WELCOME TO JUST A MINUTE!
starring CLEMENT FREUD, NICHOLAS PARSONS and GERALDINE JONES, chaired by KENNETH WILLIAMS (Radio, 21 October 1968)
NOTE: Kenneth Williams's first appearance as chairman.
NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Classic Minute! My name is Nicholas Parsons, and I've been chairman of Just A Minute since it began on BBC Radio Four in 1967. Once again we have trawled through the archives to find four outstanding or memorable programmes from the first four decades in which the show ran. Programmes that illustrate not only the high standard the series has always maintained, but also the diversity it has shown. And the way it has kept pace with changing attitudes to comedy and humour. This has been achieved by the quality of those taking part and their ability to be spontaneous and witty in what is truly an ad-lib show. If you heard the first volume of classic episodes, you will recall my assertion that today's keen followers of the show would be amazed at how the game was played in the early days. It still had the same basic premise, no hesitation, repetition or deviation. But the rules were loosely defined and interpreted, so there was not always a lot of logic or consistency in the show. There were certainly some good laughs which sustained it. But the laissez faire approach made the programme sound on occasions rather old fashioned. With the intention of sharpening the format, the creator of the programme Ian Messiter introduced a number of gimmicks early on, such as having rounds where a certain word could be not used, or having me appeal to the studio audience for the final decision on a challenge. Both these innovations had their drawbacks and were eventually dropped, although the practice of appealing to the audience did last for a number of years. As time went by, the series evolved and developed. And I was always alert to any adjustments I might make in my interpretation of the basic rules, if they were to advance the show and keep it funny and entertaining. At the same time those who played the game regularly became sharper and more inventive in their delivery and challenges. The first producer of the programme, David Hatch, made adjustments to try and improve the show. And for the second series in 1968 he experimented with the format which included only three players and the chairman. The players were Kenneth Williams, Clement Freud and Geraldine Jones. We had the other inhibiting factors I have already mentioned. But also for three special shows he experimented even further by having each of the three players taking over the chairmanship for a week, and I went on the panel. The most bizarre of these three special weeks was when Kenneth Williams was in the chair. It was very funny on occasions but utterly undisciplined. Basically Kenneth was lost and confused and relied on Ian Messiter sitting next to him to help with decisions, the score and the timings. Occasionally you can just hear Ian's voice. Every decision Kenneth took was purely arbitrary, made on a whim. And when he was completely confused, he just asked the audience to help him, and often got that wrong. He was as always very funny himself, but the show had a delightfully anarchic feel to it. Purists of Just A Minute may find this recording a little difficult to accept, but there's no denying it is a classic edition of the show and a true archival curiosity in the history of this programme. It's also a fun way to begin this second volume of Just A Classic Minute.
ANNOUNCER: We present Nicholas Parsons, Clement Freud and Geraldine Jones in Just A Minute. And as the Minute Waltz fades away here to tell you about it is this week's chairman Kenneth Williams.
KENNETH WILLIAMS: Thank you, yes it it is me, it's your own, your own heart rendingly lovable Kenneth Williams! And here I am surrounded by stopwatches, buzzers and a lot of rules. I also have a list of unlikely subjects for the panel to talk about for 50, I'm sorry, 60 seconds each without pausing, without going off the subject and without repetition. In other words, keeping going and sticking to the point and not repeating themselves. Now it's Nicholas Parsons to start and your subject this week is the days of the week starting from now.
NP: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. (gives days of week in French) (gives days of week in Italian) It's so interesting sometimes to listen to the wireless and you hear the announcer say that tomorrow will be muggy followed by tueggy, weggy, thurggy, friggy, saggy and soggy. And of course soggy are so many of the days of the week in this country, wet, miserable and eventually so, so wet that you sometimes wonder why you ever get up in the morning to face the British weather. Now the days of the week...
KW: Clement Freud, on what grounds are you challenging?
CLEMENT FREUD: Repetition.
KW: Repetition, yes well I think you're justified there. Yes I think there was a bit of repetition, yes...
NP: What did I repeat?
