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Re: Paul Merton: Innovative Rebel turned Straight-Laced Conformist?

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  • kj.naughton
    Hello Jeremy, My unedited, straight-from-the-radio MP3 is already available for download at
    Message 1 of 16 , Mar 1, 2010
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      Hello Jeremy,

      My unedited, straight-from-the-radio MP3 is already available for download at http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=dcbcd47ce6474758ab1eab3e9fa335ca8012079aa16e9612

      New episodes will appear there at some point after they're broadcast so please feel free to check back from time to time.

      Cheers

      kJ

      --- In just-a-minute@yahoogroups.com, "jeremy_keens" <jeremy.keens@...> wrote:
      >
      > PS Any sign of the latest episode up?
    • irishmanufan
      well said jeremy . when i read the original post in this topic i did wonder ,if the oringinal poster was taking a joke a bit too seriously . cheers Linda
      Message 2 of 16 , Mar 1, 2010
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        well said jeremy . when i read the original post in this topic i did wonder ,if the oringinal poster was taking a joke a bit too seriously .
        cheers
        Linda
        >
        > As to KW & PM praising the chairman: the best chairman we've got or ever had were (a) a catchphrase of sorts (not unlike the double entendre of the great cult) in a show with few catchphrases, hence Paul's referencing of them and (b) they seem to always have a hint of irony & sarcasm - thus KW could be smarming up to the esteemed chair in one round and then throwing a chair at him the next (usually metaphorically)
        >
        > Jeremy
        >
        > PS Any sign of the latest episode up?
      • Maria Eugenia Garibotti
        Hi everyone, I ve read your exchanges for a while now, but this is the first time I write. I guess it s true that Paul has become a bit more of an
        Message 3 of 16 , Mar 1, 2010
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          Hi everyone,

          I've read your exchanges for a while now, but this is the first time I write.

          I guess it's true that Paul has become a bit more of an "establishment" player, but I find that he is the soul of JAM for me. I found this last episode almost unbearable, and I think it was because Paul was not there.

          And I'd like to add my voice to those who think every panelist is playing a role, and so is Nicholas.

          Best

          Maria

          On Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 6:35 AM, irishmanufan <irishmanufan@...> wrote:
           

          well said jeremy . when i read the original post in this topic i did wonder ,if the oringinal poster was taking a joke a bit too seriously .
          cheers
          Linda


          >
          > As to KW & PM praising the chairman: the best chairman we've got or ever had were (a) a catchphrase of sorts (not unlike the double entendre of the great cult) in a show with few catchphrases, hence Paul's referencing of them and (b) they seem to always have a hint of irony & sarcasm - thus KW could be smarming up to the esteemed chair in one round and then throwing a chair at him the next (usually metaphorically)
          >
          > Jeremy
          >
          > PS Any sign of the latest episode up?


        • Robert Torres
          I agree that Paul Merton has become essentially the new heart and soul for the program.  In my discussion about Paul Merton as one of the New Breed of JAM
          Message 4 of 16 , Mar 1, 2010
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            I agree that Paul Merton has become essentially the new heart and soul for the program.  In my discussion about Paul Merton as one of the New Breed of JAM Players, I pointed out that it was Paul Merton that essentially helped move the show forward in the wake of Kenneth Williams' death.  when Paul isn't on the show, certainly the show becomes something else, but I wouldn't say its unbearable.  Nicholas Parsons himself pointed out that the success of the show doesn't rest with one individual.  It usually depends on who they get on the panel and if those panelists are a mixture of experienced players and perhaps someone new, there is the potential there for something extraordinary humor. 

            --- On Mon, 3/1/10, Maria Eugenia Garibotti <garibotti@...> wrote:

            From: Maria Eugenia Garibotti <garibotti@...>
            Subject: Re: [just-a-minute] Re: Paul Merton: Innovative Rebel turned Straight-Laced Conformist?
            To: just-a-minute@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Monday, March 1, 2010, 5:54 PM

             
            Hi everyone,

            I've read your exchanges for a while now, but this is the first time I write.

            I guess it's true that Paul has become a bit more of an "establishment" player, but I find that he is the soul of JAM for me. I found this last episode almost unbearable, and I think it was because Paul was not there.

