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 not only to welcome our listeners but welcome the four talented players who this week are going to play this game. And we welcome two seasoned broadcasters of today's comedy generation and that is Paul Merton and Arthur Smith. And two seasoned broadcasters of a previous comedy generation, that is Peter Jones and Clement Freud. Would you please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Elaine Wigley who is going to help me with the score, and she will help me with the stopwatch and also blow a whistle when 60 seconds are up. And as usual I'm going to ask our four intrepid performers to speak if they can on the subject I give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition, or deviating from the subject. And this edition of Just A Minute is coming from the little Library Theatre in the centre of the wonderful cultured city of Manchester. And we are part of a festival here in Manchester called Music Live. And in front of us we have a live animated Mancunian audience. And so let us get on with the show and the first subject very aptly must be of course Manchester. Clement Freud would you like to start the show with that subject, 60 seconds starting now.

CLEMENT FREUD: Manchester is a typically sexist name for a city. But I know that everyone is pleased that New Labour have designated it the capital of Britain to be. In Manchester there are football teams, a greyhound stadium with dogs running from traps one, two, three, four, five and six, wearing jackets which are alternately red, blue, white, black, orange and striped. You get here by train from Euston. And the extraordinary thing about this conveyance is that on the platform you find women who will have Virgin written on their hats with no outward sign of that situation.


CF: There's a song called On The Road To Manchester where the flying fishes firth...


NP: Paul Merton has challenged.

PAUL MERTON: Deviation, it's On The Road To Mandalay is the song.

CF: Different song!

ARTHUR SMITH: I feel that if Clement can sing it, then you can accept it.

PM: Absolutely!


PM: And as we are part of the Music festival bizarrely!

NP: So Clement...

PM: (counting as in introduction to a musical performance) Two, three four!

AS: (sings to the tune of On The Road To Mandalay) On the road to Manchester!

NP: Um Paul you have a correct challenge, therefore you get a point for that, you take over the subject and there are only three seconds left...


NP: ... Manchester starting... Utterly prejudiced already this audience! Three seconds, Manchester starting now.

PM: I remember the song Around Manchester In 80 Days! What a...


NP: Whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gets an extra point in this show. And on this occasion it was Paul Merton who is the only one to have scored any points at the end of the first round. But Paul will you take the second round and the subject is the red devils. Tell us something about the red devils Paul in 60 seconds starting now.

PM: Imagine flying through the air at 25,000 feet with a parachute strapped to your back, taking part in an aeronautical display with that famous team of stunt divers, the Red Devils. I was very pleased to jump with them only last weekend. I didn't realise I was doing it at the time, but I'd got on the wrong flight. I was meant to be arriving in Stockholm and I was rather confused when what I took to be a hostess strapped a knapsack to my back, opened the door and said "you're next!"


NP: Peter you challenged.

PETER JONES: He did say strapped twice.

NP: Yes you did say strapped.

PM: Did I?

NP: You were strapped for for language there. And Peter you have a correct challenge...

PM: Strapped for language?

NP: Yes because you mustn't repeat words and therefore you're strapped for it. It's a sort of London expression, it means that you are losing out on the words...

AS: Nicholas?

NP: What?


NP: What?

AS: Deviation there Nicholas!


NP: Peter you have a correct challenge...

PJ: Good!

NP: And you have a point for that of course and you take over the subject of the red devils, 28 seconds are available starting now.

PJ: I remember when I was a boy, I went to a friend's house. And he had a birthday cake which was covered in white icing. And on top of that was a little red devil. Well there were were several actually, but the main one was in the middle. They were, I don't know why the mother or father had done this cake...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: I think there was a hesitation yes Paul. Another point to you and eight seconds on the red devils starting now.

PM: Of course this is also the nickname of one of the football teams that plays here in Manchester. I don't...



NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Deviation.

NP: Why?

CF: THE football team!


NP: Ingratiating himself with the audience!

PM: No, there must be some Manchester City fans here surely!


PM: Right!

NP: I'll tell you what I'll do Clement. As the audience enjoyed your challenge, I give you a bonus point for the challenge. But as Paul was interrupted he gets a point, he keeps the subject and there are two seconds left Paul starting now.

PM: They play at a ground that's called...



NP: Oh! Arthur Smith, you challenged just before the whistle?

AS: I did challenge with point two, a nanosecond remaining!

NP: That's right.

AS: I was challenging on two grounds. Firstly because I haven't challenged so far. And secondly because Paul was about to get the name wrong of the ground that Manchester United play in!

NP: He was about to get it wrong? So you're not only a clever writer, you're also a psychic?

AS: I am... I've had a few!

NP: Yes! What do you think he was going to say?

AS: I think he was going to say Main Road by mistake.

NP: What were you going to say Paul?

PM: I was going to say Old Trafford.

AS: That's right.

NP: I think he knew so another point to Paul, I'm afraid, that's all. We've finished that round and Paul's in a strong lead. And when we move on to the next round which will be started by Peter Jones. Peter, from the red devils to the blues. Tell us something about them in this game starting now.

PJ: Well the blues to me means that type of music which was invented by the slaves in the southern parts of the United States many years ago. Because they had no other means of expressing themselves, no instruments and everything. And they needed also...


