starring PAUL MERTON, PETER JONES, WENDY RICHARD and LEE SIMPSON, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 5 February 1994)

NOTE: Lee Simpson's first appearance.

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Hello my name is Nicholas Parsons. And as the Minute Waltz fades away once more it is my pleasure to welcome the four panelists who this week are going to play Just A Minute. We welcome back three of our regular players of the game, that's Paul Merton, Peter Jones and Wendy Richard. And someone who's only playing the game for the second time, Lee Simpson. Will you please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Miriam Jones who will keep the score and blow a whistle when 60 seconds are up. And as always I will ask our four players to try and speak on the subject I give them. And they will try and do that without hesitating, repeating anything or deviating from the subject on the card. Let us begin the show with Paul Merton. Paul the subject is a great party. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

PAUL MERTON: When we reach the end of this millenium and we wander into the next one, I imagine there will be great parties all over the world. People will be celebrating with fruit cakes they have made specially for the occasion, and they will be jumping and leaping with joy as we beckon ourselves towards that uncertain land called the future. What does it hold in store for us? Who can say? Mystic Meg, we don't know. There's all kinds of things happening in the paranormal. I remember once going to a spiritualist party where the er spiritualist-ic man...


NP: Lee Simpson challenged.

LEE SIMPSON: Oh I was enjoying that very much but there was a bit of hesitation.

NP: There was a bit definitely. A bit of hesitation there. So Lee you have a correct challenge, you get a point for that and you take over the subject which is a great party, and there are 26 seconds left starting now.

LS: The only great parties I ever went to was when I was a teenager. That was because snogging was the thing. You had a one-of-those and you were away. The Watnees Party Pack was the lubricant for these events. You'd pop a hole in the top, drink the whole thing down, you were gone! Outside with Angela Clark possibly, leaning her against the wall because she was too drunk and she'd fall down if you let her go... with your lip...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PETER JONES: That was a hesitation I think.

LS: Yeah it was, yes. I was back there...

NP: Yes he thought about Angela Clark and he really dried up didn't he. Um, two seconds Peter on a great party starting now.

PJ: Well on behalf of the political party which...


NP: When the whistle goes it tells us that 60 seconds are up and whoever is speaking at that moment gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Peter Jones, and Peter it's your turn to begin. The subject, middle age. I don't think there's anything deliberate in that thought because I don't think you've actually reached it Peter. But will you talk on the subject starting now.

PJ: Yes well I suppose it is appropriate in a way because I am just about to emerge from the mid-life crisis. And er I'm looking forward to the twilight years and anything else that may follow. Including the next life, I suppose, if there is one. I'm very doubtful about it but nevertheless a lot of people do seem to believe in it. The middle age, is it? Age, yes. Well... I don't know why it's called that because it seems to be much younger than it was years ago. People became middle aged in the last century when they were about 35, which is nowadays considered fairly youthful. Whereas today there are people of 60 with died hair, and I'm not talking about Bob Monkhouse or anybody else! I would like to point out that the age has advanced, and the middle age, and presumably the twilight years are even later...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of twilight.

NP: You had the twilight years right at the beginning Peter.

PJ: Yes I did. Yes I did yes.

NP: Yes, 59 and a half seconds!

PJ: Oh!


NP: Ohhh!

PJ: Shocking isn't it!

PM: I'm so sorry.

NP: Paul you got in, half a second, middle age, starting now.

PM: Geoffrey Chaucer...


NP: So Paul cleverly got in just before the whistle went and has taken the lead, one ahead of Peter Jones. Lee Simpson will you take the next round, the subject is putting one's foot in it. There are 60 seconds starting now.

LS: I saw that Caroline Quentin in a show, she was rubbish! That woman who was with Mrs Slocombe, whatever happened to her? I thought Frank Muir was brilliant in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. These are three ways I might put my foot in it. The physical sensations that would follow that would be a sweaty patch at the bottom of my spine, which would travel quickly up to the back of my neck over the top of my head, separate round my nose and come...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of my.