            And I'd like to add my voice to those who think every panelist is playing a role, and so is Nicholas.

            Best

            Maria

            On Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 6:35 AM, irishmanufan <irishmanufan@ yahoo.co. uk> wrote:
             
            well said jeremy . when i read the original post in this topic i did wonder ,if the oringinal poster was taking a joke a bit too seriously .
            cheers
            Linda

            >
            > As to KW & PM praising the chairman: the best chairman we've got or ever had were (a) a catchphrase of sorts (not unlike the double entendre of the great cult) in a show with few catchphrases, hence Paul's referencing of them and (b) they seem to always have a hint of irony & sarcasm - thus KW could be smarming up to the esteemed chair in one round and then throwing a chair at him the next (usually metaphorically)
            >
            > Jeremy
            >
            > PS Any sign of the latest episode up?



          • delmelza
            As a big Paul Merton I wanted some time to think about this and try to be more objective so here are my thoughts: Time mellows many people including
            Message 5 of 16 , Mar 2, 2010
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              As a big Paul
              Merton I wanted some time to think about this and try to be more objective so here are my thoughts:

              Time "mellows' many people including Perfomers-face it some performers look Silly trying to be Anti Establishment after they hit 50+

              Paul comes across in being Secure in his talent and not needing to "prove himself" all the time.


              Paul like all of us can have an "off" day- it cannnot be easy to Funny/witty on Cue- even if that is your 'living"

              I have seen Paul be slow/distracted many times on Have I got news for you but when "It" hits he can really be on a "roll"
              I noticed that the last few HIGNFY that I saw while in London last fall Paul was more quiet than he used to be.

              Having seen paul perform a couple times at the comdey club improv I have seen his willingness to 'step back' and let someone else have the spotlight ( although usually not for very long LOL he loves to take the mickey out of his friends- epecilly Josie)

              The "best chairman" remark is paul carrying the Torch from Kenneth Wms. and it is Always meant as a Put Down on Nicholas.

              Paul shows a true love of JAM still and is still able to take the mickey out of Nicholas or someone like Glyes.

              Has Paul's manner of Playing the game changed? well in a way yes-he will sit back and let others do their thing more often but if he sees a good opening he usually does go for it.

              Clement changed his game playing over the yrs too.

              That is my 2 cents/pence. Miriam













              --- In just-a-minute@yahoogroups.com, "Bobby" <bobbyshaddoe3004@...> wrote:
              >
              > One thing I've noticed in the fairly recent episodes of Just a Minute is a shift in Paul Merton's behavior. In his youth when he first came on the show, he was something of a rebel, and an innovative one that not only argued with panelists but argued with Nicholas to no end. Nowadays, he seems to no longer argue with Nicholas' decisions or challenge his authority. In fact, there are some episodes that go by that have Paul pretty much towing the company line, not just with the audience, but with other panelists.
              >
              > By which I mean, that when a panelist or the audience disagree with the rulings or challenges the rules themselves or show their disappointment at the fact that someone dared to interrupt someone, and it happened to be something they were enjoying, he will now remind them about the rules, as they have been for 40 years now.
              >
              > I can understand Paul having a great love for the history of the program, but it just gets my goat that he now seems to have become essentially the new Kenneth Williams, the new face of the program who in his later years seemed to reach a comfort zone with the program and more often than not praise Nicholas for being the 'best chairman they've got'.
              >
              > Its like he accepts all of Nicholas' decisions without a fight now, just tows the line and accepts his judgement like a good little boy, and that's simply not on. Granted, I'm only listening to the 2008 episodes at the moment, I have no idea what 2009 or 2010 will bring to the table, so maybe Paul gets some of his fire back in those recordings. Who knows?
              >
            • Dean
              thanks for joining in Maria - hope you ll post again soon dean From: Maria Eugenia Garibotti Sent: Monday, March 01, 2010 2:54 PM To:
              Message 6 of 16 , Mar 2, 2010
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                thanks for joining in Maria - hope you'll post again soon Smile emoticon
                 
                dean
                 
                 
                 
                 

                Sent: Monday, March 01, 2010 2:54 PM
                Subject: Re: [just-a-minute] Re: Paul Merton: Innovative Rebel turned Straight-Laced Conformist?

