WHO'S WHO IN JUST A MINUTE!
Some info and comments on the cast of Just A Minute..... Click here to return to the main cast page

Stanley Unwin

JAM Appearances:
Two as a panellist on Radio in 1987-1989.
How he did:
Stanley's appearances were among the strangest in the show's history with his propensity to lapse into gibberish making him genuinely unique among guests in the show's history.
Who is he:
Another radio star of the 40s and 50s who was recalled to JAM about 30 years later, Professor Stanley Unwin developed his own language Unwinese, vaguely based on English and earned a deserved cult status because of it. He also appeared on children's TV and in movies, most notably Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Links to transcripts:
1 2

Arun Uttamchandani

JAM Appearances:
One as a panellist on Junior Just A Minute in 2015.
Who is he:
A junior contestant in the second season of Junior Just A Minute.
Link to transcripts:
Not yet done.

Tim Vine

JAM Appearances:
One as a panellist on Radio in 2012.
How he did:
Pretty good oin debut, Tim was fluent and funny and seemed to have a feel for the show.
Who is he:
Tim is a comedian and actor, best known for his role in the sitcom Not Going Out. Stand-up comedy makes up most of his work but other TV work includes presenting the quiz show Don't Blow The Inheritance.
Links to transcripts:
I haven't transcribed this show yet.

Richard Vranch

JAM Appearances:
Nine including eight as a panellist on Television in 1994-1995-1999, and one on Radio in 1999.
How he did:
Richard is a genuinely nice guy which comes across, and he has a nice jolly style. But he always seemed a bit dominated by the big mouths around him.
Who is he:
A key man in the Comedy Store Players improv troupe almost from the beginning, Richard is possibly best known as the man who could improvise in any musical style on almost any instrument while accompanying people like Josie Lawrence or Mike McShane on Whose Line Is It Anyway. That's possibly overshadowed his genuine comedy talents as he does far more than play music at the Comedy Store. He's recently presented his own radio comedy music show Jammin, and also writes plays, appears in sketch shows and occasionally teaches improv. He has also some TV presenting work to his credit including Jackanory.
Links to transcripts:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Rick Wakeman

JAM Appearances:
Four on radio in 2011.
How he did:
A good effort, Rick entered into the spirit of things without seeming like a potential star.
Who is he:
Rick is a keyboard player, composer, and songwriter. He is known for being the keyboardist for the rock band Yes, as a keyboardist for Ozzy Osbourne, and also as a contributor to the chat show Grumpy Old Men.
Links to transcripts:
1 2 3 4

The Prince of Wales

JAM Appearances:
One paying a special tribute on JAM Goes Panto in 2016.
Who is he:
The heir apparent.
Link to transcripts:
Not yet done.

Roy Walker

JAM Appearances:
Two as a panellist on radio in 2013.
How he did:
Roy didn't make a great debut, but his familiarity with the audience ensured a few good moments.
Who is he:
Roy is best known for his long run as host of the TV game show Catchphrase where he made popular his own phrase "if you can see it, say it". Since then he continues to appear on TV and as stand-up comic in his native Ireland.
Link to transcripts:
Not yet done.

Holly Walsh

JAM Appearances:
Six as a panellist on Radio in 2014-2016.
How he did:
Holly won her first show and had her moments. It wasn't an especially memorable debut in terms of performance though.
Who is she:
Holly is an English comedian and comedy writer, known mainly for her work on TV and radio in the UK.
Links to transcripts:
I haven't transcribed this show yet.

Suki Webster

JAM Appearances:
One as a panellist on Radio in 2009.
How she did:
Paul's then fiancee, now wife, was great, lots of fun and cheeky with it. Certainly worth hearing from again.
Who is she:
The third Mrs Merton is like him a talented improviser and comedian. She is a frequent guest with the Comedy Store Players and appears with Paul as one of his Impro Chums.
Links to transcripts:
1

Katharine Whitehorn

JAM Appearances:
Three as a panellist on Radio in 1970-1971.
How she did:
Katharine was pretty good and could have appeared more often. She stood up well to the big mouths around her, was fluent and feisty and a lot of fun.
Who is she:
Katharine was a respected newspaper journalist and columnist for many years, and has also written children's books and books on medicine and cookery.
Links to transcripts:
1 2 3

June Whitfield

JAM Appearances:
Two as a panellist on Radio in 1978.
How she did:
June seemed a bit bemused by her appearance on JAM, but competed okay with people like Kenneth and Peter Jones. She probably wasn't funny enough to demand regular return visits.
Who is she:
June has been on so many comedy shows over 50 years that it's hard to list them all. She's worked with just about everyone who is anyone in British comedy, and indeed continues to do so. She's perhaps best known for Absolutely Fabulous and The News Huddlines, but also worked in the Carry On movies, Take It From Here, Terry and June, Happily Ever After, All Stand For Julian Clary and countless sketch shows and guest appearances.
Links to transcripts:
1 2

Josh Widdicombe

JAM Appearances:
Four as a panellist on radio in 2015-2016.
Who is he:
Josh is a stand-up comedian with a growing reputation.
Link to transcripts:
Not yet done.

