Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

September 27, 2012

wilty again

more Would I Lie To You videos

this one features JAMmers David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Terry Wogan and Lee Mack

and this one features David, Rob, Lee and Stephen Mangan

and this one also features David, Rob, Lee and Stephen

nicholas and paul at edinburgh

the file I referred to here can now be found here... listen now before the account expires.

September 16, 2012

Nicholas Parsons on Comedy World Cup

along with Shappi Khorsandi, Jo Brand and Jason Manford

September 12, 2012

extended run

the BBC schedule had been suggesting this current season was six shows, but it's now been extended to eight.

That will mean 32 JAMs this year - including the 10 TV ones - and 35 people have played the game this year. Both numbers are a record.

I expect after the two remaining shows we won't get anything more till 2013. Or will they try and mark the actual 45th anniversary in some way? Would be nice to think so.

Julian is out!

Julian Clary has been speaking out about his time in the Big Brother house - I enjoyed this interview in the Express

THE first thing Julian Clary’s mother Brenda said to him when he spoke to her on the phone after getting out of the house was: “Don’t let it go to your head.”
For her part she thought the third-placed ex-EastEnder Martin Kemp would win and she even forgot to vote for her son. But he reckons she’s enormously proud of him really which is just as well because he regards her as his best friend after his boyfriend Ian and he himself is overjoyed.
“I know it’s just a TV show but winning really does mean something to me,” the 53-year-old comic and novelist tells me the morning after his victory in Celebrity Big Brother.
“It’s not like winning something instant like a race. It was a great feeling being one of the last ones in. You would see them leaving the house one by one and start to get excited and you’d wonder when your turn would come. But I genuinely didn’t think I would last more than a few days and then I thought I’d be off. And then I won and it still hasn’t really sunk in yet. It is such a strange environment because you go from this quiet little house out into fireworks and music and crowds cheering.”
Clary, who made his name in the Eighties with an act called The Joan Collins Fan Club and then almost destroyed his career with an illjudged quip about an unmentionable act involving Tory politician Norman Lamont, turned out to be a surprisingly restrained contestant. Despite his outrageous persona he was essentially a quiet housemate who put on his best performances in the Diary Room or when indulging in high camperie with former Coronation Street star Julie Goodyear as the two of them bitched about the other housemates.
“My plan for life in general is to avoid confrontation and that’s what I tried to do in there,” he says.
“I joked about The Situation [US reality TV star Mike Sorrentino] being a bit dim, calling him The Occasional Table. But I’ve discovered there is something interesting about everybody if you are prepared to get to know them.”
He could certainly be barbed. He said taking to the floor with glamour model Danica Thrall was like “dancing with a shopping trolley” and nominated Eurotrash royal Prince Lorenzo Borghese for eviction because “he’s got something contagious called dullness and I wouldn’t want anyone else catching it”. 
But he also showed his caring side with Goodyear, who is registered disabled. He always made sure she had everything she needed and often brought her tea and meals. He also stuck up for her when the rest of the house had turned against her.
“Julie sees things differently and I love that about her,” he says. 
“She is a difficult creature but that’s what makes her so interesting. I am quite good at handling people and bringing out the best in them. It hurt when she left the house as there was no one left who could see things from a camp point of view with me. I was a bit lost and bereft.”
The pair have exchanged contact details and he is looking forward to entertaining her to tea at the 16thcentury farmhouse in Kent – once home to Noël Coward – which his friend and neighbour Paul O’Grady persuaded him to buy six years ago.

He could even foresee working with Goodyear. “If someone offered me a Julie and Julian show? Just you try and stop me,” he says.

He has fond memories of other housemates too, including runner-up Coleen Nolan – although he says he will be careful not to have her and Goodyear over to tea at the same time after their Big Brother bust-ups. He says his most unlikely friendship was with Olympic judo athlete Ashley McKenzie. 
“He is just very sweet and funny. He said he and Harvey [MC Harvey of the group So Solid Crew] will come and see my tour when it arrives in London.” 
His biggest anxiety about taking part was his fear of being locked in. 
“I suffer from claustrophobia and the idea of being shut into places fills me with fear,” he says. 
“In fact I can’t understand how anyone hasn’t got claustrophobia. In the house you are locked in a lot in different ways. At bedtime, they put the window shutters down and then they lock the bedroom door. One day I even got very claustrophobic in the garden. Although it’s outside you are completely closed in and it’s very clear there is no way out.”
He had several chats with producers about these fears and they delegated someone from the production team to watch him sleeping in case he panicked and needed to get out. 
“It was reassuring. They promised they would unlock the doors for me any time I needed and I actually put it to the test a couple of times, once when I had a bit of a stomach ache and wanted to go to the kitchen,” he says.