                 

                Hi everyone,

                I've read your exchanges for a while now, but this is the first time I write.

                I guess it's true that Paul has become a bit more of an "establishment" player, but I find that he is the soul of JAM for me. I found this last episode almost unbearable, and I think it was because Paul was not there.

                And I'd like to add my voice to those who think every panelist is playing a role, and so is Nicholas.

                Best

                Maria

                On Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 6:35 AM, irishmanufan <irishmanufan@ yahoo.co. uk> wrote:
                 

                well said jeremy . when i read the original post in this topic i did wonder ,if the oringinal poster was taking a joke a bit too seriously .
                cheers
                Linda


                >
                > As to KW & PM praising the chairman: the best chairman we've got or ever had were (a) a catchphrase of sorts (not unlike the double entendre of the great cult) in a show with few catchphrases, hence Paul's referencing of them and (b) they seem to always have a hint of irony & sarcasm - thus KW could be smarming up to the esteemed chair in one round and then throwing a chair at him the next (usually metaphorically)
                >
                > Jeremy
                >
                > PS Any sign of the latest episode up?


              • Robert Torres
                I guess that s true.  I remember Aimi MacDonald s stock and trade was her persona of a dumb blonde, obviously as she got older she couldn t keep doing that
                Message 7 of 16 , Mar 3, 2010
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                  I guess that's true.  I remember Aimi MacDonald's stock and trade was her persona of a dumb blonde, obviously as she got older she couldn't keep doing that sort of thing.  Hell, some of her final appearances on the program have her a bit more mature, yet still quite charming.

                  --- On Tue, 3/2/10, delmelza <delmelza@...> wrote:

                  From: delmelza <delmelza@...>
                  Subject: [just-a-minute] Re: Paul Merton: Innovative Rebel turned Straight-Laced Conformist?
                  To: just-a-minute@yahoogroups.com
                  Date: Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 3:23 PM

                   
                  As a big Paul
                  Merton I wanted some time to think about this and try to be more objective so here are my thoughts:

                  Time "mellows' many people including Perfomers-face it some performers look Silly trying to be Anti Establishment after they hit 50+

                  Paul comes across in being Secure in his talent and not needing to "prove himself" all the time.

                  Paul like all of us can have an "off" day- it cannnot be easy to Funny/witty on Cue- even if that is your 'living"

                  I have seen Paul be slow/distracted many times on Have I got news for you but when "It" hits he can really be on a "roll"
                  I noticed that the last few HIGNFY that I saw while in London last fall Paul was more quiet than he used to be.

                  Having seen paul perform a couple times at the comdey club improv I have seen his willingness to 'step back' and let someone else have the spotlight ( although usually not for very long LOL he loves to take the mickey out of his friends- epecilly Josie)

                  The "best chairman" remark is paul carrying the Torch from Kenneth Wms. and it is Always meant as a Put Down on Nicholas.

                  Paul shows a true love of JAM still and is still able to take the mickey out of Nicholas or someone like Glyes.

                  Has Paul's manner of Playing the game changed? well in a way yes-he will sit back and let others do their thing more often but if he sees a good opening he usually does go for it.

                  Clement changed his game playing over the yrs too.

                  That is my 2 cents/pence. Miriam

                  --- In just-a-minute@ yahoogroups. com, "Bobby" <bobbyshaddoe3004@ ...> wrote:
                  >
                  > One thing I've noticed in the fairly recent episodes of Just a Minute is a shift in Paul Merton's behavior. In his youth when he first came on the show, he was something of a rebel, and an innovative one that not only argued with panelists but argued with Nicholas to no end. Nowadays, he seems to no longer argue with Nicholas' decisions or challenge his authority. In fact, there are some episodes that go by that have Paul pretty much towing the company line, not just with the audience, but with other panelists.
                  >
                  > By which I mean, that when a panelist or the audience disagree with the rulings or challenges the rules themselves or show their disappointment at the fact that someone dared to interrupt someone, and it happened to be something they were enjoying, he will now remind them about the rules, as they have been for 40 years now.
                  >
                  > I can understand Paul having a great love for the history of the program, but it just gets my goat that he now seems to have become essentially the new Kenneth Williams, the new face of the program who in his later years seemed to reach a comfort zone with the program and more often than not praise Nicholas for being the 'best chairman they've got'.
                  >
                  > Its like he accepts all of Nicholas' decisions without a fight now, just tows the line and accepts his judgement like a good little boy, and that's simply not on. Granted, I'm only listening to the 2008 episodes at the moment, I have no idea what 2009 or 2010 will bring to the table, so maybe Paul gets some of his fire back in those recordings. Who knows?
                  >