Kenneth Williams

JAM Appearances:
346 including 341 as a panellist on Radio in 1968-1969-1970-1971-1972-1973-1974-1975-1976-1977-1978-1979-1980-1981-1982-1983-1984-1985-1986-1987-1988, three as chairman on Radio in 1968-1970-1983, one on the Silver Minutes anniversary special in 1992, and one in the 40th anniversary special in 2007.
How he did:
"Unfortunately it means working with that Parsons fellow, but I said yes cos it will be a nice fill-in". Kenneth Williams' diary entry for August 5, 1968, explaining his decision to appear on Just A Minute. The nice fill-in turned out to last 20 years.
For the last 15 years of his life, the Carry Ons were past their peak, his best scripted radio work (Hancock, Round The Horne) was in the past and his theatre appearances became increasingly rare. Williams sustained himself with chat show and game show appearances and certainly the longest running and the one that arguably impressed the Williams persona on the public most was Just A Minute, on which Williams appeared 345 times.
For all but a few of those 20 years, Williams appeared on every show, while the supporting cast, led by Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo and Peter Jones were shuffled on and off around him and chairman Nicholas Parsons. Many thought his death would mean the end of the show, so much did he dominate it.
Listening to JAMs in which Williams appears, one is always waiting for Williams. For it to be his turn to speak, for him to challenge, for him to insult someone, throw a tantrum, praise himself, for him to leap into the lead. In my childhood, as I listened to the show, I used to hope Williams would win. He seldom did so, but on the infrequent occasions when he did, the win would be greeted by whoops and hollers from Williams, and from me!
Since the publication of his acerbic diaries, many have commented that the public never saw the entire Kenneth Williams. That may be true but in Just A Minute the public did see all of the performer Kenneth Williams. Like no other work Williams did, Just A Minute saw all of the Williams acts. The erudite historian who read widely and liked to show off his knowledge. The man who delighted in the witty put-down. The early King of camp who could flatter and charm an audience. The great star with the inflated opinion of himself. The cockney wide-boy who could talk common. The classical actor with the encyclopaedic knowledge of poetry. The well-informed man about town.
And the voices. Oh the voices. The snobbish upper crust Englishman, the Cockney, the high-pitched hysterical wail, the snide voice, the fast-paced Stanley Unwin-esque gibberish, the drawn out consonants to cover the fact he had little to say. All of these personas and voices were all on display in the same show.
Williams broke the cardinal rule of radio, to remember that the audience that counts can't see you. He played to the live audience but did it so well that you felt you could see him at home too! Or once you'd listened a few times you could imagine. He would start each show by coming on stage with a funny walk, his bottom sticking out. He would pull faces at the crowd. Sitting beside his benchmate, Freud, he would start to put his legs on Freud's knee, or kiss his beard. You'd expect these things to make little impact on radio, but somehow they work.
Just A Minute's first producer David Hatch used to have a system whereby if the show felt a little flat he would signal to Williams, who would then burst in with something, lift the show up, and then drop the audience again at Hatch's signal. Hatch, a hugely experienced comedy producer, said he never knew another performer quite like him.
The show could have been made for Williams. He loved to entertain and ad-lib. He loved to show off his knowledge. He abused the chairman: before that chairmen had God-like status on game shows. He threw tantrums or collapsed in tears. He rattled off amazing facts about historical figures. He developed catch-phrases but never overused them. "I've come all the way from Great Portland Street in the pouring rain" was the centrepiece of any tantrum. (And he did: his flat being just off Great Portland Street and he would walk the 40 minute journey.) "You great nit!" was the favoured term of abuse, though "they shouldn't have women on the show" was just as popular if a female happened to be appearing. "They want to run their fingers through my spun-gold hair" often shows up in a self-reverential rant or as an alternative "I'm a cult! I'm an enormous cult! I'm the biggest cult around here!"
Just A Minute may be a trivial game show but Williams took his performances on it seriously. He arranged to get hold of the subjects before the show and studied up on them hard, occasionally reading a whole biography so he had something to say in his minute. As a result he could be genuinely angry if an early challenge robbed him of the opportunity to display his learning. The few shows in which Williams sulks and is quiet most of the time, are usually caused by this. The book of letters published after his death includes one written to the show's producer pleading with him to edit a comment where Williams had got a fact wrong. It's hard to imagine many if any others caring as much.
Yet Williams was the reason some people were too scared to appear on the show. He was often unbearably rude to the others. On one occasion a guest left the show in tears rather than continue to be berated by Kenneth.
Williams's own attitude to Just A Minute is interesting. Most of his diary references to it are negative. "Oh my loathing for this rotten game!" He even seems to have despised his own behaviour. "I behaved disgracefully." Yet while he gave up other work, he always signed up again for Just A Minute. Perhaps he realised how well the show suited him and he seems to have genuinely liked (usually anyway) Freud, Jones and Nimmo, who for their part were clever enough to know how good a Williams riff could be and would occasionally put down their buzzers.
A riff could be a learned dissertation or a flight of fantasy. Given the subject of naval displays, who else but Kenneth would immediately say "the finest naval display you could ever see is when I get out my navel"? Who else could use three different subjects in the same show to launch into an impression of Ethel Merman singing "love is the sweetest thing" belted out at the top of his voice? To Williams it is never enough just to fill in time for the remainder of the minute. If he has nothing to say, he puts on a silly voice. Or laughs at himself. Or picks a fight with someone.
Kenneth Williams died in 1988. Arguably Williams's co-performers rose to greater heights after his death, and the show also found younger talent to sustain it in people like Paul Merton, Tony Hawks and Graham Norton.
No-one today performs quite like Williams. But there are echoes of him in the newcomers. Attacks on Nicholas Parsons as chairman are now a mainstay of the programme. Norton's dragging of consonants and camp behaviour owes something to Williams. It's intriguing to think how Williams might have interacted with them had he still been alive.
Kenneth is no longer with us. But as long as the tapes remain that voice, or should I say those voices, will be with us. The impish humour, the shouting and bawling, the hymns of self-praise, the vocal agility. The Kenneth Williams we still love, being impossible, erudite and gut-wrenchingly funny.

