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 our four exciting personalities who this week are going to play Just A Minute. We have two of our long-standing players of the game, that is Peter Jones and Clement Freud. And we also have two of our more recent regular players of the game, Paul Merton and Kit Hesketh-Harvey. Would you please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Elaine Wigley who is going to keep the score and blow a whistle when 60 seconds are up. And this particular recording of Just A Minute is coming from the new Radio Theatre which is in the bowels of Broadcasting House. I'm going as usual to ask our four players to speak if they can on the subject that I give them. And they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviating from the subject. Let us begin the show this week with Clement Freud and the subject Clement is charisma. Well this show, there's been plenty of charisma shown throughout every series. But talk on it if you can Clement starting now.

CLEMENT FREUD: Charisma is a sort of journeyman halo when it's vested in people who are not saints. PT Barnum was extraordinarily charismatic. He was once told of the man who was fired from the cannon in his circus was dead, and said "that is sad, it will be hard to find a man of the same caliber". Tommy Docherty, the football manager, I think has charisma like few other people. He is the inventor of the phrase "do unto others and run like hell"! Also "a friend in need is a pain in the arse". But Nicholas Parsons, if you look at him carefully, you will notice a sort of void where charisma. All the other elements are there, his blazer, his tie, hair which seems to have gone more profuse over the months...


NP: And Peter Jones has challenged.

PETER JONES: He's not really talking about charisma, he's talking about lack of charisma!

NP: Yes that's a correct challenge Peter but... Unfortunately you've emphasised the fact that he was applying it to me! And so er, but as it's a correct challenge you have a point for that and you take over the subject. But Clement did keep going for 58 seconds which is quite an achievement!


NP: So Peter two seconds on charisma starting now.

PJ: If you haven't got it, you'll never get it!


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Peter Jones so he's naturally in the lead at the end of that round. Paul Merton will you take the next round, what a carry-on. An expression, a phrase or the subject on which we'd like you to talk starting now.

PAUL MERTON: When Uncle George built a spaceship in his back garden, all the neighbours said ":what a carry-on! The man's insane." He attempts to get to the moon in nothing more than a giant milk bottle with a firework shoved in the top. He strapped an armchair to the side of it, he's going to light the blue touchpaper and not retire, but instead shoot up into the stars. So the police were called and they said "it's not a matter for us really. This man is seriously ill in a psychiatric way." They didn't quite phrase it like that, they said "he's barmy, get the doctor!" So the medical man arrived and he examined the er gentleman...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: There seemed to be a hesitation.

NP: There was, there was a definite er. So Clement...

PM: Oh what rubbish!

NP: You did actually say er.

PM: Possibly!

NP: Yes!

PM: But I didn't hesitate when I said it!

NP: No you didn't hesitate when you said it, which is a new subtle way of playing Just A Minute. In other words, you kept speaking but you did say er and as er is not in the Oxford English Dictionary we interpret that as hesitation. Clement challenged, he has a point, he takes the subject, and there are 23 seconds left, what a carry-on Clement starting now.

CF: In the theatre, a walk-on who is unable to perambulate on to the stage and is brought...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Ah well no, I was going to say repetition but it's on and it's what a carry-on so...

NP: What a carry-on, yes, you can repeat...

PM: Yeah absolutely.

NP: So Clement, incorrect challenge, you get a point for that, you keep the subject, 14 seconds, what a carry-on, starting now.

CF: Is known by some members of the audience as a carry-on. But by virtue of the fact that he or she is unable to fly, use a trapeze, or be brought in any other manner or custom towards the scenario...


NP: When the whistle was blown then by Elaine it told us that 60 seconds was up and Clement Freud was still speaking on that occasion so he gained an extra point for doing so and he has now taken the lead. Let us move to Peter Jones to begin. Peter the subject is smut. Little of it in Just A Minute, I'm sure, but that's the subject to talk about or talk on starting now.

PJ: It's a lovely word, isn't it. And it really describes a sort of cleaned up version of filth. And I think it's a poor substitute really! I remember my first encounter with it was a postcard which I saw in a newsagent's window which depicted a vicar addressing his audience at the village concert and he was saying "and Miss Stingo will now sing When I Am In My Little Bed accompanied by the curate". And the curate was in the background...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Sadly repetition of curate.

NP: Yes.

PJ: Oh yes.

NP: You had too many curates in that bed I'm afraid.

PJ: Yes. Well you got the gist of it anyway!

