Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

December 31, 2013

2013 player rankings

The seventh annual JAM player rankings.

This year, not including the Junior Just A Minute shows, there were 22 shows and 24 performers, not including the junior players. After a lot of thought, I have decided to consider the Junior JAM shows in assessing the adult players, but I think it would be too harsh on the children to assess their performance. Actually I thought they were all of a very high standard but inevitably if I was including them in this assessment I'd have to rate some higher than others, and I feel that's just unfair on people who are not professional performers.

24 players is a few less than in most recent years. Among those who got a gig last year but not this year: Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Ross Noble, Stephen Fry, Charles Collingwood, Shappi Khorsandi and Phill Jupitus. You could have a few good shows out of that bunch.

The stats on appearances on the regular radio show this year look like this

Paul Merton 18
Gyles Brandreth 10
Tony Hawks, Graham Norton, Jenny Eclair, Sue PerkinsJulian Clary, Pam Ayres, Alun Cochrane, Richard Herring, Stephen Mangan 4
Russell Kane 3
Sheila Hancock, Liza Tarbuck, Josie Lawrence, Marcus Brigstocke, Fred MacAulay, Kevin Eldon, Jason Manford, Patrick Kielty, Roy Walker 2Greg Proops, Henry Blofeld, Joe Lycett 1

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

click here for 2012 rankings

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 - last year I picked eight players wouldn't be back, and only one returned, luckily for me, one of my favourite comedians, Greg Proops,


Henry Blofeld - the loquacious commentator now  proving a big hit again for Australian cricket audiences, was entertaining because of his plummy voice and lack of ability at the game, and was treated very kindly by the other panellists. But it's the sort of joke that works on a one-off basis only. Henry remains in demand for cricket speeches and broadcasting, but he shouldn't stick by the phone waiting for JAM to call. 
Kevin Eldon (2012: had some moments; 2010: won't be back) Remarkably good at keeping going when he starts a subject but makes almost no other contribution. 
Fred MacAulay - (2010: won't be back; 2008: average; 2007: won't be back) For someone who has now made 16 appearances, Fred always seems like he's just making the numbers. 
Greg Proops - (2011: won't be back; 2007: won't be back) I keep predicting this and he pops up again. Maybe this year I'll be right because again it was just clear that JAM isn't his thing. 
Roy Walker - The former quizmaster had a few moments, but not enough to get another call-up.


Alun Cochrane - (2012: had some moments; 2011: had some moments; 2010: had some moments; 2007: won't be back) As I said last year - 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. He is getting better at it and he certainly has the confidence of the JAM producers. Perhaps he will yet develop into a new Peter Jones.
Richard Herring - (2012: average; 2009: had some moments) Richard tries very hard and clearly loves doing the show, he always has some good lines, and may still turn into a very good player of the game.
Russell Kane -(2011: average) I like Russell a lot and do hope to hear more of him but his shows this year were not as strong as his debut. 
Patrick Kielty - A pretty good debut from Patrick, I hope he gets another turn.
Jason Manford - (2012: had some moments) A pretty good game player though he had trouble getting a word in on Paul, Sue and Graham.


Marcus Brigstocke - (2012: let's hear more; 2011: let's hear more; 2008: let's hear more; 2007: silverPerhaps not quite as good as usual, but still a very welcome addition to any panel.
Sheila Hancock - (2011: silver; 2010: let's hear more; 2009: average) It's always a special show when Sheila's on, just her presence seems to lift proceedings. 
Joe Lycett - A very good debut for this witty young performer.
Liza Tarbuck - (2012: average; 2011: average; 2010: won't be back; 2009: had some moments; 2008: won't be back) Jolly japes from Liza as always, she's a good egg.

Tony Hawks - (2012: let's hear more; 2011: average; 2010: let's hear more; 2009: average; 2008: let's hear more; 2007: averageIt's always nice to hear Tony on the show and there's always more than a few laughs from him.
Josie Lawrence - (2012: let's hear more; 2011: 4th; 2010: let's hear more; 2009: had some moments; 2008: won't be backShe's turning into a great performer and hit just the right notes with the younger performers on Junior Just A Minute.
Stephen Mangan - (2012: average) I really like the way he gets stuck in to the game and has plenty to say. Loses nothing in comparison with the professional comedians and improvisers. 
Graham Norton - (2011: 5th; 2010: let's hear more; 2009: 5th; 2008: bronze; 2007: let's hear moreThe charming and gifted talk show host is always a very strong contributor with his original style of comedy. 
Sue Perkins - (2012: champion; 2011: let's hear more; 2010: let's hear more; 2009: bronze; 2008: silver; 2007: let's hear moreI didn't think she was quite as good as she was last year but there's no doubt she;s among the very best players the show has ever had.