Who is he:
Kenneth had a long and varied career, with success on the stage, in film, in TV and in radio.
His career began in an Army entertainment unit, and when demobbed he was quick to try and develop his career as an actor. At first he wanted a career as a dramatic actor, but he quickly discovered his talents were in comedy.
On stage he worked on some of the best plays of the time but he is probably best known for his revue work, sketch comedy on stage where his vocal agility and camp antics made him famous. In this form he worked with long-time costars such as Sheila Hancock and Fenella Fielding. But he also worked on plays with such names as Ingrid Bergman, Maggie Smith, Edith Evans and Orson Welles.
His stage work led to radio work. He was a second banana over many years to Tony Hancock where he developed probably his best known voice, the snide one, and some of his best remembered catchphrases such as "stop messing about". However Hancock tired of Kenneth getting more laughs than he did, and the pair split. Kenneth then developed a relationship with Kenneth Horne, usually his straight man and they worked together for 10 years on fondly remembered sketch shows Beyond Our Ken and Round The Horne. By the time Kenneth Horne died in 1969, Kenneth Williams had branched out into JAM.
It is JAM and his work on the long running Carry On movies which are his greatest legacy. The Carry On movies were a series based around slapstick and double entendre. Kenneth inevitably played a camp character and despite his self-confessed loathing of the material - most of the movies were cheap and produced quickly - he appeared in more of the movies than any other actor.
On television, Kenneth was a big hit as compere of a weekly cabaret show, with the very camp style which became his own. In latter years it seemed a chat show could not take place without Kenneth regaling the audience with his large cache of theatrical anecdotes. but in the latter part of his career, his reputation for being difficult to work with, and his own disdain for much of the work he was offered, combined to mean he appeared less frequently on stage or in movies. He turned instead to writing, a series of books, and a magazine column, and game shows and chat shows. he was once described as the John McEnroe of the game show circuit.
Since his sudden death, the publication of his diaries shows that Kenneth probably took his own life. Though campness was a key part of his style he never publicly outed himself as gay, but also never entered into a long-term relationship with a man. This led to a rather solitary life despite the life-of-the-party persona he employed before an audience. His own interests were esoteric and it is said his flat was sparsely decorated. He was fastidious about cleanliness, seldom inviting guests to his home and when he did, insisting they not use his toilet, pointing them instead to public toilets at a nearby tube station.
Nevertheless it would be sad if these quirks dominated our memories of Kenneth too much. A unique man, a man whom his many fans still miss.