KW: Um well, I can't exactly recall what, but I know it was repeated. Perhaps we'd better ask the audience. Do you think he was repeating himself. If so cheer.
CHEERS FROM THE AUDIENCE
KW: Oh well, oh that's it...
NP: I admit it, I admit it!
KW: Oh there was repetition. Right well that's a point to you Clement Freud and you have the subject, the days of the week starting from now.
CF: The days of the week are situated in the Chapter Hall of London University and is one of the most splendid buildings of its kind anywhere in any European capital city. The President of this...
KW: Yes well Clement Freud you were still speaking when the bell went so you get a point and at the moment you are leading and Nicholas Parsons and Miss Geraldine Jones are trailing behind..
NP: We haven't scored yet!
KW: Now we go to the next subject. This goes to you Geraldine, you have 60 seconds to speak about parking meters starting from now.
GERALDINE JONES: The essential thing to remember about parking meters is that you must always treat them with respect and affection. There are some inanimate objects like can openers which you can successfully bully. But parking meters should always be treated rather as you treat donkeys. You should feed them little coins as you feed donkeys sugar lumps. And in this way you establish a bond with the parking meter against the traffic warden. Because the parking meter doesn't like the traffic warden...
KW: Nicholas Parsons.
NP: I thought there was rather a lot of parking meters with repetition. There were four I counted.
KW: I got quite worked up there, I loved the bit about the donkey!
KW: She's quite good really!
NP: Well her parking meter's in a very expensive area obviously. But there were four of them.
KW: There were four, were there? Four? Well that is repetition I'm afraid. I have to say therefore Nicholas gets a point for that and the subject goes to you Nicholas. You have 35 seconds in which to discuss parking meters from now.
NP: The best thing to do if you have a car is to put a parking meter on the back seat before you set off. Having arrived at your destination you get out, you stick it straight into the ground and then you...
KW: Clement Freud.
KW: Hesitation, yes, I think it's quite justified. There was hesitation there, yes. Very good. (in Scottish woman voice) There was a weeny bit of hesitation there!
NP: Mr Williams...
KW: The point goes to Clement Freud, you have 23 seconds in which to discuss parking meters starting from now.
CF: It is a little known fact that these parking meters also accept coins of other denominations and other countries. I'm not sure whether I shall be allowed to go on with this because we're now ranging on the criminal activities. But any parking meter in London accepts one cent...
KW: Nicholas Parsons.
KW: Hesitation yes, I feel that's justified, you were hesitating there, I did feel that! Yes! You don't agree?
NP: Of course he doesn't agree!
KW: Well we'd like the audience! We'd like the audience's views on that!
NP: No you don't!
KW: We want the audience's views on that! Do you think Clement Freud was hesitating. If so boo!
BOOS FROM THE AUDIENCE
KW: Oh they do think you were hesitating! Yes! So Nicholas Parsons gets a point and Nicholas you have seven seconds approximately on which to discuss parking meters starting from now.
KW: Clement Freud, you're challenging again.
CF: Hesitation, he didn't start.
KW: Hesitation, yes! that was quite justified! So the subject goes back to Clement Freud...
NP: I said having!
KW: And you have now six seconds in which to discuss parking meters starting from now.
KW: Nicholas Parsons on what grounds are you challenging?
NP: Exactly the same as me, he got me on that, I'll get him as well then!
KW: I will not have my authority flouted! I am the chairman! No don't laugh, it's wicked! I am the chairman! Now I've got...
NP: I don't want to flout with you Kenneth!
KW: I can't keep on appealing to the audience, you must understand! Now you gain the point Clement and you must discuss parking meters, you have approximately five seconds starting from now.
CF: In Northumberland Avenue these parking meters are situated at five yard intervals..
KW: Yes well at the end of that round Clement is definitely in the lead, Clement Freud is in the lead. Nicholas is next and I'm afraid Geraldine is trailing very far behind. So now we go on to the next subject which is Clement Freud's. You have 60 seconds in which to discuss wine, women and song starting from now.