PM: Yes!

NP: You were making it more smutty than it really was!

PJ: I was only nine!

NP: But you still recognised the smut! Paul Merton you have 27 seconds, smut starting now.

PM: The smuttiest thing I've seen in the last 30 years is Nicholas Parsons in the Rocky Horror Show! It is a performance riddled with filth! He walks on to the stage and by his own confession roundly abuses the audience for turning up in the first place. And then performs a rather disgusting exotic cabaret with various selected vegetables. The finale of his act, if you can call it such a thing, is when he inserts a marrow...


NP: That is what we call being saved by the whistle actually! We won't take it any further except to say that Paul Merton was speaking when the whistle went, gained an extra point for doing so, and he's now in second place just behind Clement Freud. And Kit Hesketh-Harvey your turn to begin, spin doctors. Can you talk about them starting now.

KIT HESKETH-HARVEY: Well there are many definitions, perhaps of the term spin doctors. One thinks of the whirling dervishes of the Mohammedans who vowed poverty and chastity, and in that climate simply had to spin to make any fun out of life. There are the NHS junior doctors who were whipped by Mrs Bottomley or her successor into a fantastic towering frenzy of performance. Two hundred and fifty-six hours a week some of them. Able, unable, oh Lord! Heavens!


NP: Clement Freud, yes? I recognised it, I think we all did.

CF: He was spun.

NP: Thirty-four seconds, spin doctors, starting now.

CF: I think the spin doctor that most of us have closest to our hearts is WG Grace who played cricket for 50 years of the 80 that he lived, who captained the Gentlemen of England at Lord's when he was well into past middle age. And who took 2800 first-class wickets, mostly at the cricket ground that Mr Lord had at St John's Wood but also...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Yeah repetition.

NP: No it was too many wickets.

PJ: Oh, too many wickets, was it?

NP: Yes.

PJ: I thought he repeated Lord's.

NP: WG Grace was known for his batting, not for his spin bowling.

PJ: Was he?

NP: Yes.

CF: He took, he took two thousand...

PJ: Well God knows you were there! You should know!

NP: Clement they're with you, you have a um incorrect challenge so you keep, you get a point, you keep the subject, six seconds, spin doctors starting now.

CF: Leg breaks, off cutters, but especially the ball that went with the arm...


NP: Clement Freud speaking as the whistle went has increased his lead at the end of the round. And it is your turn to speak. And the subject you're taking now is bubble and squeak. Can you talk on bubble and squeak, in fact I think you should tell us how we make the best bubble and squeak, 60 seconds starting now.

CF: Bubble and...


NP: Paul Merton.

PM: Hesitation.


NP: Don't encourage him for goodness sake! If we were to challenge as rapidly as that all the time Paul, actually it was only two thirds of a second, so I don't think I can allow it. Clement has another point, bubble and squeak Clement starting now.

CF: Bubble and squeak is a sort of (pauses)...


NP: It's what often happens!

PM: That was longer than two thirds of a second.

NP: It definitely was, but Kit Hesketh-Harvey pressed his buzzer first, I'm afraid. Kit, bubble and squeak with you starting now.

KHH: Of course it's absolutely delicious and terribly unfashionable nowadays because of it's high choleresterol content. But for about two thirds of a century...


NP: Paul Merton, you challenged.

PM: Collaresterol?

NP: It's a slight deviation from the word as we understand it! So Paul you've got in correctly there, 50 seconds on bubble and squeak starting now.

PM: Billy Bubble and Sammy Squeak were one of the most popular double acts in the 1930s. Between them they took over 2800 wickets and that was while they were playing the Chissick Empire! They were a fantastic combination and people used to rush to the theatre every night to see what Bubble and Squeak were up to, in their crazy antics. In many ways they were a kind of version of Kit and the Widow except 50 years before...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Two Kits.

NP: Kit and the Widow, and Kit, you repeated the word.


NP: Well I heard it! Didn't you?

PM: We had wickets before, but not Kit.

KHH: Wic-ket!

NP: You do two Kits, there's one person in the audience who heard it, yes. We have to be very sharp here.

PM: So one person in the audience has heard it out of 400! And we don't know who that person is, they might be mentally unbalanced!

NP: The other 400... the other four, the other 400 you've completely conned over to you with your fans and your followings, you usurped them. But you...

PM: I've never usurped anybody in my life! How dare you!

NP: No you did actually repeat the word Kit. Clement Freud heard it...

