starring PAUL MERTON, DEREK NIMMO, CLEMENT FREUD and PETER JONES, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 14 February 1998)

NOTE: Derek Nimmo's 300th appearance.

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, hello, my name is Nicholas Parsons. And as the Minute Waltz fades away it is my pleasure, not only to welcome our listeners but to introduce the four exciting, intrepid and experienced players of the game who this week are going to partake in Just A Minute. We welcome back three of our veteran players of the game. Theyíve been playing it almost as long as I have had, exactly as long as I have, and that is Peter Jones, Derek Nimmo and Clement Freud. And we have one of the young show biz veterans in the sense that he has established himself now with such security in the wider entertainment industry and on Just A Minute we canít let him go and that is Paul Merton. So will you please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Elaine Wigley, looking extremely lovely. She has a stopwatch which she will help keep the time. She will score for me and also she will blow her whistle when 60 seconds are up. And we are playing this particular show before a Fringe audience at the Pleasance Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival as I ask our four players of the game to speak without hesitation, repetition or deviation on the subject I give them. And we will begin the show this week with Paul Merton. Paul the subject is Scottish widows. Tell us... theyíre laughing already, isnít that nice! You have 60 seconds starting now.

PAUL MERTON: You occasionally see on television an advert for this company called Scottish Widows. with this woman dressed in black is walking around a maze with a smile on her face. And I always think to myself, I wonder what her husband died of! Why is she looking so pleased with herself? Perhaps they over-indulged in love making and it took them three weeks to screw the coffee lid down! I donít really know what the problem is! Why should she be so happy because her dear departed...


PM: Whoís buzzed?

NP: Clement Freud buzzed.

CLEMENT FREUD: Too many whys. Three whys.

NP: Three whys?

CF: He said why this, why...

NP: Oh! Oh yes, he was in full flood there!

DEREK NIMMO: Well listened Clay!

NP: Well listened! Well interrupted. And the audience didnít enjoy it but there are... So you have a correct challenge so Iíve got to be fair within the rules. So Clement, 35 seconds on Scottish widows starting now.

CF: Thereís a new bycompany of Scottish Widows called Widows 97 which is actually a geriatric dating agency which is open to a minimal number of people because that is an age hard to achieve, at which few people look for husbands. Scottish Widows is also an insurance company which advertises via a woman whom I find desperately attractive. And why she should be called a Scottish widow when she must have been on the marriage market for...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Two shes.

CF: Good! Good challenge! Good challenge! Good challenge!

NP: Hoisted on your own petard Freud. Tit for tat, there we are! And you got in with two seconds to go on Scottish widows Paul starting now.

PM: Mashed potato and gravy...


NP: Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And he has now taken a lead ahead of Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo and Peter Jones. And Peter your turn to begin, the subject Braveheart. Tell us something about that in this Scottish edition of Just A Minute starting now.

PETER JONES: Well it was a motion picture, I believe, based on Wallace. Was it William, the first name? I canít remember. I know that...


NP: Derek Nimmo challenged.

DN: Just trying to be helpful, yes.

NP: Yes!

PJ: I know. Start again?

NP: No, no, no, donít start again, no, no, you were interrupted, so you get a point for that. But Derek gets a point because they enjoyed the challenge. And you have 51 seconds on Braveheart starting now.

PJ: There is an inscription outside St Bartholomewís Hospital in Smithfield in London, all about some of his exploits. And I donít know whether they based the film on that piece of script. But I er havenít seen it. Er so I donít really know...


PJ: ... Iím not really interested. What?

NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Slight hesitation!

PJ: No, no, no! Give me a slight extra point for being interrupted!

NP: No, no, it was a definite hesitation Peter.

PJ: It was?

NP: Right, 33 seconds on Braveheart with you Paul starting now.

PM: Doctor Christian Barnard was a pioneer in the field of open heart surgery and indeed heart transplanting. The first...


NP: Derek Nimmo challenged.

DN: Heart. Repetition of heart.

PM: Itís on... Brave heart.

DN: No it isnít...

NP: Braveheart is one word.

PM: Is it?

NP: Yes. And heart...

PM: It may be two. Who can say whether itís one word or not?

NP: I know, but you were talking about heart and heart surgery, so you used that word twice. And Braveheart is a word. So Iím sorry...

PM: But it might be two words, it might be brave heart. Like courageous liver! Pumping away all day, some of them are very brave.

NP: Iím tempted to give you a bonus point for the way you struggled out of it. But I cannot give you the point, I must give it to Derek Nimmo, because you did not establish...

