starring PAUL MERTON, CLEMENT FREUD, PETER JONES and GREG PROOPS, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 26 February 1994)

NOTE: Greg Proops's first appearance, Nicholas Parsons's 450th 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's my pleasure to welcome the four diverse personalities who this week are going to play Just A Minute. We welcome back three of our regular players of the game, that is Paul Merton, Peter Jones and Clement Freud. And we welcome someone who's never played the game before, and that is Greg Proops. But would you welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Miriam Jones who's going to keep the score and blow her whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And as usual I will ask them all to speak on the subject that I will give them, and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviating from the subject. And this particular recording of Just A Minute is coming from the Pleasance Theatre on the Fringe during the Edinburgh Festival. And we'll begin the show this week with Paul Merton. Paul would you talk on the subject of Princes Street starting now.

PAUL MERTON: Princes Street is a long thoroughfare which runs through the centre of Edinburgh. It is a...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PETER JONES: Hesitation.

NP: He hesitated, got into Princes Street and he has to stop. Fifty-five seconds are left, you get a point of course Peter, for a correct challenge, you take over the subject of Princes Street starting now.

PJ: I remember so well my first sight of it. When I came here on tour, theatrical ah that is, and stayed with Mrs McNab in 4 Brougham Place. What a wonderful place that was. This er was the first theatrical digs...


NP: Paul Merton has challenged.

PM: Repetition of place.

NP: There was two places, yes.

PJ: Quite.

NP: Yes, I used to stay with Mrs McNab too when I was on tour. Yes, a lovely old lady she was. Forty-one seconds are left, Paul you got a point for a correct challenge, Princes Street starting now.

PM: If you walk down Princes Street even today you can see Mrs McNab busking away, trying to earn enough money to have an operation...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: No you can't, you can't, she's gone to a better place!

NP: Yes! Definitely yes. Thirty-six seconds Peter, correct challenge, Princes Street starting now.

PJ: And whatever operation she had, I don't know anything about. But she did provide the most wonderful coal fires, and an extraordinary lavatory. The chain was, disappeared into the ceiling, er, of the room above. I don't know how it was arranged. But it was such a long way up and you pulled this and waited a long time. And then occasionally a little water came down...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of a long.

NP: A long, yes, it was too long.

PJ: Yes.

NP: Paul Merton, you got in, another point, another correct challenge, 12 seconds, Princes Street starting now.

PM: I've often stood in the centre of Princes Street and looked up at the castle at the top of the hill, and wondered whether the people there looked down on Princes...


NP: Ah Clement Freud challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: Repetition of looked.

NP: Yes there was too much looking. And Clement you got in with four seconds on Princes Street starting now.

CF: I have often looked up Princes Street and occasionally...


NP: Whoever is speaking when the whistle is blown gains an extra point, and on this occasion it was Clement Freud. And um they're all equal actually at this particular moment so we'll carry on with the show. Clement Freud, your turn to begin and the subject...

PM: How, how can Greg be equal with anybody?

NP: I know! I'll say that again...

PM: I mean if there's a rule that you get points for not saying anything, then... it's going to be an odd kind of show!

NP: No...

GREG PROOPS: Then I think I'm going to win!

NP: We, we, we've got the score right now. Clement has got an extra one for speaking as the whistle went. He and Peter Jones and Paul Merton are equal in the lead and Greg Proops is yet to score. Clement it's your turn to begin, the subject is my worst joke. Sixty seconds to tell us something about it starting now.

CF: My worst joke is about an Englishman, a Scotsman, an Irishman and a Welshman who met up with a Fin, a Dane, several other Scandinavians, a Bulgarian, a Romanian and somebody who came from Czechoslovakia. They went tio a restaurant in order to have breakfast and the waiter said "what sort of cereals would you like?" "Have you got all-bran, frosties, shredded wheat, mueslis or would you prefer porridge?" said the man in the white coat, to which nobody actually had an answer, with the exception of the goat who mentioned that the higher the fewer would be preferable to sitting in Westminster Abbey ona Tuesday afternoon...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: This is just rubbish!

NP: It is not the first time that rubbish has...

CF: Do you mean...

NP: ...been spoken on Just A Minute!

CF: You mean that it's not a very good joke?

PM: I er, I have heard worse!

NP: You have heard worse? Well I'm afraid that I couldn't agree on that, I haven't heard worse. So Clement gets another point, 13 seconds, my worst joke starting now.

CF: Who was that lady I saw with you last night? That was not a female, it happened to be a relative of mine...


NP: Ah Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Well he's doing another joke now, they can't both be his worst joke!

