Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

December 04, 2014

Robin Ince on JAM

Robin Ince has now blogged on his JAM experience.... http://robinince.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/my-deviation-life-a-night-of-just-a-minute/

here's the relevant bit...

I am quite relaxed now before a gig, there is just a mild tremor of expectation in the last 30 minutes before I go on (stretch that to 14 – 24 hours when trying out new shows).

But tonight, all that red raw stomach blistering is there, for I am on Just a MInute. This is an iconic show to me. A show older than I am.
And I will be on with stalwarts – Paul Merton, Sheila Hancock, Nicholas Parsons and Graham Norton. What if the subjects are given to me and I blank? What if my brain, already tired from insomnia and touring, flicks the Vs at me and says, very publicly, “no more! these neurons are sick of having to make up stuff to make you look good, we have nothing left to retrieve or fabricate or imagine in the hope that some of the words within are entertaining. Let us switch off while you bang nails into wood or do something purposeful. Build something simple and useful. Sow seeds, watch them grow.”
I told Nicholas that I had been in a room of people shouting, “It’s Nicholas BLOODY Parsons!” a mere matter of weeks before.
The last time I was on, still in the times of Freud (Clement), my brain fired on all cylinders in the first round but, on the cusp of whistle blown victory, my mind was required to retrieve the name of a sitcom, it foolishly found “Allo! Allo!”
And there was Paul, so sharp and trained in the ways of Just a Minute, buzzing in with “repetition”, only Hi De Hi could have been worse.
In the 12 hours before the recording, I constantly rehearsed possibilities. Each object I saw, whether pedal bin, paperclip or Matthew Amroliwala, I imagined Nicholas Parsons telling me, “your subject is Matthew Amroliwala and your time starts now.” As it was, Matthew Amroliwala didn’t come up on the night.
At 18.45, they all assembled in the green room, with stories of vast book launches and gigs in cathedrals, I kept quiet about my parish church gigs and lack of interest from Tesco in my horror anthology. I was diminutive, some new thing, though grey and thinning – a remnant in an Alien Resurrection specimen jar.
I was slightly tethered by fear. My mind is always busy on such occasions reminding me that I am not good enough and people are disappointed, whether The Infinite Monkey Cage or Just a Minute or some benefit gig.
It was fascinating to watch the minds of them all at work on the show, Sheila had been doing it since series 2, the year before I was born, though I am not sure I have learnt enough in the intervening years. This was once a world of Nimmo, Freud and Williams.
It was filled with the sort of good nature and apologies rarely seen on TV panel shows. Interruptions followed by apologies that “I probably shouldn’t have buzzed in, it was barely a deviation, do continue Paul”.
I was repetitively kicking myself within. Every time I snatched a subject from someone else, I managed to repeat something within seconds, though I have no idea how I clumsily repeated both DNA and Schopenhauer. As with my last appearance on Just a Minute, Nicholas looked at me on a few occasions and said, “we have no idea what you are talking about, but it’s all jolly”.
Sheila Hancock remains one of my favourite Quakers.
I was disappointed with my performance, but drank some wine and talked about Laurel and Hardy with Paul Merton afterwards. I am going to watch Blockheads now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dean, Glad you got my note on the blog about who was on Tuesday's recording. Robin Ince was like a coiled up spring and he was indeed sometimes exploding internally and wandering off into Cloud Cuckoo Land. He is more of a writer than a performer and his lack of confidence was magnified by the expertise of Sheila ,Paul and Graham. Paul selected his moments expertly and we were guaranteed with laughs. Graham indulged in more than a little bit of word elongation and this brought out Sheila to the attack. Marco Polo gave rise to many questions that no-one could answer.
Was he born in Venice ? Sheila thought he was. Did Marco ever ride anywhere on a camel ? Sheila was sure he had ? It was only when there was a mini break between recordings that a lady in the twelfth row called out "Marco Polo WAS born in the Ukraine.... when it was part of the Italian Empire!!!" This got a huge laugh from everyone. Nicholas and Sheila remembered the time when some 40 years ago Sheila had commented on the fact that there were no sweet peas blooming in the late Winter - it only resulted in many envelopes turning up to the Radio 4 offices containing frazzled remnants of decaying ex-sweet pea blooms. Surely some angry person from Oxford was going to type them a stiff letter of the same kind concerning Marco Polo, his birth-place and what he rode upon. The lengths at which some people go to prove their points !
It was lovely to have Graham back into the JAM fold. His impish playfulness was more than enough to get spark the flames of Sheila's competitiveness alight. Often she indulged in a couple of stern glares at Mr Norton that were akin to the sort that she used to bestow on the great Ken. On no less than three occassions did someone challenge when the timer had reached 00.00. and it threw Nicholas but only for a while. In the second show there were a stream of uninspired dull subjects that would have stumped lesser players. They could have originated from the 1960s.Death and Taxes one one. Sheila got quite political at one time and mentioned UKIP and her feminist beliefs - but it was all very interesting because it proved she still had strong beliefs. It was good to see the Queen of JAM aglow. When it came to the last subject which was something like The Developement of Human Evolution ( I can't recall exactly), the team groaned in unison. Nicholas considered forgoing that subject in preference to the next one. He put it to the audience and we showed our sadistic streak by shouting out "NO!". The team set off on what was one of the least inspiring subjects I've ever heard and like the pros they are they gave it their all. Tilusha said the first show will open the series around about the 9th of February - which explains why one of the subjects was St Valentine. Hope you are happy and well Dean. All the best and lots of love Keith XXXX

8:27 am  

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