NOTE: Ross Noble's first appearance.

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Thank you, thank you, hello, my name is Nicholas Parsons. And as the Minute Waltz fades away once more it is my pleasure to welcome our many listeners not only in this country, but throughout the world. And also to welcome the four exciting, dynamic and diverse personalities who this week are going to play Just A Minute. We welcome back three who've played it with great skill in the past that is Paul Merton, Graham Norton and Clement Freud. And someone who's never played the game before, that is Ross Noble. Will you please welcome all four of them. As usual I am going to ask them to speak on a subject I will give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And beside me sits Janet Staplehurst who's going to help me keep the score and she will blow her whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the Pleasance at the Festival Fringe. And we have before us an excited rather over excited I think Festival Fringe audience who are now going to enjoy themselves. As we start the show with Paul Merton and the subject for the starting of the show is very apt. It is the fringe. So Paul will you speak on the fringe in Just A Minute starting now.

PAUL MERTON: The fringe, the fringe, the fringe. What a wonderful place to be here in Edinburgh at this time of year when everybody from all over the world, people who have no talent, people who are...


PM: Two people.

NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: Repetition of people.

NP: Yeah there were too many people then, there are too many people sometimes at the Fringe. But it doesn't matter, it's exciting and that's what it's about. There are 48 seconds still available, Clement Freud gets a point for a correct challenge and he takes over the subject, the Fringe, starting now.

CF: It would be trichologically demanding for me to grow a fringe in view of the amount of hair which I have not got! There is a peripheral production of Oklahoma in the Edinburgh Fringe in which there's an excellent description of a caylee as a Soiree with a binge on top!


NP: Paul Merton you've challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Indeed there was hesitation, he made his joke, got his laugh and thought that's enough for me!

CF: I'm going home now!

PM: Are you off now then? Nice off you to come down from London!

NP: Paul a correct challenge...


NP: Ross, you've challenged.

ROSS NOBLE: Yeah surely he came up from London.

PM: Yeah I know!

NP: Yeah but you can't have that sort of deviation here.

RN: Oh?

NP: But it was nice to hear from you Ross.

RN: Sorry. I just wanted to get on because I'm very excited to be here.

NP: I know, but that is a first for you, the first time you've spoken on Just A Minute.

RN: Yes it is yeah. It's a shame it wasn't when I was actually playing the game!

NP: It doesn't matter as long as they hear from you.

RN: Okay.

NP: As long as you're getting the response, that's what it's all about. Right Paul you had a correct challenge and you get a point for that of course. And you have 22 seconds available for the Fringe starting now.

PM: When I first came to the Edinburgh Fringe it was 1980...


NP: Graham Norton challenged.

GRAHAM NORTON: Repetition of Edinburgh.

NP: Yes he mentioned Edinburgh before, yes you did, and you can't mention...

PM: I feel a fool! That is you, isn't it Clement?

NP: Yes well listened Graham so you got the subject...

PM: Very harsh, I thought! Very early.

GN: I feel, I feel, petty!

NP: I know!

PM: Don't let it spoil the show for you!

NP: Graham it is still a correct challenge and a point to you and 19 seconds available, the fringe starting now.

GN: In America the fringe is referred to as bangs. This is because in that country everything is bigger as we know. And thus people with a fringe constantly walk into things. There are restaurants with fringe and no-fringe sections, because...


NP: Whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Graham Norton, and at the end of the round you won't be surprised to hear that Graham Norton's in the lead. He's two ahead of Paul Merton, Clement Freud and Ross Noble...

GN: No, no, Nicholas, I think they are really surprised to hear that!

NP: Graham?

GN: Yes?

NP: Will you take the next round?

GN: All right.

NP: The subject is first impressions. Give us something about first impressions in Just A Minute starting now.

GN: The first impression dates back to Stone Age times. When someone moulded a sort of beret thing out of scraps of mammoth fur, put it on his head, turned to his waiting family and said "Ohhhhh Betty"! Sadly it didn't go that well as it would be many centuries before Frank Spencer actually made it into the popular psyche. I think that's how you say it, I'm sure somebody will tell me if it isn't. First...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: It is.

GN: Thanks.

PM: It is how you say it!

NP: Have you a challenge within the rules of Just A...

PM: No, Graham wasn't sure...

NP: He wasn't sure, right.

PM: And we have listeners all over the world who learn English as we know from this programme...

NP: I know! I mention that regularly and...

PM: Yeah, you get letters! Don't you Nicholas?

NP: I get letters, I talk about the letters so as to give you...

PM: Despite that, you're still here!