PM: Iím establishing it now!

NP: This is outside the actual talking on Just A Minute. So you didnít establish when you were talking that Braveheart is two words. So Derek you have a correct challenge but Paul does get that bonus point. Twenty-two seconds for Braveheart starting now.

DN: When I had my heart operation, the quadruple bypass 10 years ago, my heart was particularly brave. And I...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of heart.

NP: Yes! You see how you can win it back so easily! Thirteen seconds, Braveheart is back with you Paul starting now.

PM: It was a very successful film starring Mel Gibson, who is an Australian actor. And I think a lot of people wondered how well he would cope with the accent. You hear Scottish voices on programmes like Star...


NP: Paul Merton surged in that round. He gained the extra point for speaking as the whistle went, but other points in that round has put him in a strong lead ahead of Derek Nimmo and Clement Freud and Peter Jones in that order. Clement itís your turn to begin, the subject, riding the laughs. Tell us something about that, something weíve discussed in Just A Minute many times. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

CF: The very easiest way of riding the laughs is not to say anything risible. And in respect of this I would like to give you excerpts of Chaucerís prologue to the Canterbury Tales. One nutter preli with his suren suity, the drafts of March had pierced to the rooty. And pray that every vein in switch de carr, of which virtue engendered is the... When Zeferus eat with his sweety breath, inspired that...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Thatís just killing the laughs!

NP: I think thatís a very shrewd challenge and I give you the benefit of the doubt there Peter. So you take over the subject of riding the laughs, 28 seconds, starting now.

PJ: Itís a kind of technique that involves making the audience laugh and then while they are laughing, you prepare the next thing to say just as the laugh is fading away. Itís faded in this case altogether! Nevertheless. you know, and then you start again with some new little joke like er...


NP: Yes Clement?

CF: Hesitation?

NP: Yes I must give that one.

PJ: Yes I think you must.

NP: Yes! Right. Oh Clement you got in with a third of a second to go. But this is Just A Minute, I have to be fair within the rules, so a third of a second Clement riding the laughs starting now.

CF: Ah...


NP: Peter Jones and Derek Nimmo are equal behind Clement Freud who is a little way behind our leader Paul Merton. Paul your turn to begin, the subject, my hare-brained scheme. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

PM: A lot of inventions we take for granted now started off as somebodyís hare-brained scheme. Where would we be without the aeroplane? We would be sitting here probably! But the Wright Brothers when they devised this machine, lots of people said it wonít take off, it will never fly, you are a couple of hare-brained brothers. So they proved their critics wrong by booking a 747 flight to New York! And sat in the first class section eating caviar all the way. My greatest hare-brained scheme, I think, was to try and cross an elephant with a Pekinese dog. Itís an unusual creature which I call a pelephant. I could of called it equally an Ekinese. But I think thatís rather more difficult to pronounce. Itís a lovely creature, you can take it for a walk...


PM: Whatís the matter?

NP: Derek Nimmo challenged.

DN: Repetition of creature.

NP: Yes there was more than one creature there...

PM: Oh really?

NP: My hare-brained scheme Derek, 10 seconds, starting now.

DN: My hare-brained scheme was to get a lot of blue plastic and push it into the shape of a pyramid. And ask pretty ladies to sit inside it and tell them theyíre going to marry the future President of the United States, and charge them an awful lot of money for doing this...


NP: Paul Merton is still in the lead. And Derek Nimmo itís your turn to begin. The subject is round. Tell us something about that subject in Just A Minute starting now.

DN: I remember when I was in a play called The Little Hut, I used to get a tremendous round of applause every night because I tied on stage a bow tie. And this amazed the gentlemen in the audience that some complicated knot like that could be done in the course of one tiny speech. I joined the Roundtable people, theyíre awfully nice. Itís where selfmade men go to meet their creator! And I always found it terribly nice and full of good works, like the Lions too. I remember a doctor friend of mine, every night...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Ah repetition of remember.

NP: You remembered too much Iím afraid there.

DN: Oh!

NP: So the subject is round, itís with you Clement, there are 30 seconds starting now.

CF: I never appeared in Little Hut, so I never tied a bowtie or got a round of applause. Iím really sorry about that, because having the subject round, you ought to have something thatís happened in your life which enables you or facilitates theeeeeeeeeeeeee...


NP: Paul Merton challenged and I think we know what it was.

PM: Too many es in the word the!

NP: Thirteen seconds, round Paul, starting now.