NP: When you had my my my, it was...

LS: Yes.

NP: Forty-six seconds for putting one's foot in it, Paul starting now.

PM: I've got this party dress at home and I love wearing it, because you put it on and one foot's got to go in like that and then you have the other appendage at the end of your leg goes in there. And you pull it up and it's quite tight, and you walk down the street. And suddenly you get noticed by the police. And they come up to you and say "what are you doing?" I say "well I'm just enjoying myself just like anybody else, why shouldn't I?" And they say "well all right, mind your own business". And off they go. But there's other ways of putting your foot in it, of course. I remember once my grandfather was pouring a concrete path outside the front door and he said "whatever you do, don't put your foot in this thing that I've just worked on here for the last 12 hours". And of course that was the very thing I'd did because I'd stepped over the doorstep and I went plop, right into the hard substance which he had been waiting to dry. And I'd left a footprint in this particular thing that was there...


NP: Peter Jones you challenged.

PJ: Repetition of thing.

NP: It couldn't have been a hard substance if it was already soft and he put his foot into it. Seven seconds for the second challenge, not the first one Peter, on putting one's foot in it starting now.

PJ: We live very near the Royal Artillery Barracks where there are 200 horses resident. And they exercise outside in the street!


NP: I wondered what the smell was when you walked in Peter! Right! Paul it's your turn to begin, the subject is driving. Will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PM: I can't drive but my mother did attempt to teach me this particular skill when I was 16 years old. She had recently passed her driving test and so she felt qualified to sit next to me in the car while I attempted to propel it forward...


NP: Wendy Richard...

WENDY RICHARD: We've had more than one attempt didn't we.

NP: So Wendy you got in with 47 seconds on driving starting now.

WR: I am hopeless at driving. I failed my driving test six times. I had a tendency to wander over the other side of the road. I tried to tell the examiner it was because my godmother was French, but apparently this doesn't count! I would like to be able to drive because I think it gives you a great sense of independence, and it would save me taking so many taxi cabs. Not that I have anything against the gentlemen who drive these said vehicles because I find most of them charming and chatty and I enjoy my conversations with them when I am travelling in their voitures. I would still..


NP: Lee Simpson.

LS: Sorry, what's a voiture?

WR: I don't know.

NP: Yes.

WR: I think...

LS: I think it's a lovely word.

WR: I know, it is!

LS: (French accent) I leapt into my voiture! I don't know if I should, I came on in my voiture! My voiture!

NP: You're working well tonight!

LS: Thank you Nicholas.

NP: And you have the subject, you have 10 seconds, driving starting now.

LS: The last time I played golf was on the occasion of the marriage of Charles and Diana in 1981 I think. The most problematic part of the game for me was the driving. It's a ruddy great big wooden thing on the end...


NP: So what's at the end of that round? Peter Jones is still in the lead, now he's equal with Paul Merton and then comes Lee Simpson and then Wendy Richard. Wendy take the next round please. The subject, the Channel tunnel. Tell us something about that starting now.

WR: I don't think the Channel tunnel is a very good idea. But I appear to be in the minority. I'm very concerned about all sorts of dreadful things that might happen. We hear of rabies and, and, and...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes indeed, 48 seconds starting now.

PM: I don't want to talk about the Channel tunnel.


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Better be quiet then!

NP: You have the subject Peter, 46 seconds, the Channel tunnel starting now.

PJ: Well I'm never going to travel through the Channel tunnel. Because I should be denying myself the excitement of seeing France loom up over the waves. And that is one of the most exciting things one can have on a holiday I think. Now I've been several times by air, but it isn't quite the same. And going in the Channel tunnel would be like approaching the continent in a submarine. Just about as exciting as that. And I...


NP: Lee challenged.

LS: Too much exciting?