NP: All right the audience enjoyed your interruption, you get a bonus point for that. Graham was interrupted so he gets a point for being interrupted and he keeps the subject and he has 26 seconds to continue with first impressions starting now.

GN: The first impressions I ever made were the two dents at the bottom of our stairs where I tripped while carrying a coffee mug. I was only four, my mother shouldn't have left me. It was dangerous. And sure enough, I did fall. A crushing through a sort of chalkboard, you know the sort of thing...


NP: Yes Ross you pressed your buzzer?

RN: Yeah did he say fall twice?

NP: He did say fall twice.

RN: Yes!

NP: Well listened, you...

RN: Yes I'm glad I was listening at that one! Yeah! Yeah I was on the case there!

NP: Sharp!

RN: Yeah!

NP: Right...

RN: I wasn't sure if it was two falls or whether we just had to remind people that fall is the right way to say it, fall. In case they were listening in Peru!

NP: No, no, they'll all come back talking with Geordie accents if they listen to you long enough. Anyway...

RN: I'm actually from Northumberland. I'd just like to point that out. I'm slightly posh.

NP: Is there a difference between the Northumberland accent and the Tynehamware accent.

RN: Very much so, them in Northumberland tend to roll their Rs, like that, rrrrr. So they sound like they're drunk at all times.

NP: Are they drunk all the time?

RN: Yeah pretty much!

NP: I thought it was, I thought it was even Newcastle...

RN: That's how I got on this show!

NP: I know!

RN: Yeah!

NP: Well now try and talk about first impressions because you have a point for a correct challenge, you have 11 seconds starting now.

RN: One of...


NP: And someone's challenged you already!

CF: Hesitation.

NP: You rotten.... no, no, no, just a minute, don't start a riot please!

RN: I cannot believe having just said that people from Northumberland roll their Rs, I was just going RRRRRR into the words, and that wasn't linguistically taken into account.

NP: I think he was actually professionally being rather generous so that you'd get another point, which you've got. Because you hadn't hardly gone for a second. Ten seconds, first impressions, still with you Ross starting now.

RN: One example of making a bad impression is turning up to a prespennet... errr blah!


NP: Clement Freud you've challenged this time.

CF: Hesitation.

NP: Yes we call that hesitation...

PM: No, no...

RN: No, no, no...

PM: That's Northumberland accent!

RN: Yeah it was! Yeah! Yeah!

NP: Clement you have a correct challenge, you have five seconds, first impressions starting now.

CF: My first...


RN: hang on, he definitely, definitely, hesitated! Yeah! Definitely! Definitely!

NP: Hoisted on your own petard! Right! He was interrupted, Clement you have another point because you were interrupted and you have five and a half seconds, first impressions, starting now.

CF: My first impression was of a chicken going into a farmyard backwards....


NP: So...

CF: May I, may I just continue?

NP: Can you finish the sentence then?

CF: Do doodle cocka!

NP: It's what I call lingering applause, they don't know whether they should be clapping or not. But a point for speaking as the whistle went and at the end of the round you've now taken the lead equal with Graham Norton and followed by the other two equal in second place. And Ross Noble, your turn to begin, the subject, moles. Can you tell us something about moles in this game starting now.

RN: Moles would have to be the finest of all the country animals, digging away beneath the ground. Not many people realise this but moles are in fact the natural enemy of wombles. As they move around beneath the service... surface... er....


NP: It's a difficult game isn't it. Right, Graham...

GN: I'm stopping the word surface. It's going on a bit there yeah.

NP: We interpret that as hesitation. Graham you've got the subject of moles and there are 46 seconds available starting now.

GN: The difference between moles and freckles is that moles are enigmatic, sophisticated, strangely beautiful in a sort of exotic way. Whereas the other skin thing are just a bit common! Have a whiff of ginger of them. I can prove moles are dusky, actually I'm covered in the things. And I went to the doctor, said "are my moles evil?" And he couldn't answer me, er...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation sadly.

NP: Definite er there. Yes and so moles is over to you Paul and you got in with 15 seconds to go starting now.

PM: Well moles of course are very... dependable...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Hesitation.

NP: I think there was a hesitation...

PM: Do you?

NP: I do indeed! For once you didn't get going with your usual flourish and just...

PM: I'm getting older!

NP: It's one of those difficult interpretations and the benefit of the doubt goes to Clement Freud so he has moles and 11 seconds starting now.

CF: When I left Dugrovnik it said "disappear, go to England, spend 35 years doing Just A Minute and then when we have need of someone we will call you...