PM: You're making it up!

NP: When you listen to this show it's...

PM: I will! Don't worry about that! So will my lawyer!

PJ: Well I certainly didn't hear it, though I'm, I must admit I wasn't listening very hard!

NP: Now this punch-up is a free-for-all if anybody else wants to join in, they... I'm going to stand by what I heard and Clement has a correct challenge, 27 seconds, bubble and squeak starting now.

CF: Bubble and squeak is a mixture of cabbage and potato and the former of these can be Savoy or any other kind. The latter King Edwards, Whites, Marris Piper. It is unimportant. The crucial thing...


NP: Kit Hesketh-Harvey.

KHH: More than two thirds of a second, I'm afraid.

NP: Yes, yes it was, it was a hesitation. Twelve seconds for you Kit on bubble and squeak starting now.

KHH: I once had two hamsters called Bubble and Squeak. They were absolutely enchanting and lived entirely on Marris Piper and Desiree. But... it was...


KHH: Ah! Phwagh! Phwagh!

NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Hesitation.

NP: Yes Peter, bubble and squeak's with you now and you have four seconds starting now.

PJ: I must say I think it's a disgrace that this subject should be given to one of the world famous...


NP: Peter Jones speaking as the whistle went gained that extra point. He's equal in second place with Paul Merton. Clement Freud is still in the lead, Kit Hesketh-Harvey is only one point behind those in second place. Paul your turn to begin, the subject Martians. Will you tell us something about them in Just A Minute starting now.

PM: In 1938 Orson Welles produced a radio adaptation of the HG Wells story The War of the Worlds. And by the simple device of pretending that this dramatisation was in fact a real news programme, he managed to persuade millions of Americans into thinking that the Martians had landed in New Jersey. And there was all kinds of terrible panic going on. Apparently according to the papers the next day, several people attempted to commit suicide and one woman spread herself naked on the hill and said "I'm ready, take me now!" But apparently she did this every Friday...



PM: Don't tell me! Repetition of Kit?

NP: Kit Hesketh-Harvey what was your challenge?

KHH: I'm sorry, there were two apparentlys weren't there? I think there were two.

NP: There were two apparentlys I'm afraid, yes. Twenty-three seconds on Martians with you Kit Hesketh-Harvey starting now.

KHH: Broadly speaking I suppose Martians are people who come from Mars. I think of Marianne Faithfull at times like this and think what a...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Two thinks.

NP: You were thinking too much I'm afraid, which is useful in this game but not to repeat the word. Sixteen seconds Clement, Martians starting now.

CF: It is an alternative plural of the Christian name Marcia, as in Falkender. You could say I was walking down the street with several Martians...


NP: Kit Hesketh-Harvey challenged.

KHH: It would be walking down the sea surely, wouldn't it?

CF: Only if you were at a beach!

KHH: Or a bishop!

NP: It was a good try but I think I'll give the benefit of the doubt to Clement and say that he has five seconds on Martians starting now.

CF: If you come from Mars... you are...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Ah hesitation.

NP: Indeed Peter and you got in again with only one second to go on the subject of Martians starting now.

PJ: If they come here, don't let them in!


NP: So Peter Jones has moved into second place ahead of the other two and Clement Freud's still in the lead. And Peter it's your turn to begin, the subject is revelations. Would you tell us something about that in Just A Minute...

PJ: Well it's, revelations are usually associated with um exposures of some kind. And every hero that we ever had when we were children has been exposed in one way or another. And I'm waiting for Mother Teresa, for instance, to be named as the er lover of some...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation yes.

PJ: Well it was reasonable to hesitate over such a delicate subject!

NP: Especially with Mother Teresa in there.

PJ: Exactly!

NP: So Paul you've got in with 40 seconds on revelations starting now.

PM: I had a most extraordinary revelation the other day when I heard that Peter Jones in the 1940s worked in a Hungarian circus under the name of Betty Allsopp. And he worked as a knife thrower's assistant. Every night as he... oh...


NP: Kit Hesketh-Harvey.

KHH: I'm afraid he hesitated. I was longing to know what was coming next!

NP: I know!

PM: Yes, so was I!

NP: It didn't come out there. Right, 25 seconds revelations from you Kit starting now.

KHH: Of course in theological terminology the revelations are of Saint John the Divine, the last book of the New Testament. He is no relation to Hugh Grant's friend, of course, who works on Sunset Boulevard...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of of course.