PM: One of then most generous people I know is Nicholas Parsons. He always buys a round! Anybody here in the audience, if you come out of this venue afterwards, you come up to our chairman and say "buy us a drink," he will purchase a beverage...


NP: Derek Nimmo challenged.

DN: Buy, buys a drink, buys a round.

PM: Oh!

NP: Yes thatís right, yes, bit boring wasnít it! Yes! Derek, two seconds on round starting now.

DN: My wife was sitting next to me, she said donít turn round...


NP: Right! Derek Nimmo was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. Heís moving up on our leader Paul Merton, heís only one point behind him. Clement Freud and Peter Jones follow in that order. Peter itís your turn to begin, the subject, ivy. Can you tell us something about her, or it, or them in this game starting now.

PJ: Well Iíve known quite a few Ivys. But the Ivy I remember best was a very fat waitress, a very jolly one, in a little teashop in Soho during the war. Where they were able to obtain rationed things and so they made Christmas cakes and all kinds of things out of the er food that they got on the black market. And er they were able to concoct Vienna slices and er Battenburg cakes, all kinds of things like that. And she always laughed a great deal at her own jokes. She certainly knew how to ride the audience which was of course, er, it was herself in fact, you see, the audience, she was both the former and...


NP: Clement Freud has challenged, yes?

CF: The audience.

NP: The audience.

PJ: Yes.

NP: The audience, yes, you said audience more than once.

PJ: I did.

NP: Sixteen seconds for you Clement on ivy starting now.

CF: I find it very sad how few women are now called Ivy. Babies born and whose names are announced in The Times no longer show Ethels and Gladysís, Fredas and Queenies. Nor Ivy, I used to like the name Ivy...


NP: Clement Freud is now equal with Derek Nimmo, just one point behind our leader Paul Merton. Clement, your turn to begin, Clansmen. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

CF: Clansman was a colt on which I won considerable money over the years. Iím not sure of his breeding, he was probably by Clantine who was a useful sire. And I watched Clansman first of all at Pontefract, then Thirsk, Weatherby, Hamilton Park, and later at Perth, at Cheltenham, Wincampton, Newton Abbot, Devon and Exeter, and later Brighton, Kempton Park, Sandown, Epsom...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: After that many races the horse would have just died!

NP: So I...

PM: Itís gone all over the place, itís traveled more than Derek!

CF: May I go on?

NP: Yeah I... itís justified if you like, because I think itís deviation because I donít think the horse did run at all those particular venues. And er...


NP: All right, Iíll put it to the audience then! If you agree with Clement Freud you cheer for him, and if you disagree you boo, and you all do it together now.


NP: Well Clement, they think that horse ran... I donít know how they know! Theyíre obviously all racing enthusiasts, they have attended all those meetings and saw your horse Clansman run! So Clement youíre still with it, youíve got another point, 29 seconds, Clansman, starting now.

CF: Perhaps his biggest successes were at Chepstowe, Grafton...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes! Clansman, letís take it on a Scottish theme because weíre up here in Edinburgh at the moment, 21 seconds, Clansman, starting now.

PM: A film was made in 1913 called The Birth of the Nation, directed by DW Griffith. It was based on a book called The Clansmen. It was considered a masterpiece of early silent cinema. But now if you see a print of this particular movie, you realise itís actually got quite strong racist undertones. The Ku Klux Klan are featured in this entertainment...


NP: Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point and has moved forward in the lead and he takes the next round. Paul the subject, my funny bone. Tell us something about it in Just A Minute if you can starting now.

PM: Well itís 10 years ago to the week that I was up here at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival playing football with some other comedians when I broke my leg...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Deviation.

NP: Why?

CF: Other comedians!

NP: Give Clement a bonus point but leave the subject with Paul Merton who has a point for being interrupted and he has 50 seconds on my funny bone starting now.

PM: I donít want it! Iím in a mood now!


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Hesitation.

NP: Yes Iím afraid you lost it there, 47 seconds, my funny bone Clement starting now.

CF: As...


NP: Paul Merton got it back.

PM: Hesitation!

NP: Yes there were Paul. Forty-six seconds, my funny bone, starting now.

PM: I was laid up in hospital for about three or four days, and I was performing up here. And I then went back into this medical institution because I developed a thing thatís called a pulmonary embolism, which is a very nasty particular illness to get. While I was still under the charge of these nurses and doctors, I also developed Hepatitis A which the surgeon who was looking after me coolly informed me that Iíd probably just caught it off the food Iíd been served, morning, noon and night in this establishment. So it was a terrible time for me up here. But the great thing about it was it gave me the opportunity some decade later to be speaking on this subject...