CF: To put it succinctly, Chateau Neuf d'parp 1949. Daphne, Deirdre. God save the Queen! Now this you may think is not the ideal way of discussing wine women and song. But for a married man with only 53 seconds to go, it's a sort of good try.
KW: Nicholas Parsons.
NP: Deviation, I've got a watch in front of me, he actually has more, er less than 53 seconds to go.
KW; Oh well, yes, I'm afraid that's very a very good point, that's a very good point. Yes you gain the point there Nicholas and the subject is yours, wine women and song, you should discuss now for approximately 45 seconds starting from now.
NP: Wie Saint George 1963, Cecilia, Cynthia and Opidiah and songs, oh, take me to the moon and come again Charlie! Delightful songs. And if you ever put all these three together you have the title of this particular subject that I've been asked to talk about for the remaining seconds that are available to me for wine women...
KW: Geraldine Jones why are you challenging?
KW: Repetition, yes I'm afraid that's reasonable, that's perfectly reasonable I'm afraid. Yes Geraldine Jones gains a point and the subject is hers now, wine women and song, you have approximately 14 seconds starting from now.
GJ: I don't think I've ever been less well qualified to talk about a subject than I am to talk about this one. I know very...
KW: Clement Freud why have you...
KW: Deviation, yes.
CF: If she's not qualified, shut up!
KW: Yes I'm afraid so! Absolutely! Very reasonable I must say yes. Clement you gain a point there and the subject is back with you, wine women and song, you have approximately seven seconds to discuss it.
CF: There are many different kinds of wine just as there are different women and different songs. But I'd like to concentrate on the first sentence which is...
KW: Oh! Yes well at the end of that round Clement Freud is definitely in the lead. It's a fantastic lead Clem! I must congratulate you! You're revealing intellectual prowesses here I never knew you...
NP: Oh shut up! He's got two points more than us hasn't he!
KW: It's no good revealing your chagrin Nicholas! I can actually see your chagrin from here! And you are second which is consoling and Geraldine...
NP: You're flouting again you know.
NP: Geraldine I'm afraid lagging like the tortoise Geraldine, you must look up. This is for you Clement, will you speak for 60 seconds on Benjamin Franklin starting from now.
CF: Benjamin Franklin as you all know is the captain of South Hampstead Cricket Club. One of the most vile exponents of underarm bowling it has been my er...
KW: Nicholas Parsons.
KW: Hesitation I'm afraid is absolutely true, you get a point and you take the subject up, Benjamin Franklin, you have 45 seconds starting from now.
NP: Having played against South Hampstead Cricket, I can tell you that Benjamin Franklin's bowling is devastating. The last time I went out to face him I asked...
KW: Yes Clement Freud?
CF: Deviation, underarm bowling is not devastating.
KW: Precisely! I'm afraid that's a very definite point, very valid, very valid. Yes you get one point Clement and the subject is back to you, Benjamin Franklin, you've possibly 35 seconds starting from now.
CF: Since I first met him he has been transferred to West Hampstead Cricket Club for whom he bowls overarm googlies which are quite dangerous. He intersposes these with Chinamen from time to time, but...
KW: Yes Nicholas?
NP: While I know it's a cricketing phrase, to me it is very devious to throw a Chinaman.
KW: Very true!
NP: He was throwing Chinamen...
NP: ...and it sounds to me very... he said they were dangerous too. Dangerous Chinamen.
KW: Oh yes. Yes I think it's a practice which should be frowned upon! Yes! I don't think Chinamen are there to be thrown about! And that's an absolutely valid point, yes valid point. And you gain a point in so doing and you have the subject back and you've got approximately 30 seconds in which to discuss Benjamin Franklin starting from now.
NP: Of course when I played against him and he was playing for West Hampstead Cricket, some of...
KW: Geraldine Jones you're challenging.
GJ: Repetition he was playing against him last time he talked.
KW: Yes we heard an awful lot about that...
NP: He's playing for a different club, a different club!
KW: Now nonetheless my rule must prevail! We heard an awful lot about it, yes! Geraldine Jones gets the subject, you've approximately 15 seconds Geraldine in which to discuss Benjamin Franklin starting from now.