NP: Yes you said something would be exciting before.

PJ: I did, yes. Got carried away!

NP: Yes! Twenty seconds for the Channel tunnel starting now.

LS: The Channel tunnel will be marvelous to ride in. You drive your voiture on to one of the cabins and it goes all the way. You don’t have to leave your voiture all the time...

NP: Yes Peter you got in.

PJ: He did say voiture twice, didn't he.

NP: He definitely said voiture twice. So you, 12 seconds, the Channel tunnel, with you Peter starting now.

PJ: It has cost an enormous amount of money and I can't really see why they've done it. Because although it has created employment for a lot of people and no doubt the people in France...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of people.

NP: Yes Paul you got in with one second to go, repetition of people...


PM: What am I to do?

NP: I know! One second starting now.

PM: Voiture is a...


NP: Paul you were speaking as the whistle went, gained the extra point, you're now in the lead, one ahead of Peter Jones. Peter your turn to begin, the subject is Sophocles. Will you tell us something about him in Just A Minute starting now.

PJ: Well you obviously mean the great Greek playwright who flourished 500 years BC, that's Before Cable. And wrote plays, about a hundred of them. Half a dozen still exist and are performed, but the others have vanished into the er past. Er he...


NP: Lee Simpson challenged.

LS: Yes I did, yes. Er...

NP: Hesitation.

LS: Hesitation.

NP: Yes yes I'm afraid there was. Thirty-six seconds for you on Sophocles starting now.

LS: Sophocles was... no idea!


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

LS: I could pretend, I could say I do, but frankly I don't! Greek, Roman, no idea!

NP: Paul, 34 seconds, Sophocles starting now.

PM: I had a cat once called Sophocles, who enjoyed scratching his claws on the back garden shed. So I thought well, I'm not having this! I don't see why these things that I go out and buy should be ruined by simple domestic animals. I don't see this particular creature bringing home a pay packet, oh no! So what I did was, I killed it!


NP: Peter you challenged.

PJ: Well that does seem a bad example to set to the younger listeners doesn't it, you know.

NP: I know, but I mean he's deviated from Sophocles, he's talking about his cat, isn't he?

PJ: Yes and he's killed that! Let alone the subject!

PM: He's called Sophocles.

NP: I know but... Peter you have a correct challenge and 11 seconds on Sophocles starting now.

PJ: If Sophocles were alive today, he'd be writing for television. And he'd probably be written out by now because he was so prolific. He had a competition with another Greek playwright..


NP: Peter Jones was then speaking as the whistle went and gained that extra point, of course for doing so. He's in second place, one point behind Paul Merton our leader. And Lee Simpson, your turn to begin, the subject footlights. Will you tell us something about those in Just A Minute starting now.

LS: Tony Slattery, Richard Vranch, Neil Mullarkey, Morwena Banks, Sandi Toskvig, Stephen Fry. The number of successful comedy performers have emerged from the Footlights over the years is almost too numerous to mention. This is a society at Cambridge University which is intent on completely dominating the world of entertainment. Why a learning institution on the banks of the Cam should produce such amusing people and so rubbish rowers I have no idea. But perhaps what they should do is replace their team of moving-the-boat-through-the-water people with footlights... thereby...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Well he did hesitate I think there.

LS: I did.

NP: Yes, 24 seconds for you Peter on footlights starting now.

PJ: Yes well I always feel if I'd gone to Cambridge and joined the Footlights my career would have been a more scintillating one even than it has been. And I think perhaps the period that I spent at this 10th rate boarding school really damaged me emotionally in such a way that I shall never be able to shine like this man Slattery. By the way I've been in America recently. It was so nice to be in a country where they've never heard of him!


NP: Peter Jones kept going until the whistle went, gained an extra point. He's now taken the lead, one ahead of Paul Merton. And Wendy it's your turn to begin, the subject is money. Will you tell us something about money in Just A Minute starting now.