NP: That is a correct challenge, Paul, deviation. A point to you, five seconds, my worst joke starting now.

PM: There's two flies playing...


NP: Ah Greg Proops you challenged.

GP: I just happen to know that's not Paul's worst joke. I've seen, I've seen his act and that doesn't even come close!

NP: Right, yes, so we enjoyed the challenge Greg. So what I'm going to do is give you a bonus point because the audience loved that challenge...

GP: Thanks Nick!

NP: Yes yes! And but Paul was interrupted so he gets a point for that and three seconds on my worst joke Paul starting now.

PM: And one fly says to the other...


NP: Ah Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Repetition of fly.

NP: Yes you mentioned the fly...

PM: I said two flies.

NP: Oh you're right. You did say two flies and this is one fly.

PJ: Oh I see.

NP: Yes and you can...


NP: But that's how you play the game! So Paul you've still got one second to make some more points, my worst joke, starting now.

PM: And looking downwards...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, gained the extra point for doing so. He's now taken a strong lead at the end of that round. Peter Jones will you take the next round, the subject, getting the bird, 60 seconds starting now.

PJ: Well here in Scotland, a great many people go to a lot of trouble and expense to get the bird on the moors when they start shooting. These ludicrous people dressed in heather-woven suits and things, with a lot of beaters..


NP: Greg did you challenge?

GP: No, but I will if you like!

NP: Yes right.

GP: I'm just kind of bored right now!

PJ: Well I'm sorry it happened to be I was speaking.

GP: No, that's exactly why though!

NP: So what was it? Deviation on heather-woven suits?

GP: Yes! That's what it was Nick!

NP: Yes!

GP: Very perceptive of you, by the way!

NP: I know! I thought it was your quick perception that I was really impressed with. Yes I think that's deviation, a heather-woven suit. Forty-six seconds Greg for you to tell us something about...

PJ: Haven't you ever heard of a heather mixture?


PJ: Yes.

GP: I'm sorry, I withdraw the, the...

NP: No, no, that is, that is the appearance, the heather mixture. It's not the weaving. So Greg...

PJ: Of course it's the weaving! That's what makes it a mixture.

NP: It's not the material. Greg you have a correct challenge, 46 seconds, getting the bird starting now.

GP: A bird that people often want to receive is a little-known bird of the Highlands called the heather bird. It's not exactly the weave of the bird's feathers, it's just the look of them and their luminosity as they wing their way across the lochs and aieries of this festive land. Each heather bird...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes I think there was hesitation. You were going so well...

GP: I'm sorry, there was a dramatic pause. Maybe you... Paulo, if you'd been trained as an actor, as I have...

PM: Yes!

NP: Yes, you would know how to milk an audience like he was milking them just then! So it was a definite hesitation Greg, so Paul's got in, 30 seconds on getting the bird starting now.

PM: This is a phrase which often refers to somebody who's been on stage who hasn't gone down very well with the audience and they get the bird. It's a kind of noise like a sort of woooooooooo... sound...


NP: And Greg challenged.

GP: I love his eyes! I could swim in your eyes!

PM: Could you really?

NP: What's that got to do with Just A Minute?

GP: I'm sorry, I was deviating!

NP: Yes I know you were! He gets a point for being interrupted, 18 seconds Paul on getting the bird starting now.

PM: Every Christmas my mother would promise to make us a turkey. She wouldn't make it, I mean, it was created by God...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of make.

NP: Yes, 14 seconds Clement, getting the bird starting now.

CF: The French call it resaivrious do wuzue and it's one of the few six letter words that includes every single vowel in the alphabet. O-I-E-A-U, not necessarily in the correct order, but there they are...


NP: Clement Freud was then speaking as the whistle went, gained the extra point for doing so. He's er in second place behind Paul Merton our leader. Greg Proops will you take the next round, the subject gizmos.

GP: (laughs)

NP: Can you tell us something about that in this game starting now.

GP: One of the most popular gizmos that's virtually unheard of in the United Kingdom is a gizmo that Nicholas Parsons often uses. It's called the defashionising machine. He puts his suits through it each morning so that all scintillas of taste and decorum are removed, and you're left with what a circus clown would wear. Interestingly enough Nicholas is not the first to use the...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Two Nicholases.

NP: Yes you repeated Nicholas.

GP: Oh I was referring to another Nick, you don't know him, he lives in my neighbourhood. Sorry, go ahead.

NP: Mind you I didn't mind you repeating that. But I'm afraid within the rules of the game it was repetition so Clement, 36 seconds to tell us something about gizmos starting now.