                • j_a_m_fan
                  I ve also noted Paul s mellowing, certainly in terms of his appearances on Just A Minute. I put it down to he has now become an accepted member of the BBC
                  Message 8 of 16 , Mar 4, 2010
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                    I've also noted Paul's mellowing, certainly in terms of his appearances on Just A Minute.
                    I put it down to he has now become an accepted member of the BBC establishment - and even the general UK show biz establishment. Eg. He now does many travel shows and the like 'Paul Merton in India' or whatever - and they really aren't him, in my opinion. Another example of him being part of the general establishment was his visit to the Lord's test during the last ashes series. The camera picked him out in the crowd wearing a jaunty trilby style-hat. Now this is a man who didn't know what a 'yorker' was just 12 or so years ago in one episode, but the cricket at Lord's is about as establishment as it gets.
                    So perhaps he feels a responsibility to toe the line in JAM, possibly
                    he believes, and perhaps correctly, that the future of this pillar of British radio culture is firmly in his hands and he has to help conserve its format.


                    --- In just-a-minute@yahoogroups.com, "Bobby" <bobbyshaddoe3004@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > One thing I've noticed in the fairly recent episodes of Just a Minute is a shift in Paul Merton's behavior. In his youth when he first came on the show, he was something of a rebel, and an innovative one that not only argued with panelists but argued with Nicholas to no end. Nowadays, he seems to no longer argue with Nicholas' decisions or challenge his authority. In fact, there are some episodes that go by that have Paul pretty much towing the company line, not just with the audience, but with other panelists.
                    >
                    > By which I mean, that when a panelist or the audience disagree with the rulings or challenges the rules themselves or show their disappointment at the fact that someone dared to interrupt someone, and it happened to be something they were enjoying, he will now remind them about the rules, as they have been for 40 years now.
                    >
                    > I can understand Paul having a great love for the history of the program, but it just gets my goat that he now seems to have become essentially the new Kenneth Williams, the new face of the program who in his later years seemed to reach a comfort zone with the program and more often than not praise Nicholas for being the 'best chairman they've got'.
                    >
                    > Its like he accepts all of Nicholas' decisions without a fight now, just tows the line and accepts his judgement like a good little boy, and that's simply not on. Granted, I'm only listening to the 2008 episodes at the moment, I have no idea what 2009 or 2010 will bring to the table, so maybe Paul gets some of his fire back in those recordings. Who knows?
                    >
                  • Tallguy
                    So perhaps he feels a responsibility to toe the line in JAM, ************** Maybe so, but Paul Merton goes naked bowling!
                    Message 9 of 16 , Mar 4, 2010
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                      So perhaps he feels a responsibility to toe the line in JAM,
                      **************
                      Maybe so, but Paul Merton goes naked bowling!

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tzd4KQY7dnE&feature=related
                      (at 6:30)
                      See also part 5
                        http://demand.five.tv/Series.aspx?seriesBaseName=PaulMertonInEurope
                      Tallguy
                      "With kindness and a smile you can lead an elephant with a thread."
                      Persian Proverb

                    • Robert Torres
                      Dean,   You make a lot of interesting and quite thought provoking points.  I m almost completely caught up with the series, as I am at present listening to
                      Message 10 of 16 , Mar 6, 2010
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                        Dean,
                         
                        You make a lot of interesting and quite thought provoking points.  I'm almost completely caught up with the series, as I am at present listening to the 2009 episodes.  I guess with regards to Paul, I have noticed that he is a bit more supportive of the other panelists, especially if they are new to the show.  I think that's definitely a far better stance to take than how the show was years ago, in that most people who were new to the show wouldn't get ten words out of their mouth without being challenged. 
                         
