Friday, 20 June 2014

The Slow Death of a Good Radio Show

Since 1975 or 76 I have listened regularly to 'Just a Minute,' the wonderful radio panel show hosted by Nicholas Parsons. In fact Parsons has hosted every show since the first one way back in 1967.  The basic rules are simple.  Four panel members are given a subject, often obscure, and they must chat about this for one minute without hesitation, repetition or deviation.  This is of course much harder than it seems and at times has produced an excellent half hours worth of laughter.    
Throughout the show wit, repartee and a quick response has been the regular order with occasional bits of smut thrown in, usually by Clement Freud or Kenneth Williams.  Now however this programme has become a sad shadow of itself.  Wit is replaced by constant smut and the old fashioned seaside postcard 'dropped drawers' humour abounds.  Julian Clary and his one joke alongside Gyles Brandreth and his gay obsession reduces the programme to a low level, Brandreth being the worst offender.  He does indeed possess talent and ability to speak well but insists on jokes 12 year old's would not find funny yet appears with monotonous regularity on the show these days.  When the attempt to televise the show was attempted yet again recently it appeared more like 'Just a Gay' rather than 'Just a Minute,' the BBC liberal agenda being more important than the programme or the viewer.  That flopped as such programmes do on TV but the present show is a poor reflection of what was once humour at its finest. Wit, banter and laughs, sadly usually missing today.  Maybe this reflects society, maybe it reflects the small group from whom all panelists are chosen.  I myself have lost interest and Radio comedy is a lot less funny than it has been in the past.  Very sad that.   



Jenny Woolf said...

I haven't heard the programme for ages, but I remembered it as being very funny - but mainly because the team were so quick thinking. I can't remember what the jokes were actually about. Like on "Have I got News for You" on the TV.

Mike Smith said...

Just a Minute used to be very clever but, as you say, its standards have dropped somewhat. Nicholas Parsons is still going strong at 90 - there's hope for you yet...

soubriquet said...

Oh yes, I so agree.
I've listened to "Just A Minute" for more years than I can remember. Back in the eighties, when I was a self-employed studio potter, radio 4 was the background to my day, and "Just a Minute" was one of the highlights.
Recently I've been listening over the interwebs, and I am so disappointed, the current stars, with possibly the exception of Paul Merton, lack the style, the wit, the panache, and definitely the erudition of earlier incarnations. Nowhere in today's shows, is there the verbal virtuosity that used to be displayed in the days of Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo, Kenneth Williams, Clement's delivery was droll, lugubrious, he would toy with the rest of the panel, daring them to challenge him for hesitation, his stories, and those of Nimmo and Williams, were often so intricate that nobody wanted to challenge, because everybody wanted to hear them in entirety. Those old-timers had lightning wit, and cunning guile, sadly lacking in modern times.
I agree with you on the BBC's gay agenda. I am not any sort of fan of Julian Clary, and as for Graham Norton, and 'Lily Savage'

For.... oh, much of my life, I have, out of choice, had no television, much preferring to listen to radio, or read a book.
When in recent years, I watched the beeb in other people's homes, I was shocked at the dumbing down of the network, and the rush to hire camp presenters.
Now Kenneth Williams was a master of the camp aside, and indeed of bona polare, "Hello, My name's Julian, and this is my friend Sandy", he was gay, portrayed the campest characters you could imagine, and was also tremendously witty, unlike Julian Clary and Graham Norton.

I wish the Beeb would play a few of the old episodes so we could see the difference.

Adullamite said...

Jenny, Indeed the folks used to be very clever, witty and fun. It is sad now.

Mike, You call that still going strong....?

Soub, I agree with almost all of that. Merton is still good but the overall prog is not worth it now.