CF: Gizmos is very nearly an anagram of moggies which are cats and other nasty obscene animals which litter the streets of Edinburgh, especially Princes...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation? He came to a full stop. Yes, 23 seconds, gizmos with you Paul starting now.

PM: I used to buy Superman comics when I was younger. And the back pages of this particular publication were filled with adverts for all kinds of weird and wonderful inventions. Xray specs was something that I always wanted...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Two somethings.

NP: Yes, 11 seconds Clement, gizmos starting now.

CF: One of my favourite gizmoes appears every other week at the Leicester Square Theatre. And I very seldom miss these great appearances...


NP: Clement Freud got the extra point, he's now one point behind Paul Merton who is our leader. And Greg Proops and Peter Jones are trailing a little equal in third place. Paul Merton, your turn to begin, the subject, a doddle.

PM: I was walking down the street the other day and a man said to me "could you possibly put this piece of litter into the bin?" I said "of course, it would be a doddle". And when I performed this particular task, he decided to give me an awful amount of money." He, I was given 5000 pounds by this very gentleman, simply because I had placed this piece of rubbish in the afore-mentioned receptacle. Oh...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: That was shot through with repetition!

PM: (laughs)

NP: It was? Well give me one repetition.

PJ: Um...

GP: Rubbish!

PJ: I can't remember. But I mean there were an awful lot of repetitions. Putting it in the...

NP: Unless...

PJ: ...litter and piece...

NP: Unless you can give me one...

PJ: Piece! Piece!

NP: Ah all right, piece, he did mention the word piece twice. Right, 39 seconds for you Peter on a doddle starting now.

PJ: Yes, it's something to do with smoking a pipe I think. There's a lot of doddle in the bottom of it with er fairly unpleasant stuff I believe. People, you see them spitting it out on to the street, if they're er puffing away at one of these briar things that they have in their mouth with tobacco, a lot of it. And they er soil the pavement and the gutter and altogether it's a very unpleasant thing to do. And I advise you to get rid of it if you've got any in the er base of your er puffing instrument. (coughs)


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation? I think so, yes.

PJ: It seemed a rather long time to me, I don't know how it felt to you!

NP: I think for the sake of our listeners I should explain. I think they were being a little unkind and letting Peter stagger on. They knew he'd hesitated a long time previously. But Paul couldn't cope with it any more...

PJ: Oh he was just being sadistic?

NP: Yes Paul got in with five seconds to go on the subject of a doddle starting now.

PM: I was sitting in my living room one afternoon when I suddenly looked down at the...


NP: Ah Greg Proops yes?

GP: This has nothing to do with the beginning of the story in which he was discussing a woman who gave him a large amount of money to put something in the rubbish bin.

NP: That's true, that's perfectly true, but he can still do that in Just A Minute.

GP: Sorry! I could still swim in your eyes!

NP: I know, you're playing to them magnificently. Greg an incorrect challenge and you've er, Paul's got another point and he's only got half a second on a doddle starting now.

PM: Mount Everest...


NP: So at the end of that round Paul Merton has increased his lead. And Peter your turn to begin, the subject is how to make a million. Can you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PJ: Well you don't say a million what. I don't know what you're referring to really. It could be a million enemies. You could make a million enemies by appearing on television and saying...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of enemies.

NP: Too many enemies, Peter I'm afraid.

PJ: Oh yes.

NP: Yes, so Paul you got in, 52 seconds on how to make a million starting now.

PM: It's quite clear that I have no idea how to make a million. Otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here next to Nicholas Parsons, playing Just A Minute. Because I would be out somewhere, possibly cruising around the Caribbean in a luxury yacht, waving to natives as they pass by. Hello, there's Mrs McNab. Over there is somebody else. And I would...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Two theres.

NP: Over there and there somebody else, yes. Yeah.


PM: (laughs)

GP: Man he is strict!

NP: I've never, we've never had such a prejudiced audience in my life! They've all taken sides, they know who they want to win! Right! Thirty-two seconds Clement, how to make a million starting now.

CF: On a financial basis the very best way to make a million would be to go to a South American country where one pound is probably worth 45 million whatever the denomination is. Italy I would like to recommend where 2400 lira or thereabouts is equal to one sterling unit...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of equal.

NP: Yes you had equal before. Yes.


NP: Twelve seconds for you Paul, another point to you, how to make a million starting now.

PM: It is often said that the best way to make a million is to start with a million. Millionaires have no trouble acquiring more of the same. If you were starting at the lower rung of the ladder, it's very difficult to see how you...


NP: So Paul Merton was again speaking as the whistle went and he has again increased his lead at the end of that round. Greg Proops your turn to begin, the subject, jeans. Sixty seconds starting now.