NP: So Clement Freud again speaking as the whistle went gained that extra point. He's now one ahead of Graham Norton in second place and then Paul Merton and Ross Noble in that order. And Clement your turn to begin and the subject is a good rule of thumb. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

CF: A good rule of thumb when you go to a restaurant to which you haven't frequently gone is to call the head waiter and say "everything is disgusting, you should be ashamed of yourself, sack the chef and go away and put talcum powder under your arms".


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: It's the ravings of a lunatic! That's not... Do we want people from Peru coming over here, complaining to heads and sticking talcum powder under their arm?

NP: Not at all, no! Forty-two seconds available to you Paul on a good rule of thumb starting now.

PM: King Thumb of course was a very popular Monarch some time in the late 17th century in Norway. And people used to love his reign because he would be very nice and kind and would say "today, it's going to be sunshine followed by scattered showers". In many ways he was the first weatherman! And people would swarm and listen to his wise words. He would stand at the top of his castle, surveying his kingdom in front of him, and say "I speak to you now as your ruler! I am the almi...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: He said I twice.

NP: Yes! I, he emphasised the I. Oh well... a minute ago you were rooting for him and now you're rotting for Paul Merton. You can't be as fickle as that! It was, he emphasised the I, and er...

PM: Well he was the King wasn't he?

NP: Yes, I know but...

CF: He should have said we!

NP: Within, within...

PM: Oh yes!

NP: He should have used the word we.

PM: Well to tell you the truth, I made it up anyway! There was no King Thumb in Norway in the 17th century! You look it up, you won't find him!

NP: But within the rules of Just A Minute...

PM: But by repeating a vowel sound, that's good enough for me!

NP: You repeated I, the first person singular and Ross got in first, 13 seconds for you Ross, a good rule of thumb starting now.

RN: A good rule of thumb is if it don't, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Two don'ts which is a longer word than I!

NP: Don't rub it in, you rotten thing!

GN: Oh it's war now!

RN: Yeah!

NP: Anyway you got the subject back, nine seconds Paul, a good rule of thumb starting now.

PM: My thumb measures I would say about two and a half inches. And if I was looking to find that particular measurement on a piece of paper, I want to know exactly...


NP: Right so Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went gained that extra point. He's still one behind our leader who is Clement Freud. Oh he's equal with Graham Norton in second place. Graham it's your turn to begin, the subject is what I keep in my sporran. That's a nice subject for someone as outrageous as you Graham. Tell us something about it in this game starting now.

GN: What I keep in my sporran is not the same as it used to be. Following an unfortunate incident involving yoghurt some years ago, I've learnt not to keep perishables in my sporran. Look as you might, you won't find cheese or even cold sliced bit of meat. No, now it's all stationery, tissues, a selection of pencils, go on, take one! I really don't mind! My sporran is made out of my dead dog Trixie because I thought it was nice to keep the wee kent terrier with me for the rest of my life. And of course now I don't have to clean her...


NP: Clement Freud has challenged you.

GN: Oh thank God for that!

NP: The sad thing about this game is that someone can go hillariously as that for 52 seconds and get nothing for it! It is awwwww. It's worse than that actually, it's even... but whoever challenges correctly and it was Clement Freud, what was the challenge? I think it was a correct challenge...

CF: He repeated of course.

NP: He repeated of course, that's right, and so you have eight seconds to tell us something about what I keep in my sporran Clement starting now.

CF: Underpants, mars bars, milky ways, and occasional pieces of Gorgonzola or Dulcelata cheese...


NP: So Graham who did all the hard work and has entertained the audience has got no points at all. Clement Freud coming in with eight seconds to go and getting one for speaking as the whistle went, he got two more and he's now equal with Graham Norton in the lead. Paul Merton it's your turn to begin, the subject is turning the corner. Can you speak on turning the corner in 60 seconds if you want to, starting now.

PM: Yes I would like to address these words to the inhabitants of China. The general Chinese must know they believe they are turning the corner. It's been a long time since the great... oh (starts to laugh)


PM: A long time since the long March I was going to say!

NP: Yes I know, it's so difficult isn't it! Ross you came in first, hesitation obviously, 51 seconds, turning the corner with you starting now.

RN: Turning the corner is an important skill to have if you're a nurse. When you're making up the bed you have to make sure that you can turn the corner over the edge. Unfortunately in hospitals they tend to use sheets instead of the duvet type device which is placed over with the elasticated edge. It's interesting to see nurses using the elasticated... oh I've said it twice now!


NP: It's a frustrating game but they loved it Ross, but Paul you got in first on the elasticated, 32 seconds turning the corner with you starting now.