GJ: The only Benjamin Franklin I have ever heard of, as the audience has only ever heard of is the American President. I don't quite know when he lived but I believe that he has his head on some American coin. And all Americans, being patriotic people, look upon him with a sort of friendly benevolence...
KW: Yes well the next subject, this is for Nicholas, Nicholas Parsons. The subject is stirring up a hornet's nest. You have 60 seconds to discuss stirring up a hornet's nest without saying the, T-H-E, the. You must not say the. But you have 60 seconds to discuss stirring up a hornet's nest starting from now.
NP: One of the most...
KW: Yes that's perfectly true, yes it was the wasn't it, he said the Clement, yes you're quite right, you gain a point and you have the subject, stirring up a hornet's nest without saying the starting from now.
CF: One of a very unusual series of accidents befell me when I met some hornets walking down a street in Bayswater Village which as you all know is outside Wiltshire Crematorium near Shaftesbury. These animals buzzed around my head in a perfectly alarming way. And an elderly sexton came up, asked whether perhaps he might be of assistance to which I replied that would be an exceedingly kindly action and touched my hat. Hornets...
KW: Yes Geraldine.
KW: Hesitation, I'm afraid there was a little hesitation there. You gain a point Geraldine and you have the subject, stirring up a hornet's nest without saying the, and approximately 20 seconds to do so starting from now.
GJ: So rich is our language in imagery that I lived to a great age before I realised that hornets were in fact wasps. I had always assumed that stirring up a hornet's nest meant simply making trouble accidentally.
KW: Clement Freud?
KW: Hesitation. Yes quite definitely. Hesitation there, you have one point for that and you have now got about four seconds in which to discuss stirring up a hornet's nest without saying the, starting from now.
CF: Which does mean making trouble to some extent but not...
KW: Well Clement you are like a veritable greyhound in this! And you are still leading, Nicholas still second, Geraldine still third. So let's see if we can make any difference with this one. Geraldine it's for you, can you speak for 60 seconds about blancmange, blancmange without saying A, A, the letter A is on the card, not E-H! The letter A. You have 60 seconds starting from now.
GJ: I have long cherished the ambition to make blancmange a sort of ammunition...
KW: (laughs) Yes I'm afraid you did say it and Clement I presume that was what the challenge was about?
CF: Yes it was.
KW: Yes you get a point and you have the subject, you have to discuss it, you have 55 seconds to discuss blancmange without saying A, starting from now.
CF: Blancmange I seem to recall is the race that takes place in France...
KW: Nicholas why...
KW: Hesitation, yes, I'm afraid there was hesitation there. Nicholas gains a point and you have the subject Nicholas, blancmange, without saying A starting from now.
NP: Blancmange was the most revolting matron I can ever remember.
NP: Ah, M'sieur Williams!
KW: Do you the audience think he was hesitating?
CRIES OF "YES" AND "NO" FROM THE AUDIENCE
KW: You do?
CRIES OF "YES" AND "NO" FROM THE AUDIENCE
KW: Now come along! If you think he was hesitating please say boo!
BOOS FROM THE AUDIENCE
KW: Oh! Well Geraldine you win, you get a point...
NP: If you think not, say cheer!
CHEERS FROM THE AUDIENCE
KW: Yes Geraldine gets the point, you have approximately 40 seconds starting from now.
GJ: There would be no deadlier weapon than blancmange. Imagine a fleet...
KW: Clement Freud why are you challenging?
CF: Imagine A fleet.
KW: Imagine A fleet, it's quite true, you did say it I'm afraid. So you lose the subject and it goes to you Clement. Blancmange without saying A, you have about 35 seconds starting from now.
CF: Blancmange is the stickiest, ugliest, greasiest, most gelatinous substance...
KW: Yes Nicholas why...
NP: Repetition of adjectives!
APPLAUSE FROM THE CROWD
KW: Well it's obvious they're all on your side! So you win the point, a point to Nicholas and the subject is blancmange without saying A, you have approximately 30 seconds starting from now.
