trainers and no serious damage was done, but it was a horrible experience, and I still felt pretty shaken up as I went on stage the next day.
What happened the following year was even worse. I was doing a one-man show, and the opening night went pretty well. Then, on day two, I went out, played a game of football, fell over and broke my leg. They took me to hospital, put my leg in plaster and discharged me. But, of course, the place I was renting was five floors up with no lift. So I had to go and stay with a friend in his ground-floor flat.
And still the fun wasn’t over because I then contracted hepatitis A. Later, the doctor said: “To be honest, you probably caught it off the food in here.”
Whenever you go to Edinburgh as a performer, there’s always a chance that you’ll “die” on stage, as they say; I’d never imagined I might literally die there. Still, those intimations of mortality didn’t put me off – we’re a tough breed, comedians – and I go back every year.
Since 2004, I’ve been taking a show called The Impro Chums to the Fringe. There are five of us – Richard Vranch, Lee Simpson, Mike McShane, my wife, Suki Webster, and me. I love the camaraderie of working in a team like that, and going on every night for two or three weeks to do improvised comedy is great for me because it keeps me match fit for things like Have I Got News for You on television, and Just a Minute on Radio 4.
And, as a performer on the Fringe, it’s wise to keep yourself in reasonable shape. My advice would be always to ensure you’re less drunk than your audience – and to get enough sleep.
We’ve been recording episodes of Just a Minute at the festival every year since the early Nineties. Once we were due to do a show at 11am, and I made the mistake of taking the sleeper train from London the previous evening. The compartment was too small and I got no sleep at all, with the result that, when we began the recording, the voice in my head that usually says “shut up now” wasn’t there.
I started doing a lot of strange stuff, and at one point I attempted an impression of my fellow panellist Clement Freud, who was sitting next to me, even though I was fully aware that he didn’t appreciate that sort of thing. Somehow, it didn’t seem to matter and I just ploughed on, doing a bizarre impression of Clement singing Robbie Williams’s Let Me Entertain You. I’m not sure he ever quite forgave me, but the audience loved it.
My advice to Fringe “virgins” would be: don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer number of shows and don’t try to see everything. Be adventurous, take risks, pick up on word of mouth.
Even if a show isn’t great, it might well be memorable. I can still recall a midnight sketch show I saw in 1980. It was terrible. In one scene, there was a girl standing there, telling the spotlight operator: “Can I have a bit more yellow light? A bit more red light? A bit more blue light?” This went on for about a minute until finally she said: “I always wanted to be in the limelight.” And the bloke sitting next to me, who had been a perfectly ordinary, polite member of the audience until then, blew the most enormous raspberry, which just started everybody around us laughing.
From then on, this wonderful camaraderie spread through the audience as we sat there watching these spectacularly bad performers dying on stage. It’s stuck with me ever since.
The Edinburgh Fringe is the best comedy festival in the world: I can’t imagine not going up there every August. It’s great for audiences, and, if you’re a talented rising comedian, it could well be the making of you. If it doesn’t kill you, of course.

and here's the extract referred to, from a 2003 Just A Minute

PAUL MERTON: Legends is a night-club in Streatham. And I was there recently to see Sir Clement Freud's one man tribute to Robbie Williams! It was a fantastic night out! For me the highlight was undoubtedly (in very good impression of Clement Freud's monotone) "let me entertain you". (normal voice) I thought this was a wonderful piece of music... 
PM: The crowd was stunned, it was fantastic! The dance routines, I've never seen anything like it, break-dancing's got nothing in it, oh it was...  

August 03, 2012

WILTY again

some more to enjoy

this one features JAMmers David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Miles Jupp and Lee Mack

and this one has David, Rob, Lee and Jason Manford

and this one stars David, Rob, Lee and Hugh Dennis