                        I do agree that, at present, Paul is the glue that holds the show together.  Not long after making my initial post about his transformation from 'innovative rebel' to 'strait-laced conformist', I listened to a few more shows, and did notice that Paul was broadening his style as it befits a master of improvisation.  its hard to think of someone like Paul Merton as 'mature', since many of my fondest memories of seeing him perform are still when he was in his 20's and 30's, on shows like 'Whose Line is it Anyway' and some of the older episodes of 'Have I Got News For You' and even his earlier stuff on Just a Minute from the early to mid 90's.  This is not to say that he still isn't brilliant, but I guess the inevitability of growing older is something I'm not prepared to face, because in five months time I will be 30 years old.  Its the idea of wanting to hold on to youth for as long as possible, and I guess I wish to apply that same sensibility to others.  its the idea that you don't want to change as you grow older, but I guess it is inevitable, because we are always seeking out new experiences, and those experiences do change us over time. 
                         
                        Sorry, I'm getting off topic a bit.  I do agree that the key to any sort of success on a program like JAM is allowing the panelists to get a good flow going before they start challenging, although the chaos that erupts from all the challenges sometimes can be quite funny, depending of course on the situation.  I remember Kenneth Williams was very often the sort that would try to stop someone time and again with a series of challenges, very often because he felt that he shouldn't have had a subject taken away in the first place, and would challenge on everything under the sun to get the subject back, and nine times out of ten would fail to get the subject.  this often caused a grat deal of hilarity, largely from Kenneth's stance of having been wronged by the system, by the chairman, by society, etc. in all its melodramatic glory. 
                         
                        regarding the insults against Nicholas, I love the insults, but don't like to think that they are going to somehow 'soften the blows' to Nicholas, as very often the 'big production numbers' are the funniest moments.  I remember the 'Queen's Royal Jelly' stuff, although sometimes Kenneth would make that remark about Peter Jones rather than Nicholas.  I can't see why Clement's lack of presence on the program would make the other panelists feel that making fun of someone for their old age is somehow off limits.  Because Nicholas' age has been one of the main targets for insults and jokes on the program since the show began 40 years ago. 
                         
                        regarding a more joyous and lively atmosphere now that Clement is gone, I would certainly agree with that, because that seemed rather evident even before Clement's death, because there have been a few episodes of JAM in the years leading up to his passing that have been recorded without Clement.  And those episodes tended to have a bit more energy and a bit more fun. 
                         
                        I agree, that it'll be interesting to hear how the show develops in the next few years now that the last of the Original Foursome has gone to that great panel game in the sky. 
                         

                        --- On Sun, 3/7/10, Dean <dbedford@...> wrote:

                        From: Dean <dbedford@...>
                        Subject: Re: [just-a-minute] Re: Paul Merton: Innovative Rebel turned Strait-Laced Conformist?
                        To: just-a-minute@yahoogroups.com
                        Date: Sunday, March 7, 2010, 2:57 PM

                         
                        okay I'll weigh in on Paul. He said in one of the shows last year - and made a similar remark either on the Classic CDs or in an interview somewhere - that he was conscious of winning the show too often and dominating too much, and was trying to let the others all have a fair go. There are shows in the early 90s where Paul probably says more than the other three panellists combined, and we don't hear very much even from people as funny as Graham Norton, Linda Smith and Julian Clary. Whether this is at the behest of a producer or off his own bat, Paul seems to be less competitive, less willing to get into every round. I do think it's good that we are hearing more from some of the others, though I'd hate to feel Paul felt too constrained. Sometimes we go five minutes or more without hearing Paul in some shows this year and I'm not sure that that's a good thing.
                         
                        Still I do feel that Paul remains the glue that holds things together. I've referred before to the remark David Hatch once made that he used to occasionally signal to Kenneth Williams to jump in if he felt the show was becoming  a bit dull and people were getting bogged down. That's always the fear to me, that the show gets bogged down in "repetition of he" type challenges and no-one gets going. I think the show this week got derailed a bit with trivial challenges. It would be interesting to know how many times people talked on the subject for more than say 10 seconds. It's not impossible to be funny in a few seconds, but the show works better if people are allowed to get their "flow" going. It's no coincidence that Paul wasn't there this week. He always jumps in if what's being said is boring and says something that gets people laughing again. The only other person with a similar command, I think, is Graham Norton, and personally I would have Graham on the panel if Paul isn't there. I suspect though that Paul will miss few shows in the immediate future.
                         