Otherwise his chief concern was the obvious one about the 24/7 cameras which did not turn out to be as bad as he expected. 
“I thought I wouldn’t be able to stand not having any privacy and I might end up walking out because it drove me mad. But funnily enough it’s not the things you think are going to bother you that are the problem in there because in the end you are all in it together,” he says.
“The serious part of being a housemate is the fact that you can’t control your own emotions in the house. For example Big Brother will throw a party and everyone is happy and upbeat. But then the party will finish abruptly and you will be called to the living room and asked to nominate each other face to face. Then suddenly the emotions change to fear . I cannot even think how the civilian Big Brother contestants cope when they are in there for 13 weeks. I really admire them now.”
He thought Ashley or Coleen would win and his tears when his victory was announced were a mark of his shock, he says. 
“I was the last man standing. I don’t carry on like that emotionally more than once a decade but it just came out.”
He says his agent is delighted with his victory and they are both hoping it will bring in a younger audience to his UK tour, which begins on Friday and runs until the end of November. After that he is looking forward to returning to what he claims are the four ghosts at his atmospheric old house, where he has a cleaner and gardener but is proud that he does his own shopping.
“I like to feel up my own apples and oranges,” he says.

His aim in taking part was to show the nation he could behave normally and doesn’t talk entirely in double entendres. 
“People have a perception of me that it’s just a constant stream of filth but I thought it would be interesting to show a different side,” he says. His greatest comic turn in the house was a task in which he had to read a bedtime story to his fellow contestants and had them in stitches with his outrageous double meanings. He is glad it didn’t put the public off.
“It’s dangerous to draw comparisons between one successful reality show and the state of homophobia in Britain or to say that my win means that this country is becoming more liberal,” he says. 
“But it certainly hasn’t done the gay community any harm. Seemingly people weren’t horrified by me even when I was being my usual vulgar self.”

September 08, 2012


JAM semi-regular JULIAN CLARY has won Celebrity Big Brother!

Here's Channel Five's description of his time in the house...

What a winner! Our flairy comedian pipped Loose Woman Coleen to the post and walked away with the Celebrity Big Brother 2012 crown.
Julian was rather stoical during his time in the House, keeping those pursed lips tightly closed during times of high drama, preferring to observe the crazy shenanigans from a distance, occasionally piping up with a quip when the urge overtook him. Accused of those who nominated him of being withdrawn and ice-cold, Julian may have seemed aloof to some, but he certainly made himself a handful of friends during his stay.
The best of these was Julie Goodyear. On launch night, Mr Clary made a beeline for the soap queen and it was a friendship that was set to last. The pair joined forces for the Talent Agents task and spent a spell in a pedalo together for Big Spenders. The former Corrie star could often be found making wry observations with Julian, mainly in the bedroom where they tended to retreat away from the hubbub.
Tasks were certainly something of a strong point for Julian, both comically and physically. He and Coleen entertained the television audience during the BBTV shopping channel task. Particualr highlights included the edible pants and facemask episodes. Jules also triumphed during Hello Sailor when he led his team to victory aboard the good ship Clary.
His bedtime story had the housemates in stitches and was so laden with innuendo it was a wonder he could lift the book.
Julian's other notable in-House relationship involved The Situation. The comedian and the reality star didn't gel, with Julian refusing to use Mike's nickname and preferring to call him 'The Occasional Table', delighting a large chunk of the audience. He saved a lot of his best bon mots for the Diary Room and often let Big Brother know he didn’t have much time for Samantha claiming, “she said something interesting last week.”
He came, he saw, he observed and he chucked out one-liners like there was no tomorrow. Hopefully, as he'd hoped, he widened his circle somewhat. Even if he didn’t, we enjoyed watching him immensely.
What a winner!

Just A Minute - best of 2012

the next CD is to go on sale on 4 October.

Here's the link to the ad on Amazon.

Featured performers are Paul Merton, Jenny Eclair, Tony Hawks, Gyles Brandreth, Sue Perkins, Julian Clary, Ross Noble, Marcus Brigstocke, Greg Proops, Richard Herring, Paul Sinha, Cyrus Broacha and Anuvab Pal.

Sadly there doesn't seem to be any fresh "classics"coming out though the classic Paul Merton CD was released in late July and the classic Kenneth Williams CD is also to be released in October. But these are of course repackagings of the Anniversary Classic Collection released last year.

September 07, 2012

next chairman

after watching Celebrity Big Brother I have decided that the ideal person to replace Nicholas when the time comes would be...


That is all.

September 04, 2012


This blog isn't one of those fan blogs always hungering after the good old days. I don't think Just A Minute has "jumped the shark". The days of Kenneth Williams, Derek Nimmo, Clement Freud and Peter Jones were great days. But current players Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Graham Norton, Gyles Brandreth, Sue Perkins and Julian Clary are also great players and I think the last few years have been tremendous and consistently very very funny.

But I think the quality of the shows this year has been inconsistent. There have been some good ones but there have also been some disappointing ones.