NP: Derek Nimmo challenged.

DN: Two decades.

NP: Yes!

PM: When?

DN: A decade ago.

PM: I said ten years ago the first time, thatís why I said decade that time.

DN: Did you?

PM: Iím not a fool, you know!

NP: Eight seconds Paul, my funny bone starting now.

PM: But now I look back on it as an immensely amusing incident. Thereís something about a brush with death which just gets the old chuckle muscles...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Well the diseases that he contracted er both before he went into hospital and afterwards have nothing to do with bones of any kind.

NP: I agree with you Peter that he said it was a result...

PM: Are you going against the advice of the doctor? Youíre giving medical opinions now, are you Nicholas?

NP: I think youíve got sufficiently far away from my funny bone, getting on to all your other medical conditions that you encountered and suffered and your experiences in Scotland in this establishment, in this hospital and so forth, which did not relate sufficiently strongly to my funny bone. So I give the benefit of the doubt to Peter Jones and say youíve got two seconds on my funny bone Peter starting now.

PJ: Not everyone has one!


NP: Now then Derek, itís your turn to begin, what tickles my fancy. Thatís the subject, what tickles my fancy, so you donít have to take the subject of what tickles my Parsonsí fancy, you understand. So the subject is what tickles my fancy starting now.

DN: One of the sadnesses of getting older is that increasingly one doesnít get oneís fancy tickled very much. I remember when I was a child what used to tickle my fancy a great deal, curiously enough, was bread and dripping. Now I used to go to a place in Derbyshire called Ilkeston, and I had a maid there who used to put this substance on top of bread with a little salt and pepper, and gosh, that used to tickle my fancy! What tickles Nicholasís fancy, we donít really know. But he wants me to talk about it, did you say? Did you say anything? Oh...


NP: Clement Freud has challenged.

CF: Repetition of say.

NP: Say, yes. And Clement had a correct challenge, 31 seconds, Clement, what tickles my fancy starting now.

CF: What hugely tickles my fancy is to go racing! I like Carlisle and Musselborough, have a good word to say for Haydock. And the London tracks, especially Epsom, Towcester, Sandown...


NP: Derek Nimmo challenged.

DN: He said London tracks, Towcesterís not in London.

CF: No, no, I said the London tracks and Towcester. The London tracks are Sandown and Clempthiston...

NP: Ah I think Derekís right! Derek, what tickles my fancy, 15 seconds starting now.

DN: What tickles my fancy is to sit next to Mrs Parsons on a railway train, going preferably to Yugoslavia. Sheís a lady of enormous beauty and if I can persuade her by a gentle word and the occasional caress to come towards my arm...


NP: That was, I think, good timing. You were only 15 seconds, you couldnít go beyond that without being very indiscreet. So Derek you got a point for speaking as the whistle went, you are still in third place, Clement Freudís in second, Paul Mertonís in the lead, Peter Jones is trailing a little. And Peter, itís your turn to begin, the subject, tomorrow. Tell us something about tomorrow starting now.

PJ: My tomorrow will be much the same as any other day. I shall get up and spend most of the time helping those less fortunate than myself. Including answering all the correspondence I get which consists of begging letters. And I shall give everybody the same reply, as I do. I say to the author of the letter, please accept my apologies but I have no money to send to you or your cause. But I do suggest that you write to a friend of mine who is both wealthy and philanthropically minded. His name is Nicholas Parsons. And I give his address, and a stamp just to help it on its way. Because I wouldnít like them not to actually respond to this wonderful offer that Iíd made them...


NP: Now I know why I get all those begging letters! Peter really! But that is the first time for quite a while that somebody started a subject and has kept going right through the 60 seconds without being interrupted, because, presumably, he didnít commit any of the sins of the game. And so Peter Jones, you not only get a point for speaking as the whistle went but also a bonus point for your achievement! And itís sad to have to say that in spite of your great achievement youíre still in fourth place! And so we move into the last round and Clement Freud your turn to begin. Weíve got a lovely subject for you Clement, horsing about! Sixty seconds as usual... where did I conjure up that subject from, I wonder? Horsing about, Clement, 60 seconds, starting now.

CF: Horsing about is particularly easy if you have a horse. Which I have! And starting...


NP: Paul Merton has challenged.

PM: Deviation, he didnít go through a list of racecourses!

NP: A bonus point for Paul because we enjoyed the challenge, but Clement was interrupted so he gets a point and continues on horsing about, 53 seconds starting now.