GP: Jeans were invented in California during the gold rush by one Mr Levi Strauss, who put steel rivets on the front of the crotch, if you will. The miners found however when they stood next to the fire to warm themselves at night that the bolts that had been put on the fronts of their jeans heated up to extreme temperatures and they were forced to leap back from the fire, ripping down their pants and disclosing their undershorts to the other miners. This led to many campfire romances in the old west which of course led to the overpopulation of California which we have today. Now I...


GP: ...said California at least 15 times!

NP: Yes! And Paul Merton was the first to challenge.

PM: Repetition, California 12 times.

NP: Yes. Twenty-five seconds Paul, jeans starting now.

PM: They are a very popular trouser for people to wear. I suppose because they're hard wearing. The word denim I believe comes from a French town called Deneeme where this material was first invented. Levi Strauss was a man who used to stay with Mrs McNab in Princes Street. And he would watch her every night and he'd get the idea for himself to build himself a new...


PM: Himself.

NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Two himselfs.

NP: Himself, yes. Clement you got in with two seconds to go on jeans starting now.

CF: Jeans is the plural of jean which...


NP: Clement Freud was then speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point for doing so. But he's still in second place behind Paul Merton, our leader. And Paul it's your turn to begin, the subject fair. Will you talk on that subject in this game starting now.

PM: Well how I love fun fairs. I walk around and soak up the atmosphere. Candy floss, merry-go-rounds, ghost trains, big dippers, toffee apples, sawdust, clowns, acrobats, merry children running around with excited smiles on their faces. Mummy can I have a go on this, I don't know what...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: That sawdust in the middle of that, I don't know what would be fascinating about sawdust. Didn't seem to fit in quite to me.

NP: I think it's a, it's a thing I associate immediately with fun fairs Peter. I'm sure the audience agree. Do you agree?


NP: I always bow to their superior judgement and wisdom.

GP: I have to say that was a wicked weak challenge Peter.

PJ: You don't have to say that at all!

GP: I'm just recognising the fact that...

PJ: This is your first and very likely last appearance in this game! And we can do without that kind of extraneous comment!

NP: So you er get another point there...

GP: Sorry Pete!

NP: Forty seconds with you Paul on fair starting now.

PM: I've always fancied having blonde hair. So I went down to the chemist last week and bought a bottle of peroxide. That's why you see me now, sitting here as the living image of Marilyn Monroe. I get stopped in the street by people who say "but you're gorgeous, what's the difference?" And I say "look, it's my hair, it's now..."


NP: Clement Freud has challenged.

CF: Two hairs.

NP: Yes you talked about your hair.

PM: Well I thought I'd have it all done.

NP: And I must explain to our listeners he hasn't dyed his hair, it's not all peroxide. It's his natural colour as far as we know. Um 21 seconds for you...

PM: Is grey your natural colour presumably?

NP: No, I've dyed it that colour. Yes! Make myself look older and more mature so I can be in this position and you can take the mickey out of me. Um...

PM: Well a lot of people wouldn't have made the effort but thank you!

GP: (laughs)

NP: So 21 seconds for you Clement, the subject is fair starting now.

CF: If someone was to say that Nicholas Parsons is fair, they would possibly be talking about his complexion, or maybe the colour of his teeth. But he is totally bent! Not only possibly the worst chairman that any panel game has...


NP: Greg Proops you challenged.

GP: I believe I heard two possiblys.

NP: And absolute rubbish as well!

PM: No no, I think everybody's in agreement with the actual...

NP: So my job's on the line is it Clement? Right..

PM: No no, it's not on the line, it's er, you've been sacked!

NP: By the team? Greg yes you were correct, repetition...

GP: Oh I was?

NP: Yes.

GP: I'd like my point now.

NP: You've got your point...

GP: Cheers!

NP: And you've got four seconds to go on the subject of fair starting now.

GP: Fairs are often wonderful and magical places for children of...


NP: So Greg Proops was then speaking as the whistle went and he gained an extra point for doing so. And he's moved forward but he's still in third place. Peter Jones is trailing a little, Clement Freud's in second and Paul Merton is still our leader. Clement will you take the next round, the subject press. Will you tell us something about that in this game starting now.

CF: Press is what you do to your jeans if they are baggy or had anything other than sharp razor-edge creases which I don't believe trousers normally do and look I think to me particularly unimpressive when so tailored. I once lived...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes ineed yes.

CF: Somebody just laid an egg in the front row!

NP: Thirty-nine seconds on press Paul starting now.