NP: This matron Blancmange was at a boarding school...
GJ: At A boarding school.
KW: Yes I'm afraid you said A. Because you see...
NP: I said it deliberately!
KW: You mustn't say A. Yes so Geraldine gets the point and you, it's your turn to speak on blancmange with what, 25 seconds, blancmange without saying A starting from now.
GJ: Great fleets of bombers would rush out and drop vast quantities of blancmange on the luckless enemy. I don't think that any napalm could have such a devastating...
KW: Clement Freud?
CF: Such A devastating.
KW: A yes, there you are, you said it again. So Clement Freud has the subject now, you have 15 seconds starting from now.
CF: Among other...
KW: Geraldine why did you challenge?
GJ: It was a cheek really, A-mong!
KW: No! Quite unjustified! Quite unjustified! Quite unjustified, I don't think among could ever be construed as A. No, I'm not having that! It's a challenge to the very basis of my authority, isn't it! Yes! No! Eh? No! You get it back Clement, you still have 12 seconds in which to discuss blancmange without saying A starting from now.
CF: This is in many respects the finest sweet on a trolley...
KW: Nicholas Parsons.
NP: On A trolley.
KW: Very well, you have to discuss blancmange Nicholas with seven seconds you have starting from now.
NP: It is very difficult to discuss blancmange in seven seconds from now. Very difficult..
KW: Oh! Oh I was very worked up there myself! Oh look, it's narrowing the gap, definitely. The gap is definitely narrowing, Nicholas creeping up on Clement Freud so Clement you'll have to watch it. And Geraldine still lagging a long way behind. So the next one goes to you Clement, you have 60 seconds in which to discuss yodeling without saying and, A-N-D, you mustn't say that all. So you have 60 to discuss yodeling starting from now.
CF: Yodeling is an art form for which I myself have very little time indeed. It is performed by elderly Swiss up mountains which they achieve this noise, I mean to say, by...
KW: Hesitation, hesitation, yes. Well Geraldine you get a point and the subject goes to you, yodeling without saying and for about 45 seconds starting now.
GJ: In my opinion yodeling should never have been allowed to escape from the Alps, where there is a reasonable chance that very few people would ever hear the ghastly noise that yodellers make. Unfortunately pop singers caught on to the idea that yodeling in a much adulterated form could make a nice record and so they...
KW: Clement Freud what's the basis of your challenge?
KW: And, yes, you did say it dear, I'm sorry! Yes you weren't very nice about yodeling. I do that in my bath! I thought it was very rude! So you get the subject back, Clement, yodeling without and, ah, 35 seconds you have starting from now.
CF: I once did a programme on television with Frank Ifield where he spent most of the 28 minutes allocated to the production introducing this fearsome noise to the absolute horror...
KW: Geraldine you're challenging?
KW: Hesitation, I didn't feel it. I didn't feel he really hesitated. So I'm afraid you lose that and you lose a point I'm afraid yes. And you gain a point Clement and you have left five seconds in which to discuss yodeling without saying and starting from now.
CF: This is particularly exciting in the mountains of Lithuania when you...
KW: Half a second to go and you were challenged. Who was it challenged? Nicholas you challenged. What was the challenge?
NP: Deviation, they do not yodel in the mountains of Lithuania!
KW: Oh, oh don't they?
CF: I didn't say they did!
KW: He didn't say they did! What did you say?
CF: In the mountains of Lithuania, of Lithuania you will hear very few yodellers!
KW: Ah well very valid!
CF: If he had let me speak!
KW: Very valid point! Well yes very valid point, it goes back...
NP: He's twisted you round your own rubber!
KW: No! I couldn't be! I'm a man of enormous integrity! I've got great integrity! Yes we give it back to Clement! You must have it! You've got...
NP: He's got all the score!
KW: ...half a second on yodelling without saying and, starting from now.
CF: Very few...
KW: Yes! You've won again! Oh! Oh yes! Well Clement is fantastically in the lead, you've dropped again behind I'm afraid Nicholas. And Geraldine is third. Now this is one where you can catch up Geraldine, it's for you, you have 60 seconds in which to discuss applause starting from now.
