Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

December 24, 2014

Messiter family and book

There's a story in the Times quoting Malcolm Messiter saying that his family was audited by the Tax Department after Ian Messiter's death because they assumed he would have died a wealthy man for having created Just A Minute.

He says at the time Ian was getting just 11 thousand pounds a year for the rights to the show - this at a time when the BBC was already marketing CDs and tapes of the programme as well as having sold it around the world for years.

He said the BBC lifted the payment to 50 thousand pounds only when the family was approached by a commercial company offering to outbid the Beeb.

I can't link to the story as the Times has a paywall. But it's an interesting story. It does make you think how good a journalistic history of JAM could be. Nicholas's recent boom is good fun, but how good it would be to hear all about the show from the perspectives of the Messiters, the producers, the other cast members, the scorers, the technicians, etc etc etc.

December 18, 2014

panel quiz

My friend Keith Matthews has posted on my blog that the team at last night’s recording was Gyles Brandreth, Jenny Eclair, Marcus Brigstocke and Shappi Khorsandi.

Great to have Marcus on again, a real favourite of mine.

There’s another recording in London on January 23rd and another in Canterbury – I don’t have a date for that.

Now Keith has set us a challenge for a bit of fun.

He says the team for the January 23rd recording is Paul Merton, Julian Clary and “a regular guest who hasn't played it for ages”, and “an actor whose most famous character is a time traveller”.

So guesses please everyone! I’m guessing Pam Ayres and David Tennant... but post with your guesses.

And in another bit of news... it was the last recording for whistle blower Trudi Stevens, one of the more long serving production assistants. Anyone predicting we might get a bloke next time?

December 08, 2014

Kenneth interviews Nicholas

A video of Kenneth filling in as a chat show HOST and interviewing Nicholas has turned up on YouTube. Amusingly Nicholas tells Kenneth they couldn't do Just A Minute without him. He also admits to a "pompous personality". It's worth a look

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.

December 03, 2014

panel tonight

a very strong panel tonight - Paul Merton, Sheila Hancock, Graham Norton and Robin Ince.

December 02, 2014

Paul on why he loves JAM

and here he is on BBC Breakfast

JAM news

okay I have been quiet for a while but have been saving up lots of lovely news for you all.

Firstly, we have some dates for recordings – one is later today, Tues December 2nd, and the other is the 18th. I’m assuming there will be four recordings/eight shows as usual in the next season, so the others will probably be recorded in January, and the season will get under way in February.

Secondly, very exciting – a new JAM Classic Collection has been published. I know many of you will already have all the shows – but can I implore you to buy this if you can. The more that are bought, the more that get released, hopefully.

You’ll remember the first Classic Collection had 11 CDs with 22 shows. Two CDs each were themed around the five regulars and there was a bonus CD.

 This one is also themed around five players – Sheila Hancock, Graham Norton, Gyles Brandreth, Jenny Eclair and Stephen Fry – and as with the first there is a really nice cartoon of the five with Nicholas. The bonus CD has a Christmas theme. There are also potted bios of all five.

The shows all feature Nicholas Parsons of course – also featured are Clement Freud (13 shows), Peter Jones (eight shows), Derek Nimmo (seven shows), Kenneth Williams (six shows), Paul Merton (six shows), Jenny Eclair (six shows), Sheila Hancock (five shows), Stephen Fry (five shows), Tony Hawks (four shows), Graham Norton (four shows), Gyles Brandreth (four shows), Linda Smith (four shows), Kit Hesketh-Harvey (three shows), Julian Clary (two shows), Ross Noble two shows), Tim Rice (one show), Liza Tarbuck (one show), Chris Neill (one show), Steve Frost (one show), Fred MacAulay (one show), Maria McErlane (one show), Martin Jarvis (one show), Nick Revell (one show) and William Rushton (one show).

The packaging is very nice but does include one error – Graham Norton is cited as being part of a show when it should name Paul Merton.

Also the packaging thanks me and my website. Nice to get that acknowledgement.

Those interested can buy this through Amazon here
Thirdly there is also a Best of 2014 CD out – this features four shows from earlier this year. Featured players are Paul Merton (three shows), Sheila Hancock (one show), Graham Norton (one show), Gyles Brandreth (one show), Jenny Eclair (one show), Julian Clary (one show), Shappi Khorsandi (one show), Kevin Eldon (one show), Miles Jupp (one show), Paul Sinha (one show), Patrick Kielty (one show), Holly Walsh (one show), Joe Lycett (one show) and Vanessa Feltz (one show).

Again the packaging is nice but contains an error– there are 10 pics of JAM cast members on the cover which include Sue Perkins who doesn’t appear in any of the included shows.

You can buy this here

Also there is a new book out about Radio Four which has a JAM section – For The Love of Radio Four. It’s a great read and it also acknowledges me and the website.

You can buy this here.

I was also going to mention the recent BBC series, Frequency of Laughter on the hsitory of radio comedy – the 70s show includes John Lloyd talking about JAM and working with Kenneth Williams, although strangely the show itself is not named!