CF: And depending of course on whether it is a flat, a national hunt or a point to point horse, you would take such...


NP: Derek Nimmo challenged.

DN: Repetition of horse.

NP: Yes you said horse before...

PM: Can you get a flat horse? How does a jockey ride it? Do you have to scoop it off the ground with a spatula?

NP: This is where a colloquialism plays havoc in Just A Minute!

PM: Genetic breedingís gone too far I think!

NP: Ah 46 seconds with you Derek on horsing about starting now.

DN: I think one of the most satisfactory ways of horsing about is to have an animal called We Are A Grandmother. And enter it at Haydock and Toaster, in the Derby, all kinds of other race meetings which Sir Clement Freud would know well about, because he actually owns this particular nag. Perhaps another way of course most would be to have a lot of fun and sort of much around with the chaps. You know, get out on the beach with bucket and spade, and dive into the waves, the brine, onto a boat and then you can really horse about. Playing leapfrog, thatís frightfully good fun, have you ever done it?


NP: Paul Merton has challenged you.

PM: This is senile dementia! Going down to the beach with bucket and spade!

NP: Yes! Havenít you seen him?

PM: No I havenít, have you?

DN: We Are A Grandfather....

NP: Regularly yes, I mean he does it all the time. He did it just before Just A Minute, down to Musselborough somewhere! No, whereís the coast near here in Edinburgh? Polybell! (in Scottish accent) Right Iíll spot that, so itís Polybell he went to, Iíve just been told that in the audience, right! So I saw him out there, he was leaping all over the place! They were all saying "oh Derek get your wee spade down here, your wee games, letís have a wee horse" and they were jumping over each other and doing the leapfrog, between the sand pies. They were saying oh that great wee Derek Nimmo, you know what Iím saying, heís a lovely wee fellow! Derek Nimmo! All right! Heís a good lad! (Normal voice) Right, thereís only 11 seconds left in this round, Paul Merton I think Iím going to give you the subject with 11 seconds to go on horsing around starting now.

PM: Ah youíre giving the subject to me because I am the worldís greatest authority on horsing around. What you have to do is first of all make...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: The subject is horsing about.

NP: Yes but he can talk about horsing around if he likes.

CF: In that case, itís deviation!

NP: Oh!

PM: What is the exact difference between horsing around and horsing about?

CF: Whatever the chairman says!

NP: The thing is that if you donít establish that horsing around is exactly the same as horsing about and then go on talking about it, within the rules of Just A Minute you probably could be accused of deviation. Itís a subtle point but...

PM: Itís a subtle point I fail to see!

NP: Well...

CF: Fair point!

NP: I have to make these decisions and I think...

PM: I know you have to make them, so make one!

NP: Well Iím making it! And Iím going to say...

PM: Iím going to being penalised for saying horsing around instead of horsing about?

NP: No Iím going to say that youíre not penalised, Iím going to say that you were deviating, you were talking about horsing about, you talked about horsing around, you didnít establish that they were one and the same thing, and you talked about horse riding...

PM: Does it not sound like the same thing to you?

NP: Iím going to give you both a point! You both have a point! You can both finish together! You have two seconds to go, both talk together, starting now!

PM: Horsing about...

CF: Iíll get another point...


NP: Right! Paul Merton and Clement Freud together brought that particular round to an end and they brought that show to an end. It doesnít make any difference to the score, that blasted argument we had over there! My God, how keen they are to get the points! Drives you mad! There we are! Let me give you the final situation. Peter Jones who came back with his usual great contribution but finished in fourth place, alas, but the audience loved him here. Derek Nimmo who came off the beach just in time to get up, 11 points, he only finished in second place. If he hadnít done so much horsing around at the beach, he might have been further up the tree. And Clement Freud as usual came off the race course and gave great value, with 15 points. But out in the lead, just ahead was Paul Merton, so we say heís the winner this week, Paul Merton! It only remains for me to say thank you to our four experienced and talented players of the game, which is Paul Merton, Derek Nimmo, Peter Jones and Clement Freud. I must also thank Elaine Wigley for so elegantly keeping the score and the stopwatch and blowing her whistle. And of course Chris Neill our producer, Ian Messiter who created the whole idea and we all stay in work of course. This audience here at the Pleasance of the Edinburgh Fringe for their warmth and generosity as we play the game. And also to all our listeners for tuning in, to them, from all of us here including me, Nicholas Parsons, thank you very much. Be with us the next time we take to the air and play Just A Minute. Till then from all of us here, bye, goodbye!