GJ: Applause is really rather like money. It's much nicer to receive it than to give it. If you're sitting in the middle of an audience and you have to clap, the chances are that you feel your individuality slipping away from you and you're just one of a mass of ordinary people. If on the other hand you're on the stage and you're receiving the applause you feel tremendously exhilarated. You feel all these good people throughout there are clapping you, just you, and you can...
KW: Oh! What a pity! Nicholas challenged.
NP: Three yous, you know, you, you, you.
KW: Yes you are right. My sympathy there was engaged.
NP: Oh I know, my sympathy. But you see Clement Freud's still in the lead, I've got to fight...
KW: Yes you've got to fight, it's perfectly valid, yes. You get one point, yes and it's your subject then, your subject of applause with 35 seconds starting from now.
NP: There are different kinds of applause. There is the slow hand clap, the fast hand clap. There's one that comes like a pistol shot to you as though somebody's swatting a fly. There's someone that makes a sound as if a barber is stropping his razor. But of course applause basically comes from the old Latin one, plaw and al. Now Al was a very interesting chap in Roman times. He was the one who walked over the Alps with Hannibal and when he got to the top...
KW: Geraldine why did you challenge?
GJ: Deviation, he's talking about Al Plaws and not applause.
KW: Yes that's perfectly valid yes, absolutely valid point. You gain one point Geraldine, the subject back to you, applause with 12 seconds starting from now.
GJ: The better the applause the louder it is. It's nice too when people add to the clapping by standing up, even standing on their chairs, even standing on the backs of their chairs in order to...
KW: Well our little lady won that round. I thought she was really wonderful! Isn't that wonderful! Yes and more power to your elbow darling! Geraldine creeping up a little now but Clement Freud I'm afraid, still in the lead. And Nicholas still second. So we go to the next subject now which is for Clement. Clement will you talk for 60 seconds on annual reports starting from now.
CF: Annual reports have an extraordinary tendency of coming once a year. They're made by chairmen or managing directors of companies at boring meetings where the news that are given them are only alleviated to some extent by the handing around of food and drink. Many of the food producing companies on the stock market have these annual meetings in hotels and shareholders only turn out to get a small parcel of goodies like bacon, beer and fried potato crisps which they then take out..
KW: Yes Nicholas?
NP: I don't think that bacon, beer and potato crisps has got anything to do with the annual report, I consider that to be deviation.
KW: Yes, I'm afraid you're absolutely right and you gain a point and the subject is yours, annual reports with 30 seconds starting now.
NP: I'm sorry that you asked me to talk about annual reports because it is a very difficult subject...
KW: Oh yes Clement Freud, you're challenging?
KW: Deviation! Yes!
CF: It was his own fault!
KW: Quite so! It was! Yes absolutely fair! Absolutely fair, yes! And the subject goes back to you Clement, so you have 20 seconds in which to discuss annual reports starting from now.
CF: Because the financial year finishes in April, annual reports tend to take place in the early months of the year so that the budget can take into account...
KW: Hesitation. Yes there was a little hesitation there, you gain one point and the subject is yours. You've got at least eight seconds to discuss annual reports starting from now.
GJ: The only possible way to make annual reports interesting is to invent them. There is nothing more fun than sitting at a committee meeting when you know that all the people present have been present...
KW: Oh and you've won that one! Oh well this in fantastic! You're really creeping up darling! Oh this is wonderful! You are level now with Nicholas Parsons! Isn't that fantastic! Yes! But both of you are miles behind Clement! Next one is... oh that's the end isn't it! No we can't have any more! No! So that's the end I'm afraid of Wait A Minute, and we'll be back...
KW: What is that?
NP: Deviation, it's called Just A Minute! Not Wait A Minute!
KW: Oh is it? We should get it correct then!
ANNOUNCER: The chairman of Just A Minute this week was Kenneth Williams, the programme was devised by Ian Messiter and produced by David Hatch.