WR: I'm not very good with money. I do try to be and get my savings in order. But I sometimes have the great delight of finding odd bits of money, paper or coin, in various jackets or trousers that have been put away...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: This is stealing!

WR: It's my own money!

PM: Well you didn't, you didn't establish that. You said you went round finding money in people's jackets and trousers.

WR: No, mine! I said earlier on I found a 20 pound note in my trousers, that's why they were my favourites.

NP: Paul we liked the challenge, give you a bonus point for that. So Wendy you were inetrrupted, you get a point for that, 40 seconds on money starting now.

WR: Well it certainly wouldn't be my husband's clothing because he always tells me, he's never got any money. When it comes to emptying the washing machine, any money I find lying around in there, I always claim...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of any.

NP: Yes you did have any before. Paul there are 29 seconds on money starting now.

PM: (singing) Money, money, money, must be funny in a rich man's world. (speaking) That was a song that Abba recorded some 20 years ago. And it seems that the subject of money has influenced the song writing imagination over the years. The Beatles recorded several numbers about that sort of thing. I don't care too much for money... can't buy me love...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation yes, 10 seconds Peter, money starting now.

PJ: They always give you the value of the pound several times a day on the radio and television. It's claimed that it's gone up one eighth of a pfennig or something and...


NP: Peter Jones was again speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point and he's now taken the lead once more. Lee Simpson will you take the next round, the subject, downs. Will you tell us something about downs in Just A Minute starting now.

LS: Clarissa rode out from the back garden of the country house. A horse thrust it's way through the Sussex Downs, her favourite place. It symbolised for her the freedom of her spirit, the depth of her feeling for the countryside around her. On the distance, she saw another horseman, he rode near her. The braid on red showed him to be a soldier of some standing before she saw his face, which went it got closer, she saw with lots of sawing...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Shame!

NP: I know.

PM: Repetition of saw.

NP: She was sawing too much.

LS: She was.

NP: So Paul you got in on the subject of downs, 39 seconds, starting now.

PM: I used to live near Epsom Downs. And one summer holiday I decided to big a, dig a tunnel... big a tunnel?


NP: Peter yes? He was going to big a tunnel, instead of dig a tunnel.

PJ: Dig a, yes. Quite, he did, yes.

NP: So Peter you've got in with 25 seconds on downs starting now.

PJ: Well Downes happens to be the age of the newsagent who lived very close to us when I was born in this small town in Wem in Shropshire. And I used to go down to see Downes and buy magazines and newspapers. The Pigeon Fancier was one of my favourite er publications...


NP: Paul...

PJ: ... because I kept pigeons... What?

NP: Paul Merton challenged you Peter.

PM: Well this is deviation. Pigeon fancier! What's going on?

NP: Deviation from what?

PM: From normal sexual practices!

NP: Oh I see! So it was a devious thought Paul but he wasn't deviating from the subject of downs, so he keeps the subject and there are seven seconds left on downs Peter starting now.

PJ: They also sold cigarettes and sometimes I was able to buy one at a time because they were in little packets, Churtons Number One...


NP: So Peter Jones kept going till the whistle went once more. And has increased his lead. Peter will you take the next round, the subject is backhanders. Can you tell us something about those in this game starting now.

PJ: Well I suppose they're the alternative to forehand drives, aren't they. When people sweep the ball back over the net from the, if they're right handed, from the lefthand side. I don't know that there's much left really to say about that! Um...


NP: (laughing) Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of left.

NP: Left!

PJ: Left, yes. Left.

NP: A few other things too but Paul, 44 seconds for backhanders starting now.

PJ: Backhanders is a slang word for bribes. And I'd like to know who I have to pay to get off this show! Because I've been here now since 1988 and I don't know, I don't seem to have really got the grasp of it yet even still. I've not really ever spoken for a minute without being interrupted. I've tried, but I've always ended up hesitating, deviating or repeating myself. And it is an extremely difficult process to go through through the course of a full 60 seconds...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: He isn't really talking about backhanders.

