Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

February 06, 2019

website, the long absence and falling out of love

You may or may not have noticed that I have been very poor at updating the website. There was a time when it was a source of pride to have every new edition of JAM added within hours so it's obviously very slack to have fallen so far behind.

There's a few things in play here. As a practical thing - the website was created a long time ago in another era. In fact it celebrates its 20th birthday next month.

It was originally created using a Geocities website maker... if you can now even remember what Geocities was, you have a remarkably good memory. The tools involved have long since passed on, and now every time I update the site, it involves a lot of boring time-consuming pain-staking work, copying chunks of code from place to place, and page to page. The size of the site is a factor too - every show involves amendments to dozens of pages. So amendments take a long time to do and are not much fun any more.

Then there's the personal factor that 2018 was a tough year for me. My father was ill for most of the year and in November, he died. This has been a difficult time.

Another personal factor is that I have been genuinely struggling with what seems like a small point - how to deal with the 50th anniversary documentary broadcast at the beginning of 2018. There's the issue of whether to include the chat show programme as a genuine edition of JAM. This may seem a minor matter, and of course it is. However at some point soon JAM will broadcast its 1000th show and at that point there will be interest in which show that is. I think my site will have some influence on which show is listed as the 1000th.

A factor in this - although I guess it shouldn't be - is how to deal with my own involvement in the documentary. There seems something, well, boastful to include my name alongside so many great comedians and entertainers. If It had been anyone else, it would be far less of a problem.

But perhaps most interestingly I am slowly falling out of love with JAM. There was a time when I would have been desperate to talk about such a major development as Nicholas missing shows and Gyles Brandreth chairing in his place. I find myself thinking about things like this, but not getting on to writing about it at the blog.

Some of the things I used to love about JAM have gone. Kenneth Williams obviously, but what used to make JAM stand out, even when Kenneth wasn't there, were the challenges to the chairman, the arguments over the rules, the straight out abuse of the chairman. Nicholas is now almost always referred to now as a living saint. Of course he deserves this, but the jokes about his age, his incompetence and so on were part of what made JAM fun and different. The idea of the audience as a participant has also slowly died, in part I think because the hall where JAM is now recorded has the audience some distance from the panel. The best improvisation feeds off the audience and I think it is harder to do this if you're not among them.

So where to from here?

Well I have a few weeks off and so I am going to try and get the site up to date. Once I've done that I will try to pen a few thoughts on JAM in 2018 and the chairing of Gyles. I'll try to be better at keeping up to date, and hope you'll forgive me when I cannot.


Anonymous Julian Bishop said...

Interesting blog, Dean.

I think I am also less interested in JAM than I once was. There was a time when I listened to it live on radio in the 1970s and 1980s. In the UK, radio 4 on Mondays at 6.30pm. There were no podcasts, no streaming & no (easy) way of sharing recordings among friends. There were only 5 radio stations and only 3 TV stations. There were only a handful of comedies on TV or radio every week. JAM stood out. I looked forward to every new episode.

There is now so much more competition. I would definitely prefer to watch Would I Lie to You or Cats Does Countdown (to name just two). I could probably list a dozen comedy formats that are funnier than JAM. It doesn't mean to say that I don't still like JAM, just that it doesn't stand out like it once did.

Tastes change too. New generations of audience want both different things and more diverse set of offerings. Using the analogy of test cricket (of which, I know you are a fan), the new generation favours a different - less subtle - form of entertainment. Although the game can change a bit, perhaps not as much as it needs to in order to really captures a new generation of audience. When I used to attend shows in the 1990s, there was a wide age range in the theatre audience. I wonder if that is still the case today.

I think the (deserved) demise of Clement's reputation also has taken the shine of JAM's history. He appeared in most of its episodes. Somehow, JAM is cheapened because of his actions.

I hope you do continue to update the site. Once upon a time, I did read (or even print off) the transcripts. I don't do read them now. It's interesting to see the statistics though.

12:19 pm  
Blogger nylon said...

G'day, Dean. I feel your pain with the big, old website that becomes so intricate and cross-linked that any small addition takes an hour to make sure all the cross-references are updated and no duplicates have been added. My Sabrina site started 20 years ago with Netscape Navigator and has had at least 3 rebirths and complete rebuilds as software has come and gone. I remember agonising about adding a 6MB movie clip because - how could the public possibly cope with such a massive download? Now I can grab an HD movie in the time in the time it takes to sneeze.
Please let me know if you need any help with transcriptions etc. Maybe others in the Yahoo group can join in and get them all done quicksmart?

Mark Kelly, Jam Jar master.

1:21 pm  
Blogger dagi said...

Hi Dean,

I found your post interesting and well written, although a little sad too.

I'm still listening to JAM but I agree that the show is not what it was or at least my enjoyment of it isn't quite like it used to be.

I wonder whether BBC should consider retiring JAM when it reaches episode 1000 and tie this into the retirement of Nicolas. Surely it's better to go out on a high...and then one day, with new panel members and chairman JAM can return and be revitalised. Like Dr Who :-)


9:22 am  
Blogger rbonotto said...

I seem to be one of the few who never much liked Kenneth Williams, for the most part because he kept making the same jokes every week. And listening to the JAMmer or other streams of the shows. if it's one of those with him I sometimes switch to another radio show for a while. (sorry.) When I tell other people about the show, I usually tell them to try the shows from 1995-2000 first. I do regret a bit that subjects are now rarely concentrated on instead of making sure the audience keeps laughing continuously, but I still enjoy the show in general.

5:12 am  
Anonymous Paul said...

I love JAM. I was happy to find the database. Simply because I was wanting more knowledge about it. I think Nicholas is amazing, and Gyles is the best guest.
I would like to be an audience member, but the BBC are very hard to work with on that front.

Hopefully you can update this site in the time you have. It's a tough task I'm sure. But be assured there are plenty of us out here who would appreciate it.

2:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too, have fallen out of love with JAM over the last year, I think they have tried too many guests which are new to it and 'most' of them haven't took off...

I will continue to listen but probably through the best of compilation cds which get released each year...

Some of the guests lack character voices, I love Pam Ayres and Ross noble along with Paul and Tony Hawkes (and others), they have some character to their voices and comedy whereas I find some of the newer ones are cut and paste and generally unfunny and find it hard to improvise.....

anyway good luck to you and sympathies with your Father....

10:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can understand how updating the site would be tedious and time consuming. So... unlike others commenting, I'd say this: stop updating it. It shouldn't be a chore and make you unhappy.

There's nothing wrong with stopping and you're not letting people down. Maybe you pick it up again later, maybe not.

Try to enjoy the show, write a blog post sometimes and share your thoughts and opinions, and most importantly, relax.

9:05 pm  
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6:10 pm  
Blogger Porochaz said...

Hi Dean,

Even though you have not updated things in a while, I am sure you have heard todays sad news and I can imagine being such a fan it will be quite difficult. I hope that you are okay and wanted to take a chance to thank you for providing this resource over the past however many years. You got me back into JAM a large number of years ago and I will be grateful for that.


5:24 am  
Blogger Mr Smith said...

Well said Porochaz.
Thinking about you Dean.
Thank you for all the work you have done. In regard to your last post, as much as I appreciate this site, You come first. If you leave it as it is now no one can complain

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10:10 am  
Blogger dagi said...

Hi Dean, I just wondered if you've listened to the first two new JAM's with guest hosts. Have these piqued your interests in the programme again? It would be great to know your thoughts on what I hope marks to be a brand new era in this classic comedy.


8:10 pm  

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