NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: 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. But also to welcome onto the show this week four exciting and individual and clever performers of this game. We are thrilled to have back the unique humour of Paul Merton, the outrageous humour of Graham Norton, the stylish humour of Sue Perkins and the sophisticated humour of Clement Freud. Please welcome all four of them! And as usual I am going to ask them to speak if they can on a subject I will give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviating from the subject. Beside me sits Janet Staplehurst, she's going to help me keep the score, she'll blow her whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the Radio Theatre in the heart of Broadcasting House in the very heart of the Westpoint area of the great metropolis of London. And in front of us we have a great metropolitan audience, really to cheer us on our way. As we begin the show today with Paul Merton, Paul, the subject is how to win friends and influence people. Talk on that subject if you can, 60 seconds starting now.

PAUL MERTON: When I was growing up I was quite a shy boy. But I found if I could make the other kids at school laugh they tended to like me a bit more. I think you'll find that a lot of people who went into the world of show business and/or entertainment came from a similar type of background. There's something paradoxical about the performer who is actually so timid...


NP: And Clement Freud has challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: Ah, two actuallys.

NP: Yes there were actually...

PM: Was there?

NP: Yes.

PM: In this show?

NP: In this show. And during that last few seconds!

PM: Really? I find that amazing.

NP: So Paul, Clement a correct challenge, so you get a point for that of course, you take over the subject, there are 40 seconds available, how to win friends and influence people starting now.

CF: I think currently the very best way of winning friends and influencing people is to award them a Bank Holiday! And one which is...


NP: Sue Perkins you challenged.

SUE PERKINS: Ah hesitation.

NP: There was a hesitation Sue, a correct challenge, a point to you and the subject, and there are 26 seconds available, how to win friends and influence people starting now.

SP: The last friend I won was in a tombola at a school fete in 1974. It was strange and unexpected. He turned out to be a gentleman called Nigel, who spent the subsequent years following me around from pillar to post. And although I find him an affable and agreeable man, I somehow wish he wouldn't climb into bed with me at the end of the evening! He was after all a raffle prize and therefore does not necessarily deserve a position by my bedstead...


NP: Well done! Whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Sue Perkins and Sue, you won't be surprised to hear has got a commanding lead at the end of that round. She has three points, Clement Freud has one, Graham Norton and Paul have yet to score. But Sue we'd like you to take the next round because the subject is school days. I'm sure you've got something to say about them, 60 seconds starting now.

SP: My early school days took place in a convent where I learned that it wasn't important to understand mathematics, science, litreature or art, but rather I should never eat left-handed, otherwise a bolt would come down from heaven and strike me down! Because I was indeed Satan's hand maiden! As I progressed the school days seemed to me to be nothing more than a series of detentions where I would spend time in a small beige room writing the line "repetition is a pointless exercise" 1000 times. As I grew older I discovered that more pain at school was to be found in the gymnasium which acted like a sports Darwinian version of Survival of the Fittest. I was a quick...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Oh it's very harsh but there was a sort of hesitation.

NP: There was a hesitation there...

PM: Very harsh.

NP: I mean she kept going for...


NP: Excuse me! Who's running this game!

PM: I'll take you on, a row at a time!

NP: It was a little hesitation so Paul a correct challenge, you have the subject, you have a point, you have 19 seconds and the subject is school days starting now.

PM: Well like Sue I was taught by nuns. I presume that's the people that were actually teaching her at the convent. And I found some of them quite nice and ... oh...


PM: Sorry I was about to swear!

NP: I know!

GRAHAM NORTON: I sensed that and I buzzed!

NP: So Graham Norton you challenged first, a hesitation, and you have nine seconds, tell us something about your school days starting now.

GN: I so looked forward to my school days, dressed in my stark blazer and jumper. I was appalled when I arrived to find everyone else...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: No trousers?

GN: I started as I meant to go on!

NP: Paul we enjoyed the remark, it wasn't exactly a challenge. But what I like to do on these occasions because the audience enjoyed it so much is to give you a bonus point for your interruption. Graham you have two seconds available still on school days starting now.

GN: School days were definitely not...


GN: Oh my!

NP: So Graham Norton was speaking when the whistle went and with the other points in that round Graham has now taken the lead ahead of Sue Perkins. And Clement Freud your turn to begin. And the subject is now chalk and cheese. Tell us something about chalk and cheese in Just A Minute starting now.