NP: Of course he's not!

PJ: He's whinging!

NP: And he was certainly deviating from backhanders, you're right Peter. So you have the subject back again, 15 seconds, backhanders starting now.

PJ: Yes, bribes. I've understood that there are people who give others money in order to get parts in films and plays and television. And I've never found out who these people are who are receptive to this kind of er you know...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes I'm afraid so, and you've got in again with two seconds to go...

PM: Oh they're going to hate me now!

NP: Backhanders Paul starting now.

PM: I remember...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Hesitation.

NP: Yes! Well done Peter!

PJ: Well I saw his mouth open and no sound came out for at least a split second.

NP: One second, backhanders Peter starting now.

PJ: They're evil!


NP: Paul it's your turn to begin and the subject is animal rescue. Will you tell us something about it, 60 seconds starting now.

PM: I can't bear cruelty to cats! Especially if they're just going around their normal business. They don't know that it's a tool shed, they just want to scratch their claws and keep them pristine. And when some sad individuals get hold of these particular felines and start shooting them in the head with bullets which they've specially bought from the ironmongers, then I think that's very sad indeed. I once rescued a dolphin from the top deck of a double-decker bus, who was hopelessly lost! He thought he was heading towards Piccadilly Circus but I said "no mate, you're on your way to Totteridge and Weststone". He said "look, I don't normally live on land and I am an inhabitant of the city. Can I be blamed for getting on the wrong bus?" I said "don't get shirty with me mate! It's nothing to do with anything I've just said to you! Go and have a word with the conductor." So the dolphin swam down the stairs and he went up to the man who was selling the tickets. He said "here!" He said "I thought you said that this was going to where I wanted to go." And the conductor said "look I don't understand a word you're saying because I don't speak dolphin". Suddenly a porpoise...


NP: Well a moment ago Paul Merton was whinging that he can't keep going, he's never won a round. He kept going without being interrupted, no hesitation, repetition or deviation...

PM: Well I did repeat dolphin, let's face it!

NP: So he not only gets a point for speaking when the whistle went, he gets a bonus point for not being interrupted. And at the end of that round he's still in second place. Wendy would you take the next round, the subject is my com... my complaint. Oh dear, that's why I dried, because I thought they might take about my personal complaint. You take the subject any way you wish Wendy, 60 seconds starting now.

WR: My complaint at the moment is that I have a sore finger because I managed to slam it in the door. I've had five stitches in this digit and it's extremely painful.


WR: Apart... thank you for your sympathetic... (laughs) Anyway apart from that I am usually...

NP: Peter Jones.

PJ: Yes?

WR: I'm just wandering...

PJ: Pardon?

WR: I was so moved by this wave of sympathy...

NP: I know...

WR: ...from the audience...

PJ: It was a wave of apathy!

NP: And you did repeat apart from that, I'm sorry Wendy...

PJ: Apart from that, yes, yes.

NP: Peter you have 39 seconds on my complaint starting now.

PJ: Well my complaint is really that there are too many pootling subjects brought up in this game. Why can't we discuss something really serious and go on for rather longer than a minute? Because that doesn't seem to give one a chance to stretch oneself or... explore the various possibilities...


NP: Lee you challenged.

LS: It was a bit hesitating.

NP: Very hesitant, yes.

PJ: Yes.

NP: Killing the show dead as well! Twenty-eight years Peter, to complain about the subjects now and...

PJ: Well I didn't know!

NP: My complaint is with you Lee, 21 seconds starting now.

LS: My complaint like many people is a bad back. I sought solace for this with an osteopath. This is a gentleman or lady who cracks your bones. This is supposed to make you feel better, it makes me nauseous...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: A good osteopath doesn't crack your bones! She cracks your joints!

NP: That's right...

PJ: Cracks your bones, well...