5th best
Pam Ayres - (2012: let's hear more; 2011: had some moments; 2010: average; 2009: average; 2007: ket's hear moreDeveloping into a highly entertaining player with a unique style. More please. Lot's more.
4th best
Julian Clary - (2012: silver; 2011: bronze; 2010: 5th; 2009: let's hear more; 2008:4th; 2007: 4thA great performer on the show these days, we all look forward to his appearances. 
Bronze medal
Jenny Eclair - (2012: 4th; 2011: let's hear more; 2010: 4th; 2009: let's hear more; 2008: let's hear more; 2007: had some momentsI just find her so damn funny and as with Josie, she struck exactly the right note with the kids.
Silver medal
Paul Merton - (2012: bronze; 2011: champion; 2010: champion; 2009: silver; 2008: champion; 2007: champion) The anchor of the show and a generous one. The show would sound a hell of a lot different without him.
Champion of the year
Gyles Brandreth - (2012: 5th; 2011: let's hear more; 2010: bronze; 2009: 4th; 2008: let's hear more; 2007: bronzeI think he deserves top spot this year. The days of him recycling old rhymes are long gone as this guy is genuinely creative and imaginative and very funny. It's a delight to hear how much better he has got at it and he has a style which makes him very different to all the other performers. Plenty more to come from him.
Extra Champion award
Nicholas Parsons - the man's in his 90s and is simply as good as ever. Just right on the Junior series. For a man in his 90s he is still right on top of his game.


Anonymous Tom said...

Agree Gyles has been very good this year, and Pam has grown too. What about a favourite episode? Mine would be the one from March/April with Paul, Graham, Sue and Jason which included Paris in Spring.

I'd really like to hear David Mitchell and Chris Addison on the show again; the same goes for Ross Noble.

8:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dean,
Rebecca Front's two debut shows contain some good comic moments from Alun Cochrane and Russell Kane. Both have a good rapport with the audience. Russell plays it all to the audience. From what I saw he is a Kenny in the making. Intelligent, funny, elfish and animated. When I spoke to Nicholas after the show I told him what I thought of Russell.'That lad is a Kenny in the making!' and he laughed and agreed with me. JAM is the right vehicle for him. He obviously enjoys being on it. As for Alun I think he has a lot more to offer but he when someone is on a roll he doesn't interrupt or challenge until they make an error. His comedy is surreal and at times dry.This makes it difficult for others to get involved and when he comes to an end - so does his flow of comedy. But he is getting good at the game and in the two show's that I saw - (Paul being the only long term player on the team) he was more outspoken. Nicholas was expert at drawing players into the game - giving them many opportunities to get a tag line in.
Rebecca Front was the novice but she has a warm personality. I know she can handle comedy because she was part of the Oxford Revue group which came to the Gate Theatre in 1985. Brilliant actress and can do very good comic characters. But it is tough for newbies to establish themselves on JAM with such a large repertory team of stalwart players. Without Nicholas' strong sense of fair-play it would be even tougher. Claire Jones, Tilusha Ghelani and Katie Tyrell have done an amazing job in establishing JAM newbies. I still would still like to see Harry Hill, Penelope Keith, Dame Edna Everage and Paul O'Grady as guests. I know Harry is up for it if they sent him an invite. He has great respect for Nicholas and how he handles the show. I know you would like Robin Williams as a special guest. I wrote to him and told him about JAM - the world's longest running comedy show but I have yet to hear from him....
Hope all is well with you. Have a great 2014. Best wishes Keith.

8:09 am  
Blogger Andrew Sherman said...

Am still not all the way through the last series but was shocked at how uninvolved Paul was (by his high standards). Sometimes I think he does not try if the show is going well without him. I did like Patrick Kielty's appearance.

9:36 am  

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