CF: Chalk is made of limestone whereas cheese is coagulated compressed milk curds. And if you really can't tell one from the other, try using gorgonzola on a blackboard to write the Lord's Prayer and you're going to discover extraordinary differences between the two. Ah edam, gorgonzola, gouda, chilata, cheddar, chester, I could go on for a very long time...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Sorry when you said you could go on for a very long time, I automatically buzzed!

NP: Yes!

PM: So I challenged...

NP: Have you got any challenge within the rules of Just A Minute?

PM: Well there was a er.

NP: There was a little er there.

PM: Yes.

NP: Yes, in between, we spotted that, yes.

CF: It's a cheese!

NP: So Paul, an er, a pause, 24 seconds, tell us something about chalk and cheese starting now.

PM: Twenty-four seconds to talk about chalk and cheese is barely enough!


NP: Clement Freud you challenged first.

CF: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation.

CF: A slight one!

NP: Nineteen seconds, back with you, chalk and cheese, Clement starting now.

CF: Breastblow is the sort of chalk I would particularly recommend to my listeners. Nothing is nicer than wrapped in silver paper, oozing cream with bits of green mould...


NP: Graham Norton challenged.

GN: Oh deviation from sense, that sounds vile! The thing's gone off! Throw it away Sir Clement!

NP: I think it was deviation in the sense that he's now concentrating on cheese and not on chalk and...

CF: I'm going back to it!

GN: Oh yes that's what I meant as well, yes!

NP: And so I think we give you the benefit of the doubt Graham and you have three seconds, you tell us something about chalk and cheese starting now.

GN: I well remember Mrs Hegarty in the domestic science class...


NP: So Graham Norton was again speaking as the whistle went, coming in just before that very cleverly and got another point for that and others. So he's now in a stronger lead at the end of the round. And Graham it's also your turn to begin...

GN: I'm in the lead?

NP: You're in the lead.

GN: I've never once been in the lead in this game ever!

NP: Graham you have...

GN: No, no, no, no, no, no, don't patronise me!

NP: You're not, you're getting them on... actually Graham, you're wrong, you have been in the lead, I do remember these things and you actually won on one occasion.

GN: No I've never, no, I've never won!

NP: I'm sure you've won once!

GN: No, no, perhaps in a dream you had! He saw me in a waking vision!

PM: You might be psychic Nicholas, it might be this show.

NP: It might be this show, you never know.

PM: You might have done something spooky!

NP: I must say when Graham looks at you like that and says it must have been in a dream you had about me, oh dear me! Graham the subject is seals, tell us something about seals in Just A Minute starting now.

GN: It strikes me that seals truly are party animals. There must be a huge glitter bowl roving around the Antarctic because I'm always reading about the clubbing seals. They must be up all night in their little outfits...


GN: Oh but somebody buzzed.

NP: Oh some... Paul you challenged.

PM: There was a repetition of the phrase they must be.

NP: They must be, you're quite right yes. I was so carried away with this picture of these seals all clubbing together...

GN: Are you going anywhere?

NP: Not with you Graham. Paul a correct challenge, 43 seconds, you tell us something about seals starting now.

PM: I've got two seals at home. They make marvelous pets. Chalk and Cheese. And what I do, is I get a rubber ball, they bounce it from one nose to the other. And what fun they are. I feed them every 5.00, ah...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Deviation.

NP: Why?

CF: Sense. You can't feed them every 5.00.

PM: Well, there's a 5.00 at least two days, two times a day, so that's when I feed them.

NP: You're...

PM: I get up in the morning...

NP: ...presumably challenging on the fact it's deviation...

PM: They're my seals! I can feed them when I like!

NP: I think you're challenging on the fact that it's a deviation from grammar as we understand it. So it's a difficult decision but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt Clement, but I will try to find a way to redress it later Paul. So... well I've got to be fair, otherwise I'll get massacred outside afterwards. Thirty-two seconds Clement on seals starting now.

CF: Seals is an acronym for Stop East Anglia Lassoing Snails. It's a fairly small company set in Wickham Market or actually Camcy Ash which is quite close on the A12. And you can join by sending a postal order for four pounds...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Let me get this right! Clement challenged me last time because I wasn't talking sense!

NP: Yeah! Deviation from grammar, but you can have him, deviation from common sense, yes. I don't believe it exists! And therefore I give you the benefit of the doubt on this occasion Paul you have another point, there are 10 seconds, you have seals starting now.

PM: Well the acronym is actually Scottish Eagles Always Lick Salmon which is an extraordinary event which happens every August. Next time...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: I don't believe it exists!