Links to transcripts as panellist:
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Links to transcripts as chairman: 1 2 3

Simon Williams

JAM Appearances:
Two as a panellist on Radio in 2000.
How he did:
Simon seemed a bit overwhelmed among the JAM atmosphere and he didn't seem to have too much fun, although he was helped along a bit by Nicholas and the others. One of his shows was released to the public, sadly with his name listed as "Simon Jones" on the front!
Who is he:
Simon's CV is overwhelming with a long list of stage, film and TV appearances. I can't hope to do justice to such a long list, but suffice to say he is an actor who works a great deal. He is still probably best known for his role in Upstairs Downstairs, but other well-known TV series include Agony, Holby City and Don't Wait Up. He also writes, both plays and novels.
Links to transcripts:
1 2

Gary Wilmot

JAM Appearances:
Two as a panellist on Television in 1999.
How he did:
Gary found it tough going on JAM, even among a low-grade panel on a TV edition. It was hard for him to keep going for long, but he met his duties with a friendly, jolly, cheeky, smiling air.
Who is he:
Gary is a great song and dance man, working continually on the West End stage in shows like Me And My Girl, Showstoppers and Copacabana. He has won acclaim as an actor too, and is respected and liked in the industry. He also does impersonations and comedy routines.
Links to transcripts:
1 2

Anona Winn

JAM Appearances:
One as a panellist on Radio in 1968.
How she did:
I thought she did remarkably well in her only appearance in the first season, being funny and bubbly, and standing up well to Clement and Derek. She should have had a few more runs.
Who is she:
One of the pioneers of the radio, beginning broadcasting as far back as 1928. She appeared on panel games including Twenty Questions and Petticoat Junction. An Australian, Anona was a singer by trade and also released recordings. She died in 1994.
Links to transcripts:
1

Dale Winton

JAM Appearances:
14 as a panellist on Television in 1995.
How he did:
Dale was a regular in the 1995 Carlton TV season of the show as captain of the Midlands team. He was very camp, quite amusing and Kenneth-like in his dislike of being challenged or not having his challenges accepted. He enjoyed his clashes with Tony Slattery, and flirted shamelessly with Nicholas. I thought he would be worth a few radio runs but he hasn't as yet been given the opportunity.
Who is he:
Dale has been working in TV and radio for 20 years, most notably in Supermarket Sweep, a game show which ran from 1993 to 2001, and again since 2007. He also presents Celebrity Fit Club and Hole In The Wall. On radio he presents Pick Of The Pops on Radio 2. His campness, charm and good looks have made him deservedly popular.
Links to transcripts:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Terry Wogan

JAM Appearances:
Two on radio in 2011.
How he did:
Terry wasn't much good at the technicalities of the game buit entered into the spirit of things with great good humour.
Who is he:
One of Britain's best known broadcasters, Terry has spent several decades presenting in high profile roles on radio and television, including on BBC Radio Two, and on his own TV chat show Wogan, and on the game show Blankety Blank.
Links to transcripts:
1 2

Michael Wood

JAM Appearances:
One as a panellist on Radio in 1982.
How he did:
A bit less than average, Michael was fawned over by the others but didn't seem to be too fluent or funny.
Who is he:
Michael is one of Britain's best known documentary makers having been a staple of Britain's TV doco screens for quarter of a century. His specialty is history, but he also produces shows on other subjects. In recent times, he has produced several programmes about India.
Links to transcripts:
1

Victoria Wood

JAM Appearances:
Four including three as a panellist on radio in 1982-1983, and one on the Silver Minutes anniversary special in 1992.
How she did:
Victoria did very well, proving bubbly, witty, winsome and fluent. She competed well with the rest, dodging the insults and generally did enough to deserve appearing far more often. She talks fast and sometimes tied herself up in knots as a result.
Who is she:
Victoria won the TV New Faces TV competition in 1973, and her career has been most successful since. She has been involved in many TV shows, most notably, Wood And Walters, Victoria Wood As Seen On TV, Dinner Ladies, and An Audience With Victoria Wood. She also also written comedy books and produced a film, and continues to do the occasional stand-up comedy work. In 2003 she was judged one of the 50 funniest people in Britain. In 2007 she won a Bafta for a dramatic acting performance on TV in Housewife 49. Her most recent work is a TV travel servies, Victoria's Empire.
Links to transcripts:
1 2 3 4

Addison-Beaumont    Beresford-Bryson    Buckman-Daly    David-Clement Freud    Emma Freud-Hawks    Hayridge-Jupitus    Jupp-MacAulay    Macdonald-Melly    Merton-Oliver    O'Neill-Richard/span>    Robbins-Slattery    Small-Tyrell



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