PM: Charlie Chaplin used to turn a corner in his films by skidding around on one foot and sticking the other one out at a very strange angle. And this was considered a very fun... a very very very very very!


PM: Very very very very!

NP: Very very! And Ross was first in again...

PM: I can't emphasise that enough!

NP: So yes he's emphasised the fact he did repeat very. Ross was the first to buzz and he's got the subject with 22 seconds, turning the corner Ross starting now.

RN: Turning the corner is an important skill to have obviously...


NP: Graham Norton challenged.

GN: Important and skill.

NP: You mentioned important before in the nurse thing...

RN: Oh yes yes!

NP: You have to listen very carefully to what they said the first time. What do you mean ohhhh? He's entitled, it's the rules, this is Just A Minute! It's a correct challenge so...

GN: No I'm playing it like it's war games or something!

RN: This lot's scarlet you know!

GN: I know, in fairness they did, yes!

PM: But you were the one who challenged me on I?

GN: Him! Not me!

PM: No, not you!

GN: No, I let that go! Oh yeah! I'm quite relaxed about the whole thing really!

NP: They do...

PM: If we can't get on up here, what example is that for the world that listens to us?

NP: I do have to say to Ross who's first time with us, that the audience can get like this. It's when they start walking towards you that...

PM: It usually happens around about now, doesn't it!

NP: Graham, you have...

GN: Yes?

NP: ...twenty seconds, turning the corner starting now.

GN: As a non-driver I adore turning the corner. Oh what fun it is to put a pen or perhaps some loose change on the dashboard each time you're turning the corner, and wait for the driver to become so irate...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of driver.

NP: Yes you had the driver more than once.

GN: No, no, non-driver.

PM: Yes!

GN: Ah! A bit of a hyphen!

NP: Non-driver is hyphenated, ah, a hyphenated words are accepted as ah not repetition so Graham you have an incorrect...

GN: This is great news now! Ever.... hyphens for days! Is that okay?

NP: Turning the corner's the subject, you have an incorrect challenge, you have another point and you have six seconds starting now.

GN: Turning the corner isn't all it's cracked up to be. If people have been busy turning the corner we could never....


NP: So Graham Norton was then speaking as the whistle went. With other points in that round he has now surged ahead and he has taken the lead for those interested in points!

GN: I'm glad I got some points!

NP: Yes! You are two points ahead of the... The other three are all equal in second place only two points behind. And Graham it's your turn to begin, the subject is rambling. Are you a rambler? If, anyway talk on the subject, starting now.

GN: Rambling is a popular pastime using...


NP: Paul?

PM: A sudden stop!

NP: A sudden stop...

PM: Sadly!

NP: That's what we call hesitation, a point to you Paul, 56 seconds, rambling starting now.

PM: Rambling is a popular pastime using your feet as you walk along the various paths laid out by various various various various...


NP: Graham Norton challenged.

GN: Yes I did.

NP: Yes you did.

GN: It was the various you said.

PM: It was.

NP: It was, you repeated various, right. Forty-nine seconds, rambling's back with you Graham starting now.

GN: Rambling is made up of people, men and women, usually, and they wear matching jumpers. That's the law! Consider then the difficulty of the rambling rose. How would such a thorny bush get inside knitwear? It's very difficult! The upside is that when the farmer shouts get off my land, the little flowery thing...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: There was a bit of a hesitation but I feel quite bad about that.

GN: No, no, don't! Really don't!

NP: Nobody feels bad in this show Ross. If they can get in and get the points and get the subject, it's what you achieved. You go on rambling with 24 seconds starting now.

RN: Ramblers take their rights of way very seriously. And it's often fun to try and put obstacles in the way, just to see them stick to the paths that they've chosen. For example a large paddling pool that a child might play in, in the summer time, filled up with soapy water. Watching them slide around as packed lunches fly all over the place! Often a bearded man will slip and bang his head against...


NP: Well you've got the audience 100 perecnt with you Ross and you have leapt forward at the end of that round. You're still one behind Graham Norton and you are three behind Clement Freud who is two behind our leader Paul Merton. And that is the situation as we go into the final round...

GN: Would it be fair to say that Ross is last then?

PM: No, no, no, fourth! Fourth!

GN: Sorry, yes!

RN: Don't pull any punches, you know!

NP: No, I, I, I never put it that way because nobody is last in this show. Because...

PM: Ross is!

GN: Ross is! Yeah!

RN: You're so close to standing up and just pointing at me and going "Loser!"