NP: Hoisted on your own petard I'm afraid! So Clement you have it back, another point, three seconds, seals, starting now.

CF: Blubber is hugely important...


NP: So Clement Freud speaking as the whistle went got one point for that, and others in the round, has helped him move forward and he's equal now with Graham Norton in the lead. Paul Merton follows and then Sue Perkins in that order. They're very close. And Paul it's your turn to begin and the subject is the bare necessities. Tell us something about the bare necessities starting now.

PM: The last film that Walt Disney worked on was The Jungle Book which I think was released in 1967, and then he died shortly after that. And one of the great songs in the film which was performed by Phil Harris in the character of Baloo the bear is The Bear Necessities. I think now if we all mentally go through the words, I'll just leave a little gap for you to recall those marvellous beautiful tunes that were conjured up in all those wonderful... oh...


NP: Sue Perkins you challenged.

SP: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation yes. Sue tell us something about the bare necessities and there's 36 seconds available starting now.

SP: The Bare Necessities of course was a slightly more riskier option for Walt Disney. Originally the Bible Belt right wingers of the deep south in America wanted The Clothed Necessities! Sadly artistic integrity pulled through and thus we have the shining example of nudity that we see in the film today. I don't remember much about the er enterprise itself but...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Hesitation.

NP: There was a er there, I'm sorry Sue. So Clement you have 16 seconds, you take over the bare necessities starting now.

CF: I think beluga, soured cream, whipped eggs, yolks particularly...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: I don't remember their being bare necessities but maybe I'm wrong.

NP: No even if they are in ...

SP: That's deviation.

NP: Even in his world, even if they are bare necessities, he had not established the fact early enough that they were. So...

CF: What could you have with beluga caviar?

NP: You hadn't established that they were bare necessities.

CF: Ah!

NP: Maybe in your world they are bare necessities, but to most humble people like ourselves they're not bare necessities, they're luxuries that we can, we can often do without.

CF: That's why I was going on about the onion and the cream. And the eggs.

NP: I think we're...

CF: In case you didn't want the caviar!

NP: But you hadn't got there in time, so Sue's..

CF: No!

NP: ...challenge was correct and you have deviation, Sue, 10 seconds and a point of course, bare necessities, starting now.

SP: The Jungle...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Ah gap!

NP: Yeah there was a gap I'm afraid.

SP: I was drawing breath!

NP: Yes...

PM: Ah that's a mistake in this game!

NP: You're usually so quick off the mark as well Sue... I'm not talking personally...

SP: Well thank you.

GN: It's another dream!

NP: Another dream! Yes!

SP: The foul sewers of Nicholas's mind!

NP: I know but it does add grist to the mill in Just A Minute. Right Paul Merton, eight seconds available, the bare necessities Paul starting now.

PM: Adam and Eve were walking around the Garden of Eden and suddenly this snake came up to them and started tempting them with the idea that they could actually be bigger...


NP: Right, so Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, and now he's equal in the lead with Clement Freud, one point behind is Graham Norton, and one point behind him is Sue Perkins. And Sue your turn to begin, crawling. There are 60 seconds available and you start now.

SP: There are many phases of crawling. First when you are a child, on your hands and knees demanding things from your parents, bumping into pieces of furniture. And then you learn to stand up and realise that your name is synonymous with being blamed for everything. Then the next phase of crawling is you're 18 years old...


NP: Graham Norton challenged.

GN: I might be very wrong though...

SP: Do be and give points!

GN: Did you say phase more than once?

NP: I think she did say phase before. The first phase...

GN: All right! I'm right actually! You say phase, right!

SP: I said phase...

GN: You just kept saying it!

NP: Graham, 42 seconds...

GN: It's magical! Forty-two of them?

NP: Forty-two seconds, crawling with you Graham starting now.

GN: Crawling is something I usually do late at night to get home! I have crawled into some fabulous establishments over the years. The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh has seen me crawling up its marble steps, where I met the Concierge, a French word meaning man in a coat who opens the door. I let him and in I crawled, smelling quite badly of fish and chips, with a small swarm of flies following me across the lobby to the lift. I crawled in and...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of crawled.

NP: Yes the word is crawling on the card and you said crawled twice. It's a pity because we loved it, yes. So Clement you have six seconds and you have crawling starting now.

CF: I think of all the young handsome virile people I know, Nicholas Parsons has got to be...


NP: That's what they call wicked timing! He paced it out for six seconds, you'll never know what he was going to say! Was it one of those rare Freud compliments or was it one of those regular put-downs? You'll never know!

CF: I...