NP: What a pity because I think he was getting quite interesting! Fourteen seconds on revelations with you Clement starting now.

CF: Revelations is not only the last book of the Bible, but also the name of a rather good lot of suitcases which...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of also.

NP: Yes it's a tough challenge but it's correct. So seven seconds on revelations with you Paul starting now.

PM: Well my one revelation which I wish to introduce here tonight...


NP: Kit Hesketh-Harvey.

KHH: The subject's revelations rather than revelation.

NP: Yes.

KHH: And as there's only one...


NP: Well it doesn't matter, he hadn't got going. If he's talking about revelations he can start off by saying my one revelation.

PJ: And then two revelation and so on, yes.

PM: To thirty-three and a third revelations a minute!

NP: You know I think he was perfectly correct, you've got to establish what you're going to talk about. And he was talking about his one revelation which is within the subject. Three seconds with you Paul starting now.

PM: Is this. Many years ago I..


NP: So Clement Freud is still in the lead, Paul Merton is now in second place, and Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Peter Jones, only one point separates them all. Kit Hesketh-Harvey it is your turn to begin and the subject is alchemy. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

KHH: It was the Elizabethan sage John Dee who was the aegis of his age. I think he was an astronomer and necromancer. He traveled in the far east and brought back delicate instruments with which he could measure the routes to the far east. And the Virgin Queen for such she was...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Repetition of far east.

NP: Yeah, had too many far easts.

KHH: Oh Lord!

NP: Yes.

KHH: I was getting so keen on the Virgin Queen!

NP: Peter 44 seconds on alchemy starting now.

PJ: Well it was these crazy people who thought they could turn lead into gold and make a great deal of money. And they never succeeded as anybody with any sense would have known they couldn't. And er...


PJ: ...that's about all I know about it really!

NP: And you came to a full stop.

PJ: Yes.

NP: So it's hesitation...

PJ: And they should have done the same!

NP: Kit Hesketh-Harvey, 29 seconds on alchemy starting now.

KHH: It's pointless of the law of supply and demand. If everything is made of gold, then nothing is worth anything really, is it? Or the ionean fallacy. However it became the subject of the play by Ben Johnson at the beginning of the next century in which the aponus...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Ah yes now I think I know what you mean when you said the beginning of the next century, you mean from the passage of the time you'd meant before.

KHH: That was generally what I implied.

PM: Yeah I heard next century so it sounded like this play had yet to be written. But then I realised that you had been talking... are you with me?

NP: I don't think anybody's with you actually!

PM: Repetition!

NP: No! I think you've gone on one of your flights of fantasy in explaining what you...

PM: You can say, you can say that to me wearing that jacket?

NP: No!

PM: It looks like a bar code! There, I saved it for the show!

NP: I know! It got a laugh the first time and a round of applause the second! Kit I disagree with the challenge...

PM: There wasn't a challenge! It was nonsense! We all know that!

NP: So you still have alchemy and you have 17 seconds to continue starting now.

KHH: In which Sir Epicure Mammon, I believe his name is, was duped by an alchemist into believing that he can reach the philosopher's stone. Tribulation...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Did I?

NP: Yes!

CF: Ah it was not a valid challenge.

NP: No!

CF: Shall we put it to the audience?

NP: I know what the result will be that Kit has another point and eight seconds on alchemy starting now.

KHH: In trying to seduce his lovely daughter, Dame Bliant, who was being beaten from pillar to post by these wicked terrible men...


NP: Well that is the first time in this show that anybody's started with the subject and in spite of interruptions still had it when the whistle went. Kit Hesketh-Harvey you had a point for speaking when the whistle went, a number of points in the round, and you are now only one point behind our leader who is still Clement Freud. And Clement it is your turn to begin and the subject is skullduggery. (long pause)


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Um, rigor mortis?

NP: It was probably a bit of rigor mortis on my part because I forgot to say starting now! So I've recovered because I'm just about having a little drink of water to clear my throat. But Clement Freud has skullduggery starting now.

CF: Skullduggery is the past participle of skulldiggery. If you were to go into a country churchyard late one night, with a spade or a shovel, and disturb the earth in order to see what is inside the graves, and you came across the skull of someone, that would be skullduggery. If you did it last week, it would be skulldiggery. I do hope I make myself clear on this. It's also a word given to doing things nastily and in an underhand manner, possibly illegally, or even in such a way as the Justice of the Peace might call the matter to his attention and send you before the courts of law in order to serve some time at the public taxpayer's expense which seems to do very little good to the actual felons who commit such crimes. Skullduggery, you know, it's a word which...



