Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

August 13, 2014

best wishes to a good friend and a RIP

Regular readers of this blog will have read mentions of my good friend Keith Matthews. Keith is a longtime fan of Just A Minute. He  has regualrly attended recordings going back to the 1970s, and many of the recordings that circulated from me were actually recordings from him - recordings he took off the radio as long as 30 to 40 years ago. We've been corresponding for 13 years and on my visits to the UK in 2002, 2007 and 2011 he was very very kind to me. We travelled together to Stratford-on-Avon to see a recording, but sadly Keith became ill just before the recording so I went alone.

So one of my life ambitions - to see a recording with Keith sitting beside me - remains an unfulfilled ambition.

In the past year, Keith, who is also a good friend of Nicholas Parsons, has been helping Nicholas with research for the book. I'm sure his help has been invaluable in getting the facts correct.

Regular readers of this blog will know Keith often posts in the comments with commentaries on recent recordings. His love, passion and enthusiasm for the show always shines through.

The reason for posting this today is that Keith has just posted in the past hour that his mother passed away a few days ago. I'm deeply sad by this news. Keith has been an assiduous son through his mother's illness in recent years.

Keith, I'm so sorry to hear this. I know this will be such a difficult time for you. I do hope you're coping, and will look forward to seeing you in London in early September. And I have only the best memories of your Mum.


Anonymous Lord Salt said...

With the strong trio of Paul Merton, Gyles Brandreth and Sue Perkins - I hoping those recordings were good - and that Frank Skinner and Josie Long added to them...

The Edinburgh recordings have been, for me, more misses-than hits (panel-wise) during the past years.

2:07 am  
Anonymous Lord Salt said...

I would like to offer my condolences to the Matthews family.

Wish you, Dean, another safe journeying to England.

And hope the publication of the book is successful.

2:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dean, I have just read your blog on the new book. Glad you liked it and I'm proud Nicholas and his editor David Wilson encorporated a lot of my ideas and suggestions of pictures, excerpts and sections for the book. I love your Q and A sections. There's a lot of tough questions that would keep a regular fan busy for a couple of hours !! I took me only two days to read it too !I know what our specialist subject would be on Mastermind !! I know the reason why there was so much of the book devoted to the big 4. It was because between Kenneth, Derek, Clement, Peter and with Nicholas' superlative chairmanship they established the show as a classic comedy show. The last of the Big 4 Clement only left us in 1999 and between them they left a golden legacy of laughter and humour that encorporates 32 years of work. Paul has inherited the keys of this comedy castle and his love and respect of the show is always on display. TV, theatre and other commitments have prevented his fellow panelists from appearing on it more regularly and establishing another Big 4 appearing. Maybe there will never be another Big 4 in JAM. Who knows ? I think a policy of more recent producers have unknowingly avoided establishing another Big 4 for JAM because they don't want to take too many liberties with giving more appearances to the better players. What they have done between them is establish a large repertory team of players who can be relied upon to maintain a brilliant quality of gamesmanship while bringing in new players to keep a freshness to the team. We still have Sheila, Gyles, Tony, Sue, Jenny, Graham, Julian, Josie, Alun, Russell, Liza, Pam, the two Stephens, Marcus and Ross - all of whom have not only passed their JAM talking test - they have established themselves as firm favourites with the audience.In this way the producers have kept Ian Messiter's original spirit of people-ing the show alive. As you know I did a decade of research on every aspect of JAM and all the other previous world-wide versions that preceded it. When Ian was leaving for South Africa he left a list of names of players who had excelled at One Minute Please ! Because in the 50s it was billed as a battle of the sexes he split his list into two - one for the men and one for the women. Each of these were comprised of good players and potentially good players who he considered good to be worth a chance as guests. When he returned from South Africa and he was trying to get a fourth series of OMP he typed another memo that included the names of Joyce Grenfell and Stanley Unwin.
Ian loved the challenge of taking a risk on new players alongside the established players so the show was constantly evolving and fresh. Of the last 2 seasons newbies Harry Hill has expressed a much-desired wish to me to appear on the show.He has a great regard of Nicholas' chairmanship. I remember asking you once who would you like to see on JAM and you replied 'Josie Lawrence, Mike McShane and Robin Williams. Well two out of three isn't bad. 6 months ago I sent a letter to Robin Williams and containing some c.d.'s of JAM and in my accompanying letter I expressed my hope that when next in London he should contact Tilusha or Katie and ask to be a guest on the world's longest running comedy show that not only defies passing trends in Comedy it embraces them. What a coup that would have been ! Sadly all I got was a letter from one of his assistants thanking me on Robin's behalf and a few lines about how much he enjoyed listening to the C.D.'s but he was restricted by his busy schedule.... Well I tried....
Thankyou for mentioning my Mum's passing on your blog and the kind words of your blogger Lord Salt. If it wasn't for my Mum having Radio 4 on at lunchtime I would never have heard the show that has become a most important part of my life. So thankyou from the bottom of my heart. Looking forward to being reunited at the Ivy on the 3rd of September. Lots of Love, your old chum KEITH XXXX

6:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dean, Having re-read my last blog I realise that in my hastiness to complete it and it's longevity I made a few errors. Deviation I hear you shout ! And you'ld be correct. Clement left this world in 2009 and not 1999 as I had previously written. The two newbies I am sure will get the return call-up are Jonathon Ross and Vanessa Feltz. Not sure if you will read this on your return from London or before. I know you will love Sheila's contribution to the 900th and 901st recordings. She hasn't had an outburst like that since Ken was alive. Every time she appears on JAM I am in 7th heaven. She's not lost her edge nor her ability to battle a challenge out, but what delights me is her warmth as a performer and as a gracious human being. I would love to see Sheila on the panel with Jenny and Julian - something that has never occurred but is bound to make sparks fly - both comedic and serious. I would like to open up something we conjectured about while we were on my impromptu visit to JAM associated places. You asked me 'If Kenneth was still with us, how do you think Kenneth would have reacted to Paul joining the regulars ? MY PART 2 of this debate will follow this brief pause. KEITH

6:37 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dean, PART 2 of THE GREAT KENNETH - PAUL DEBATE. Had the two of them ever appeared on the same JAM panel I think initially Kenneth would have been aanoyed by his inclusion to the team. That's how he was. He hated new faces being included into his comfortable elite.He used to be impolite to newbies to the Carry On team in the Pinewood canteen when they ventured to join the regulars for lunch. Pointedly he would remark 'This table is for established members of the team!' And on JAM Ken would have been the same. Testing Paul to the limit. Challenging on incorrect English. Historical innaccuracies... How Kenneth would have coped with Paul's brilliant flights of fantasy I dread to think. It would have required all of Nicholas'patience to re-establish a sense of fairplay. Kenneth's big weapon would have been his intimate relationship with the audience. With a raised nostril or a crocodile tear he would have had all the audience rooting for him. For the first few years of Paul's apprenticeship Paul would have had to think very carefully about how he would dare challenge the great Ken. Time has denied us the chance of what could have been some pretty explosive head-to-heads between these two leviathans of the game. With time I know Paul's skill at handling the most difficult players would have come to the fore. Kenneth would have had to like it or lump it. JAM was in Kenneth's blood, but it is also in Paul's. I'm sure that Kenneth would have warmed to Paul because Paul is by nature a very caring person who is never cruel. Once Paul had stood up against Kenneth's endless comical tirades - Ken would have realised that Paul was not going to be brushed aside lightly and that he is made of sterner stuff. What would Paul have said if Kenneth had shouted at him 'Why engage illiterates on this show if they're non compos mentis ?' I think after a well timed pause Paul might have said 'Come on now Ken ... you really shouldn't be talking about Nicholas like that !' The audience would have laughed - but more importantly Kenneth would have done one of his 'Snide' laughs and Kenneth would have replied 'No you are right ! It's wrong to mock the afflicted !.. tonight the doctor's forgot to give him his daily dosage of Queen's Royal Jelly! and it's obviously having an effect !' At Nicholas' expense the incident would have been deflected and the show would continue. Only with Nicholas could the incidents be dealt with - any lesser gracious chairman would have left the lad's to fight it out. But if Kenneth was still feeling aggrieved he might have complained to the producer (as he was wont to do) and this might have resulted in Paul not appearing more often. Some people may think that is useless in wondering about something that never happened. But for us long term devotees of the game we can't but wonder about the what if's - the New Comedy Vs The Old Comedy Guard. We were the ones who feared for the future of the show when Kenneth died. And now we are the ones that realise that with Kenneth's premature passing the show has not only flourished with Paul, it has become one of BBC radio's top comedy shows - the longest running comedy show in the world. See you Tuesday. Much love to all KEITH. XXXX

7:34 am  

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