NP: Clement... what?

CF: I was crawling!

NP: Oh you were crawling to the chairman! Right! So Clement you don't need to because you got another point for speaking as the whistle went and others in the round, you've increased your lead ahead of Graham Norton and Paul Merton and Sue Perkins. And Graham...

GN: Yes?

NP: It's actually your turn to begin...

GN: Right!

NP: The subject is thank you letters. Will you tell us something about thank you letters in this game starting now.

GN: Often of a morning I will awake and think to myself "thank you, letters". Because they are marvelous aren't they. How else could you find out where the residents parking is, without the R, the E, the S, the I, the D, the... I'm not quite sure I know how to spell that word! It's not on the card! Do I look like a bit of a fool? Letters are super things...


NP: Clement Freud has challenged.

CF: Repetition of letters.

NP: Letters? Letters is on the thing, thank you letters...

CF: Ah!

GN: Oh, oh...

NP: I'm reluctant to mention the fact you have been playing...

GN: Damn!

NP: ...playing the game for 35 years. You are allowed to mention the words on the card, the phrase or the words individually...

CF: Really?

PM: I didn't know that, no.

NP: Of course you knew it, 33 seconds, Graham an incorrect challenge, so you get another point, you're increasing your lead, you have thank you letters starting now.

GN: I once received a very vague thank you letter from some people whose wedding I attended. I went there without a present because I'm a little bit tight! So what I did was I simply threw a gift tag on top of the pile of joy they had received. And they sent me a letter that was really quite non-specific about how grateful they were...


NP: Graham Norton kept going again until the whistle went, gained that extra point, has increased his lead. And Paul Merton, your turn to begin, the subject, the worst night of my life. Can you reveal anything, if not talk about the subject, 60 seconds starting now.

PM: There are a few candidates for the worst night of my life. There was an incident recently when I was flying on a plane to the Maldives which is an interesting story, because it illustrates the necessity of wearing a seat belt when you're flying at all times. We hit this stuff called clear air turbulence which basically means the plane plummets down about a thousand feet which is what happened. And if you're not wearing the attached thing that they give you, you fly about five feet up in the air, hit the ceiling, and bounce up and down as the thing in the air...


NP: Clement you challenged.

CF: Repetition of thing.

NP: Yes, you had the thing around your waist and the thing, oh you were struggling so well, getting out of it so well and then you brought the thing out. Bad luck there, you went for 30 seconds and Clement's got in with 30 seconds available, the worst night of my life starting now.

CF: The concept of Her Majesty in the throning room at Buckingham Palace placing a sword on your shoulder and stating "you are the worst knight of my life" is one that nobody who has been honoured should take lightly. Because it is the most appalling insult. There are so many knights, theatrical...


NP: Sue Perkins challenged.

SP: Repetition of knight.

CF: It's the...

NP: No, night is on the card. Did you say knights twice?

CF: No.

NP: Um Clement you didn't say it, six seconds, the worst night of my life, starting now.

CF: Was Tuesday the 14th of September nineteen hundred and forty-nine from six...


NP: Clement Freud speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point and others in the round, and he's moved forward, he's one behind Graham Norton, and Paul Merton and Sue Perkins follow in that order. And Sue your turn to begin, and the subject now is put-downs starting now.

SP: A comedian working in a nightclub will often face hecklers who tend to be a large group of estate agents and for whom this is the only night out in the year. They will proceed to consume approximately 47 gallons of cheap cider each, and then attack the person who has the good sense to be on stage. A lot of comics tend to respond with what is known as put-downs. These usually range from "I remember when I first had my pint... first pint...


SP: That's why I don't do the clubs!

NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: We call that hesitation, Paul, you have 30 seconds, tell us something about put-downs starting now.

PM: I once saw a book which was advertised in the back of the stage, 101 Fantastic Heckler Put-downs. So I looked through and they were all awful, apart from one. If you're being heckled by a bald man, you can say to him "excuse me sir, are you without hair, or is your neck blowing bubble gum". That's the only one... that was actually any good...


PM: That's the only one that was any good!

NP: Clement Freud you challenged.

CF: Repetition.

NP: Of what? I have to know whether it was the right one or not.

CF: Yeah, I've... I've forgotten. When I buzzed I remembered.

PM: It's a new element to the game, isn't it!

NP: It's a new element to the game!

PM: Test your short-term memory!

NP: Yes!

PM: We could be here for weeks!

NP: Paul you have another point and you have, you have nine seconds starting now.