NP: Oh! He was challenged as the whistle went, but we don't allow that because he went so magnificently for 60 seconds. So on that occasion we not only give him a point for speaking as the whistle went. But he gains a bonus point for not being interrupted. Well done Clement and the applause showed how much they appreciated it. And you've increased your lead at the end of the round. And it is Paul Merton's turn to begin, the subject is playing the goat. Sixty seconds star... I don't know why they laugh at you Paul, I don't know what image you've established in this audience's mind. But would you talk on the subject starting now.

PM: First you must tune your goat adequately. You must blow into it's ear and with a bit of luck, a noise will emerge from its mouth. After a little bit of fingering that you have to do down the middle of its back, it's possible to play such marvelous melodies as Lullaby of Broadway, It's A Long Way To Tipperary, and A Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square. The orchestra in Munich which consists entirely of Germans playing goats. They specialise in the works of Beethoven, the Heroica Symphony number 3, for those who are aware of that great master's work, is a particular strong item. And the locals come to hear the billy goats marvelous interpretation of these chromatic scales building up to a crescendo at the end of the third movement where flannels have to become on to the stage to wipe the place down...


NP: A resounding round of applause, well done Paul!

PM: It's a true story!

NP: Yes! Well I mean obviously the audience realised that, that's why they were laughing so much. Peter Jones it's your turn to begin, the subject is liberty. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

PJ: Well it's a very nice shop in Regent Street. And I often enjoy going there. They have excellent sales which go on for about 11 and a half months out of 12. And they don't have very good bargains but they do have interesting material from different parts of the world, particularly in the basement. And I've bought er a few things from there. Two chairs, one or two vases...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of two.

NP: Yes you one or two, one or two.

PJ: Two yes.

NP: Thirty-five seconds are available for you on liberty Paul starting now.

PM: What a wonderful country we live in, we have liberty! You can come to the Radio Theatre and listen to the Just A Minute. You can point at the Prime Minister in the street and shout out "you're useless" and nobody can arrest us for this. It is perfectly normal behaviour in this great British country of ours. I don't know why I particularly call it that but of course it is more or less the United Kingdom...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Ah, repetition of country.

NP: Yes, ah 14 seconds liberty with you Clement starting now.

CF: The Statue of Liberty depicting a woman with a left arm raised and a funny sort of haircut is standing in New York. And should you arrive by boat, maybe the very first thing you see...


NP: So Clement Freud was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He has increased his lead, he's three points ahead of Paul Merton in second place, four ahead of Kit Hesketh-Harvey and five ahead of Peter Jones. And we're moving into the last round, it could, by a flash in the pan, be anybody's. But let's see what happens as we start the next round with Kit Hesketh-Harvey. Expostulate, that is the subject on the card, can you expostulate on that subject starting now.

KHH: It's not a subject one likes to do very much, in front of a paying audience or even a non-paying such...


NP: (laughs) Yes...

KHH: Is non-paying hyphenated? (laughs)

NP: I think we take the word paying, so Paul I agree with the challenge, 54 seconds, expostulate starting now.

PM: My next door neighbour is well-known to the police all over Britain for expostulating late at night about 3.00 in the morning when the rest of us are trying to get to sleep. And there would be this unholy smell coming from the inside of his house, and the sound of goats being tuned up for some God-awful Satanic version of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. It was a nightmare to be living next to this man! So one day I popped round to his abode, I knocked firmly on the door and I said "look, I speak for everybody in this street. We're sick to death of your expostulations which are all over the pavement. And some of them blame the Labradors, but I know it's you!" He stood up to his full height and expostulated right in my face and I was covered from head to foot in this expostulation liquid which was...


NP: Well a fine example of expostulation and kept him going till the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. And in spite of all that energy expended Paul Merton ended up in second place just ahead of Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Peter Jones. But two points ahead of Paul was Clement Freud so we say he is the winner this week. Congratulations! It only remains for me to thank our four talented players of the game which is Clement Freud, Paul Merton, Peter Jones and Kit Hesketh-Harvey. Also Elaine Wigley for keeping the score. And Ian Messiter of course who created the game and thought up the subjects, and our producer Anne Jobson for producing and directing the show. So from all of them and from me, Nicholas Parsons, this is good-bye, hope you enjoyed the show and will be tuned in the next time we take to the air to play Just A Minute.