NP: No, no, it's the contribution that is important, not the points. And Ross from the audience reaction they know your contribution is valued!

RN: I'm still not winning though!

NP: Well it's the first time you've been in the show you've done jolly well to keep up with the others the way you have. And you take the last round, it's belly laughs. Well you take it, but you start it anyway... no, I didn't mean that unkindly!

GN: Don't bother being nice, he's losing Nicholas!

NP: The subject is belly laughs. Ross it's your turn to begin and you start now.

RN: Belly laughs describe the kind of laugh which comes deep within the stomach and rises up. This is why I always make a point of never performing in front of fat people. The trouble with that is that it takes so long for it to make its way through their large guts that you can be on stage for over two and a half hours before a simple titter has left the mouth. Sometimes those mouths are actually filled with crisps...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Sorry. I thought he said mouths twice...

NP: No..

CF: He aid mouth and mouths.

NP: He said mouth and mouths.

CF: Right.

NP: So you actually get a point for that.

RN: Yes, I intended to do that! Yeah!

NP: So you could win yet you know...

RN: No way!

NP: You've got another point, you're now equal with Graham Norton, you've got another 37 seconds, get challenged a few more times, belly laughs starting now.

RN: Another good way to get belly laughs is to go down to a plastic surgeon...


NP: Graham Norton challenged.

GN: Well it's sort of deviation because we haven't heard a good way to get them yet!

NP: Why, it's not sort of... it doesn't matter if it's a good way or a bad way to get them. No it doesn't matter, it's not deviation.

GN: No, but it's not another! The only way we've heard so far!

NP: It doesn't matter...


NP: By the way listeners that was Ross putting his buzzer right into Graham Norton's face!

RN: Sorry I've turned now! I just want to win! I just want to win!

GN: You've got an extra point now!

RN: Oh God!

NP: Once again listeners I have two on my left and two on my right. Graham Norton...

PM: You're very lucky!

GN: You should see a doctor!

PM: You're wasted on radio really, aren't you!

NP: Right, another point to you Ross, you still have the subject, 34 seconds, belly laughs starting now.

RN: If you go down to a liposuction clinic and remove all of the fat that they've thrown into the bin, you can push that into a space hopper. And it really is a humorous way of spending an afternoon. People will go "look at the belly laughs they're having" as you bounce around on top of someone's lardy innards. Little kids enjoying themselves as the race continues down the street in the International Hopping Challenge that is in this... thing...


NP: Paul Merton you've challenged.

PM: There was a hesitation.

NP: Was there? The audience were laughing so much I couldn't hear any hesittaion actually.

GN: I tell you all, it'7;s mob rule!

NP: I don't think he can win any way actually though I know you'd like him to win, I know...

GN: Are you looking for cash Nicholas?

NP: Paul's out in the lead. You would like Ross to finish the show wouldn't you? Because there's only eight seconds to go. I thought so. Right...

RN: Eight seconds!

NP: So Ross the audience want you to finish the show, there's eight seconds available...

RN: Oh God!

NP: Carry on belly laughs...

RN: Please no!

NP: ...starting now.

RN: The biggest belly laugh I ever received was when I taked part in a school sports day. I climbed up to the top of the diving board and leapt off...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Two Is!

NP: Oh right back to the beginning of the show, yes! Tit for tat, he didn't forget it, he was waiting to get back!

PM: An I for an I!

NP: You never spoke a truer word. He got you on the Is in the first round and you got in in the very last round with one second to go. Right you have one second Paul on belly laughs starting now.

PM: Burke and Hale were very funny people...


NP: So I said that was to be the last round and indeed it is the last round and I give you just the final score for those interested in the points. Well on this occasion Graham Norton was only just in fourth place, but... no, no, no, no, no, no, fourth place is really... it's almost like winning on this show! It's not...

PM: It's closer to being last!

NP: And one point ahead of him because he did so well with that last flourish of his was Ross Noble. And one point ahead of him so it shows you how close it was Clement Freud...

GN: Can I just say I gave you that point!

NP: Yeah! And a few points ahead was Paul Merton so we say this week Paul Merton you are a winner! It only remains for me to say thank you to our four exciting players of the game which is Paul Merton, Graham Norton, Ross Noble and Clement Freud. I thank Janet Staplehurst for helping me keep the score, blowing her whistle after 60 seconds. We thank our producer Claire Jones for her tolerance and understanding and forbearance and also the man who originally created the game, that was Ian Messiter. And we're indebted to this lovely excitable audience here at the Pleasance in Edinburgh. And from me and from all of us here, Nicholas Parsons, until we meet again, bye bye!