PM: Perhaps the greatest put-down that was ever issued by anybody in a public arena, happened on the night, I was there in fact to see it, and I don't know what I'm talking about...


NP: Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went gained an extra point. He's moved forward but he's still in third place just ahead of Sue Perkins and Clement it's your turn to begin, the subject is my favourite room. Tell us something about my favourite room in this game starting now.

CF: My favourite room without any doubt is my wine cellar. Rows upon row...


NP: Oh!

PM: Not that old one!

NP: He got you on it yes.

PM: Well I was going to go for repetition but he said rows and then he said row.

NP: I know he did, I know he did. Just for those in the audience who didn't quite, he said rows upon row! And it's an old ply, he's been playing the game for a long time. Clement you have another point, you have 54 seconds, my favourite room starting now.

CF: Bottles, magnums... mag...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes I think so Paul, you tell us something about my favourite room, 50 seconds starting now.

PM: My favourite room is Clement Freud's wine cellar. I've tunneled in there, he has no idea! I live in the house in the opposite road and I go underneath the street. And I have all these lovely magnums of wine that he's got laid out there...


PM: Oh I've repeated wine.

NP: Graham Norton challenged.

PM: Does it matter?

GN: Oh...

PM: Can't we just be friends?

GN: In fairness it doesn't really matter, no. But you did!

NP: What?

GN: Wine.

NP: Yes that's right. Yes that's correct, I have to know in case...

GN: Well I told you, I told you.

NP: I know!

GN: I didn't want to bore the audience.

NP: I had to hear it from your lips! I have to know, you might come out with a different challenge...

GN: That's very true.

NP: Yes!

GN: Right!

NP: Thirty-seven seconds for you to tell us Graham something about my favourite room starting now.

GN: My favourite room is one with a view. That gorgeous one in Florence...


NP: Sue Perkins challenged.

SP: Ah, massive elongation of vowels while brain kicks in!

GN: That's not a challenge, no, that's just a commentary! That's what was going on!

NP: That is a perfect description and I will say yes, but if you elon, if you elongate any more then I would have to interpret that as hesitation. But I didn't think you elongated quite enough...

GN: Ooohh, is that like a written warning now?

SP: Stop elongating Graham!

NP: That's a yellow card instead of a red.

GN: All right.

NP: Right, so you have 30 seconds, my favourite room still with you Graham, with another point of course, starting now.

GN: Curse Helen Bonham Carter's hair, I couldn't see a thing out of that window in the room...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Deviation.

NP: What?

CF: He didn't elongate at all!

NP: So he didn't elongate, so he wasn't deviating. You tried for a clever challenge but it didn't really work. And it's not strictly within the rules of Just A Minute. So...

GN: Oh some more!

NP: ... Graham you have another point...

GN: Great!

NP: And you have 25 seconds, my favourite room starting now.

GN: My favourite room in the whole world is my new bathroom. Oh it's gorgeous. It's tiled throughout in a sort of terra-cotta thing that sadly is porous, which means water will go through it. I have been parted with my money...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

GN: He said six seconds! That was about a minute!

NP: You have six seconds left, you had 26 before.

GN: Oh ah, what...

NP: You had 25 seconds I said last time...

GN: So that ramble about my bathroom lasted longer, less than six seconds?

NP: No it went on for 20 seconds...

GN: Oh God, oh I see...

NP: Nineteen seconds...

GN: Oh yeah.

NP: That's all right, you rambled a bit and Paul got in with a challenge.

PM: The I was 4.6 seconds long!

NP: I think we will have to interpret that as a hesitation...

GN: Please do!

NP: Six seconds now on my favourite room with you Paul starting now.

PM: Undoubtedly my favourite room lies in Fenchurch Street. You go to number 34, ask for Nellie and you...


NP: Right Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point. He's moved forward, he's almost equal with Clement Freud in the sense that he's one point behind Clement in second place. Sue Perkins is trailing just a little. But five points ahead of Clement Freud was Graham Norton, the man who said he's never won on Just A Minute, but he has today, congratulations! So it only remains for me to say thank you to our four exciting players of the game in order down the line: Graham Norton, Sue Perkins, Clement Freud and Paul Merton. Also thank Janet Staplehurst who's helped me keep the score, blown her whistle so delicately after the 60 seconds. We thank our producer and director Claire Jones for her patience and her encouragement. And also we are indebted to Ian Messiter who originally created Just A Minute. And we're also indebted to this lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre in London for cheering us on our way. From them, from the panel, from me Nicholas Parsons, goodbye, tune in the next time we play Just A Minute.