LS: I wondered why it was so cheap!

NP: I wondered why you were sitting like that as well Lee. Yes! Peter you've got the subject back again, 11 seconds, my complaint starting now.

PJ: Well the worst complaint I had was mumps when I was acting with Nicholas Parsons on tour. And we went to Blackpool and by the time we got to Nottingham my chest had swollen up and it had gone to my...


NP: Peter Jones kept going until the whistle went and that was quite true about the mumps. I've never seen a fellow's jaws look so large. It really was right out here, terrible! I said...

PJ: And that wasn't the only thing!

NP: No! Peter you've increased your lead at the end of that round, speaking as the whistle went. You're now ahead of Paul Merton still and then it's Lee Simpson...

PJ: Can't we stop?

NP: Well it's your turn to begin and keep going for 60 seconds and you'll win in style. And the subject is plumbing, 60 seconds starting now.

PJ: Well I've always thought that plumbing must be rather a lucrative profession. And I sometimes even wish that I'd taken it up. Because I'd probably have made a lot more money from it, if I'd been able to do it properly. Of course, it's quite difficult. You have to learn about taps and pipes and cisterns and ballcocks and that sort of thing. But you don't have to arrive on time, or even for several days after you've been called. And you can have an assistant. We had one, a woman assistant actually...


PJ: I've said that before, yes.

NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of assistant.

NP: Yes assistant, that's right. Plumbing is with you Paul and 30 seconds are left starting now.

PM: I think it was the Romans who are generally acknowledged to be the forefathers of plumbing. They had a system of central heating which I think first came in around about half past four, one Wednesday afternoon when a gentleman suddenly he had an idea. He thought "hello this isn't right. I've got a fire against the wall when I could have pipes going under my floors, carrying hot water to a back boiler in the kitchen." And so, I think his name was Sophocles, he decided that he would publicise...


NP: Well that delightful extravagant surreal story kept Paul going until the whistle went, gained him an extra point for doing so. He's still three points behind our leader Peter Jones. And this definitely is the last round Peter. So Lee Simpson it's your turn to begin, would you take the subject of a classical education. Sixty seconds, Lee starting now.

LS: I've always felt it a great disadvantage not having had a classical education. They taught us practical things like how to join two pieces of wood together. Or how to care for your vole in the winter time. With a classical education, I could have shot for the stars, I could have aimed for the really high jobs like light entertainment at the BBC. I'd eventually have found my way into the Cambridge Footlights with my classical education. Because in a classical education one learns about Greeks and so... er that's it!


LS: Really that's all I know about it!

NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation unfortunately.

NP: Yes there was. A classical education's with you Paul and there are 35 seconds left starting now.

PM: I remember when I first heard the wonderful music of Beethoven. I thought "hello this sounds good". And so I went down to the record library and immersed myself in all the wonderful works of this great German composer has composed. There was his First Symphony, his Second Concerto, his Violin Whatsit for Piano. This was not what one of his most successful works because he didn't really come up with a good enough title for it. And even now pianists and conducters all over the world are very loath to put this into the classical programme because it's got such a strange sounding name. I...


NP: Yes so Paul Merton kept going until the whistle went and once again brought the show to a close in style. And as we've no more time let me tell you that in third place equal were Wendy Richard and Lee Simpson. They were a few points behind Paul Merton and in that last flourish he did well, but didn't quite catch up with Peter Jones. So Peter, one point ahead, you are the winner this week! It only remains for me to say on behalf of our four panelists, Peter Jones, Wendy Richard, Paul Merton and Lee Simpson. And Miriam Jones who's been keeping the score and blowing the whistle. And of course the creator of the game Ian Messiter and of course naturally our producer Sarah Smith. And myself Nicholas Parsons. Thank you for tuning in, we hope you've enjoyed it all and will be there once more when we take to the air and play Just A Minute. Until then from all of us, good-bye.