                        Has Paul mellowed? I don't know if that's the word I'd use. He's not one of the "alternative" younger comedians any more. He's in his mid 50s and he's been lead comic on a leading BBCTV comedy show and a leading BBC radio comedy show for 20 years each now, so he's clearly mainstream these days. I haven't seen Have I Got News For You for a couple of years but before that I didn't notice him getting any softer in his jabs and on JAM he's still quite capable of cutting remarks. I wonder though if he is trying to broaden his comedy a tad. Insult humour is good and works on JAM - it doesn't have to be all that he does. Improvisation is about trying things out and if anyone on the show is in a position to be original, it surely must be Paul.
                         
                        Turning to whether "he accepts all of Nicholas' decisions without a fight now, just tows the line and accepts his judgement like a good little boy" I think the first thing to say is that whether the panellists are praising Nicholas or rubbishing Nicholas, it's all meant in humour. It all plays to JAM's longest running joke, commentary on how Nicholas chairs the show. Same with Kenneth Williams. The joke works either way because Nicholas is neither as bad nor as good as they say and because Nicholas is such a willing target. It's clear from the Classic CDs that Paul does have a great deal of respect for Nicholas.
                         
                        Paul and the others do still take jabs at Nicholas. Perhaps they do not make the full production number of it that they used to.
                         
                        But I do think that the death of Clement and Nicholas's advanced age combine to make criticism of Nicholas more problematic. At 86 and still with a reasonably busy show biz career, Nicholas almost certainly has the respect of all of the others on the show. His is an incredible record. The fact that the other panellists are between 30 and 50 years younger than Nicholas makes some insults off-limits I think. Remember when Kenneth used to say "they have to wheel him out here in a bath chair, and inject him with Queen's royal jelly!" Now that Nicholas is of an age when many people would be under nursing care, that sort of remark doesn't work so well. I think while Clement, roughly the same age, was there and if not leading the charge against Nicholas, certainly supporting it, these taunts were more acceptable. But now Clement isn't there, I'm sure that the panellists are wary of seeming too harsh about Nicholas.
                         
                        As I say the panellists do still make jokes about Nicholas, but I think they are wary of sounding too mean.
                         
                        The interesting thing is what this means for the future of the show and what effect Clement's death is having. It seems from the various things that have been said that while people had a lot of respect for Clement, he did at times make some people uncomfortable. I think this season in particular had a lot of fun and laughter. Is it possible people are more relaxed without Clement's brooding presence? On the other hand the possibility is always there that the show will lose its shape without Clement to care about the rules and the score - though Gyles Brandreth and Sue Perkins are perhaps taking over that role as the competitive players of the game.
                         
                        I expect if Nicholas retired/died and say Gyles Brandreth took over as chairman, he would immediately become a target for insults and abuse, because it works in a game where so few rulings are clear-cut, and because, like Nicholas, he is a great target.
                         
                        It'll be interesting to see how the show develops in the next few years but with an established core cast, Paul, Graham, Tony, Sue, Gyles, Kit, Jenny, Julian, Chris, Stephen, Josie, Charles, Liza, Tim, Pam, most of whom have now been around 10 years or more, I feel that the show is in a strong position - and also perhaps poised to develop into something slightly different from how the show sounded say 10 years ago.

                         

                      • Dean
                        okay I ll weigh in on Paul. He said in one of the shows last year - and made a similar remark either on the Classic CDs or in an interview somewhere - that he
                        Message 11 of 16 , Mar 7, 2010
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                          okay I'll weigh in on Paul. He said in one of the shows last year - and made a similar remark either on the Classic CDs or in an interview somewhere - that he was conscious of winning the show too often and dominating too much, and was trying to let the others all have a fair go. There are shows in the early 90s where Paul probably says more than the other three panellists combined, and we don't hear very much even from people as funny as Graham Norton, Linda Smith and Julian Clary. Whether this is at the behest of a producer or off his own bat, Paul seems to be less competitive, less willing to get into every round. I do think it's good that we are hearing more from some of the others, though I'd hate to feel Paul felt too constrained. Sometimes we go five minutes or more without hearing Paul in some shows this year and I'm not sure that that's a good thing.
                           