Well, I think Paul is not as dominant as he once was. We also don't seem to be getting as many surreal absurdist moments as we used to. And less Paul will usually mean less laughs. He sometimes sounds a little bored with the show, though he says he 'still loves doing it.

I also feel the show is missing Clement Freud. His contributions were distinctive, very different to the stand-up comedians. And although he is remembered as ultra-competitive, his witty remarks delivered in that dry voice were memorable and added to the texture of the show.

But the main thing, I think is the number of people appearing who just aren't any good at the game. It's a difficult game to play and to do it well you need three skills, I think.

* You need to be fluent - able to keep going for a while without hesitating and too blatantly repeating yourself.
* You need to be competitive. You don't need to win every week but if you can never pick up on someone else's mistake, you're not going to get much air time.
* And you need to have something to say when you have the subject. Preferably something funny, but something clever or interesting can work. But if you have nothing to say, well, you may as well not show up.

You can be reasonably successful without being fluent or especially competitive. Take Chris Neill for example, who seldom if ever spoke for more than 10 seconds without stopping. But he always had something funny to say when he got the subject and was always challenging so he remained good fun to listen to.

But if your mind freezes as Nicholas says "starting now", well that's a big problem.

The problem at the moment is the number of panellists who simply are no good at the game. Hannibal Buress seemed totally at sea, as Nicholas rather embarrassingly pointed out at one time. His speaking style doesn't really suit the show - he wasn't fluent or competitive but worst of all, he had nothing to say when he did get the subject.

But Jason Byrne was just as bad last year and yet got called back this year. I saw Jason's stand-up show last year and he is certainly a very funny man. But his show is well scripted, and his speaking style is not really JAM friendly as he uses the F-word roughly every three seconds. I think some of his pauses are him checking himself against swearing. He was abysmal on JAM last year and should not have had another run. He was slightly better this year, but not much.

There are a lot of people this year who have failed in the past. I love Greg Proops, one of my favourite Whose Line performers, but he has now done 11 JAM shows and has not been good in any of them. Others in this category are Alun Cochrane, Miles Jupp, Richard Herring, Paul Sinha and Janey Godley. The two Indian comics, Cyrus Broacha and Anuvab Pal also weren't quite good enough either though that was obviously a special occasion. I am also a bit unhappy about Alun and Kevin Eldon being invited back for the recording last week.'

Miles Jupp is an example of someone who is fluent and competitive but just doesn't have much to say when he has the subject. Janey is very very funny in her stand-up and certainly on Twitter, but she just isn't funny often enough on JAM.

Below is a list of players from the past three years who are worth hearing from again Let's hope some of these folk are back on the show in the next season!

Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Sheila Hancock, Graham Norton, Gyles Brandreth, Sue Perkins, Julian Clary, Jenny Éclair, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Ross Noble, Stephen Fry, Pam Ayres, Marcus Brigstocke, Phill Jupitus, David Mitchell, Justin Moorhouse, John Bishop, Russell Kane.

more WILTY

time for some more Would I Lie To You

this one features JAM stars David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Rhod Gilbert and Lee Mack

and this one features David, Rob, Lee and Bernard Cribbins

don't laugh too hard!

celebrity big brother

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, see here, JAM semi-regular Julian Clary has been appearing in the latest series of Celebrity Big Brother in the UK. Others involved in the series include Coronation Street star Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch), Jersey Shore star Michael Sorrentino (The Situation) and rapper MC Harvey. Some kind person is putting all the shows up on YouTube within an hour or so of transmission, and so I've been following the series.

Julian is still in the house. He has been quiet but funny in a bitchy way having struck up a good relationship with Julie Goodyear. He is popular with the other housemates although he doesn't seem quite so enamoured with them!

The show has only a few days to go and I think Julian has some chance of winning though Harvey and Olympian Ashley McKenzie are more likely winners.

JAMmers to have appeared in previous series are Sue Perkins and Jack Dee (who won the first series).

In New Zealand they used to show the Australian Big Brother series and I used to enjoy that. Two big differences though - the amount of smoking and the amount of swearing! Just about all the housemates chain-smoke all day - including Olympian Ashley! And (sadly) including Julian. And all the swearing including frequent use of the F-word is uncensored as it was in Australia and New Zealand. (Here Julian seems  not as foul-mouthed as many.)

Anyway it's been a really interesting series and if you are interested in learning about Julian and seeing him in pressure situations, look in on him here. I was interested to hear that Julian knew he was gay at the age of nine and that he has continuing mental health issues.

Let's hope he can win and blow away those health issues!

September 01, 2012

latest panel

according to a tweet from the recording last night the panel included "Tony Hawks, Jenny Eclair, Kevin Eldon and one other chap - sorry I can't remember his name".

A poster in the comments says it was Alun Cochrane.