PM: I should think in about half an hour's time, this building will be surrounded by the press. Because a lady in the front row has laid an egg. This will surely make the front page of every single newspaper in Great Britain. The Sun, The Mirror, The Telegraph, Guardian, Times will all rush to this very venue, eager to get a photograph of the first...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Not all of them, the feathered world will try and keep it a secret!

NP: Peter we like the challenge and we haven't heard from you in ages. Twenty seconds on press starting now.

PJ: The press, what an interesting subject! (starts to laugh)


PJ: How do they, how do they think...

NP: Wait a minute, you were challenged.

PJ: Oh was I?

NP: Yes.

PM: Ah hesitation.

NP: No I disagree. Peter...


NP: Seventeen seconds on the press starting now.

PJ: Press is the word you see on a bellpush and the instruction is to press on it, you see. And it's about the only electronic device that rarely fails. Even these buzzers that we have in our hands, they don't have that magic word on them but they have been known...


NP: So Peter Jones kept going until the whistle went, gained an extra point for doing so. And he's still in fourth place. Greg Proops it's your turn to begin, the subject is what I read, 60 seconds starting now.

GP: My main subject and interest is baseball, the history of which I am very interested in. 1903, the first World Series, the Boston Americans played the Pittsburgh Nationals. They won, five games to three. 1904, no show was played. 1905, the New York Giants played the Philadelphia...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Three played.

NP: Yes and 19 as well!


NP: Paul a correct challenge, 37 seconds, what I read starting now.

PM: I read all about baseball all the time. (laughs)


NP: Right Greg, you've got in there yes.

GP: I think it's obvious.

NP: Yes all right, 34 seconds Greg, what I read starting now.

GP: Paul's comprehensive knowledge of the game of baseball...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of baseball.

NP: You mentioned baseball before.

GP: Oh I see.

NP: Yes.

GP: I thought I had a fresh new start.

NP: No, no, no, you can say what you like of what you've said in this round in another round, but you can't repeat it in this round.

GP: I'm utterly confused by that explanation, thank you. I defer to Mr Freud.

NP: Yes, Mr Freud has it, 30 seconds Clement, what I read starting now.

CF: What I read is predominantly books, magazines, papers and periodicals. But every now and again I come across original manuscripts which I read from left to right unless they are in Sanskrit when the process is reversed. Words, syllables, letters are often interspersed by pictures which I take in my sight normally even if the pages are not turned by my butler who is employed...


NP: So at the end of that round Clement Freud was then speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point. He's still in second place. We have time for one more round. Clement Freud it's your turn to begin, it could be anybody's contest still, except for Peter Jones and Greg Proops but... Clement the subject is painting a master. Will you tell us something about that in this game starting now.

CF: Painting a master used to be punished by four hours' detention in the school to which I went. One got this master, undressed him, and slapped red, blue, green, yellow and red colouring all over...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of red.

NP: Yes Paul, you got in with 45 seconds to go on this subject, painting a master starting now.

PM: I believe that Vincent Van Gogh sold very few paintings during his lifetime. But the pictures that have survived him are now sold for millions of pounds...


NP: Greg um Proops challenged.

GP: Sold twice.

NP: Yes he didn't sell many, he only sold twice. Right, 35 seconds, painting a master starting now.

GP: In baseball where one throws a pitch over the outside of the plate it's called painting! One of the masters of this trade was Steve Carleton also known as Lefty, who threw this spheroid horse hide thing through the air across the dish, whiffing many batters. This makes no sense to many people in England, much like wearing a white V-neck jumper during a cricket game makes no sense to me whatsoever..


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of sense.

NP: Yeah you had too much sense in there I'm afraid.

GP: Call me Jane Austen! And then ask me dancing!

NP: Right!

GP: If you will!

NP: Yes you were applauding his erudition obviously. Twelve seconds for you...

GP: (laughs) Someone has to!

NP: But painting a master's the subject, there are 12 seconds left with you Paul starting now.

PM: William Turner specialised in painting seascapes. He would get a ship, some water, a bit of paint, and would look up at it and think "yes I think that's going to be two by..."


NP: Well at the end of the show I just have to say that Peter Jones and Greg Proops who were, didn't get many points but they gave incredible contributions. Clement Freud gave his equally good contribution, gained a number of points but the winner of this week's show, that was Paul Merton. It only remains for me to thank our four talented players of the game, I also must thank Miriam Jones who's kept the score. Also the creator of the game of course, Ian Messiter, who keeps us in work. And our producer Sarah Smith. And from me Nicholas Parsons, and all of them, good-bye until we play once more Just A Minute. Bye-bye!