                          Still I do feel that Paul remains the glue that holds things together. I've referred before to the remark David Hatch once made that he used to occasionally signal to Kenneth Williams to jump in if he felt the show was becoming  a bit dull and people were getting bogged down. That's always the fear to me, that the show gets bogged down in "repetition of he" type challenges and no-one gets going. I think the show this week got derailed a bit with trivial challenges. It would be interesting to know how many times people talked on the subject for more than say 10 seconds. It's not impossible to be funny in a few seconds, but the show works better if people are allowed to get their "flow" going. It's no coincidence that Paul wasn't there this week. He always jumps in if what's being said is boring and says something that gets people laughing again. The only other person with a similar command, I think, is Graham Norton, and personally I would have Graham on the panel if Paul isn't there. I suspect though that Paul will miss few shows in the immediate future.
                           
                          Has Paul mellowed? I don't know if that's the word I'd use. He's not one of the "alternative" younger comedians any more. He's in his mid 50s and he's been lead comic on a leading BBCTV comedy show and a leading BBC radio comedy show for 20 years each now, so he's clearly mainstream these days. I haven't seen Have I Got News For You for a couple of years but before that I didn't notice him getting any softer in his jabs and on JAM he's still quite capable of cutting remarks. I wonder though if he is trying to broaden his comedy a tad. Insult humour is good and works on JAM - it doesn't have to be all that he does. Improvisation is about trying things out and if anyone on the show is in a position to be original, it surely must be Paul.
                           
                          Turning to whether "he accepts all of Nicholas' decisions without a fight now, just tows the line and accepts his judgement like a good little boy" I think the first thing to say is that whether the panellists are praising Nicholas or rubbishing Nicholas, it's all meant in humour. It all plays to JAM's longest running joke, commentary on how Nicholas chairs the show. Same with Kenneth Williams. The joke works either way because Nicholas is neither as bad nor as good as they say and because Nicholas is such a willing target. It's clear from the Classic CDs that Paul does have a great deal of respect for Nicholas.
                           
                          Paul and the others do still take jabs at Nicholas. Perhaps they do not make the full production number of it that they used to.
                           
                          But I do think that the death of Clement and Nicholas's advanced age combine to make criticism of Nicholas more problematic. At 86 and still with a reasonably busy show biz career, Nicholas almost certainly has the respect of all of the others on the show. His is an incredible record. The fact that the other panellists are between 30 and 50 years younger than Nicholas makes some insults off-limits I think. Remember when Kenneth used to say "they have to wheel him out here in a bath chair, and inject him with Queen's royal jelly!" Now that Nicholas is of an age when many people would be under nursing care, that sort of remark doesn't work so well. I think while Clement, roughly the same age, was there and if not leading the charge against Nicholas, certainly supporting it, these taunts were more acceptable. But now Clement isn't there, I'm sure that the panellists are wary of seeming too harsh about Nicholas.
                           
                          As I say the panellists do still make jokes about Nicholas, but I think they are wary of sounding too mean.
                           
                          The interesting thing is what this means for the future of the show and what effect Clement's death is having. It seems from the various things that have been said that while people had a lot of respect for Clement, he did at times make some people uncomfortable. I think this season in particular had a lot of fun and laughter. Is it possible people are more relaxed without Clement's brooding presence? On the other hand the possibility is always there that the show will lose its shape without Clement to care about the rules and the score - though Gyles Brandreth and Sue Perkins are perhaps taking over that role as the competitive players of the game.
                           
                          I expect if Nicholas retired/died and say Gyles Brandreth took over as chairman, he would immediately become a target for insults and abuse, because it works in a game where so few rulings are clear-cut, and because, like Nicholas, he is a great target.
                           
                          It'll be interesting to see how the show develops in the next few years but with an established core cast, Paul, Graham, Tony, Sue, Gyles, Kit, Jenny, Julian, Chris, Stephen, Josie, Charles, Liza, Tim, Pam, most of whom have now been around 10 years or more, I feel that the show is in a strong position - and also perhaps poised to develop into something slightly different from how the show sounded say 10 years ago.

                           
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