NP: Yes, Arthur, you challenged?

AS: I'm sorry Nicholas, to wake you up.

NP: So Arthur what was your challenge?

PJ: Is it something that you think I was going to say?

AS: No, I was challenging on the grounds that you said that that was their only form of expression. I believe they could have done poetry. Obviously there's some very fine slave work in the art department. There's, you know, I think it's a bit unfair to say the only form of expressing yourself.

NP: Arthur it was a great attempt but I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to Peter, say he has another point, keeps the subject and there are 44 seconds left for blues Peter starting now.

PJ: They were mostly named after streets like Canal and Beale. And then there was the Louis, St Louis, er...


PJ: Blues!

NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of Louis.

NP: Yes, yes, yes, Clement you have 35 seconds starting now.

CF: I was very fond of talking blues. Like..
Down in Harlem at a table for two,
There were four with me, your big feet and you.
That's all!


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

CF: That's all I wanted to say.

PJ: He paused for a long time there.

CF: I stopped.

NP: And we call that hesitation Peter. You're right, you have the subject back, you have 23 seconds on the blues starting now.

PJ: I heard WC Handy, the famous composer of the St Louis Blues playing that...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Another Louis.

NP: Another.

PJ: That was, that was the previous time before I was interrupted.

NP: Oh no. Surely Peter, you've been playing the game for 30 years! You can repeat a word in another round but you can't repeat the word in this round even though you've spoken before and lost the subject.

PJ: Usually it's pretty flexible in that area!

NP: Clement another point to you, 15 seconds, the blues, starting now.

CF: Manchester's other football team, that which is in the...


NP: Arthur Smith challenged.

AS: I would say that he's about to say... (laughs)


AS: I would say he's about to say something rude about Manchester City, therefore I challenge on the grounds of ingratiation and er deviation.

NP: Well it's very nice to hear from you Arthur but I thought that's rubbish! Clement you have another point, and you have the blues still, 12 seconds starting now.

CF: They play at main Road which is adjacent to Old Trafford but quite some distance...


NP: Arthur Smith's challenged.

AS: Deviation, it is not adjacent to it!

NP: So your knowledge of Manchester comes in very handy.

CF: If you come from London, they are adjacent!

NP: But if you're as knowledgeable about Manchester as Arthur Smith is, you know they're not adjacent and Arthur you have a correct challenge, a point, and six seconds available for the blues starting now.

AS: Manchester City are the finest football team in the whole world...


AS: What's more, they can easily...

NP: And Peter Jones has challenged you, I'm sorry, Peter challenged you, why?

PJ: I thought he was going to make a boastful remark!

NP: All right, a point to Peter because we enjoyed the challenge. A point to Arthur because he was interrupted and he has one second to continue Arthur, the blues starting now.

AS: Who has won....


NP: Well at the end of that round Paul Merton is still in the lead, but now chasing him madly and in equal place second are Clement Freud and Peter Jones, and only one point behind them is Arthur Smith. And Arthur the subject is the seven sisters. Tell us something about those, 60 seconds starting now.

AS: What a fantastic set of birds they were! The seven sisters, I met them in a party in Ealing. I was wearing a shamile suit with rubber patches on the arms...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: That's my suit! When are you going to give it back? I lent him that suit about four years ago!

AS: Yeah but I put the rubber patches on!

NP: Right, a point to Paul, we liked the challenge. The subject still with Arthur, another point to him, he was interrupted. Forty-eight seconds are left, the seven sisters Arthur starting now.

AS: I was introduced to the first sister. Her name was Ena De Montford. The second sister, her name was Julia...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of name.

NP: Oh yes, her name, her name, yes. Clement, a point to you, 39 seconds available, the seven sisters starting now.

CF: The third sister was called Isabella, while the fourth and fifth were effectively Agnes and Gladys. You don't get that name a lot now. Once upon a time there was a King with seven daughters. And he decided to let it be known throughout his kingdom that any man who came...


NP: Arthur challenged.


NP: Arthur, your timing's impeccable! Or embarrassing, which ever way you interpret it! What is your...

AS: I'm sorry, it was an unintentional innuendo, which are often the best ones I find! Well I think he was talking rubbish, I don’t think there ever... it's deviation, none of that was true.

NP: But in 30 years you can never be penalised in Just A Minute for talking rubbish! Clement, another point, 16 seconds, the seven sisters starting now.

CF: The Seven Sisters Road in London, goes due east from Camden Town and reaches Holloway and places even further to the Orient. I use it quite...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: That's not on the way to the Orient! It's the opposite, the opposite direction.

NP: Um...

PJ: You have, you have to go through, um, Waterloo, to get to the Orient!

NP: I think your sense of direction, I will support it Peter.

PJ: Thank you very much.

NP: What's that? Yes it was, it was true, I mean, the idea of the Orient. The Orient covers such a vast area it doesn't matter which way you go to get to the Orient. No I think...

CF: There's not a lot of it to the west, you will find!

NP: No, but...

CF: And I'd said east!

NP: No, but as I've been down the Seven Sisters Road on a few occasions you don't actually continue going east, it does deviate...

PJ: Oh they still talk about it Nicholas!

NP: I know! That... I'm going to give Peter the benefit of the doubt.

PJ: Thank you very much.

NP: Seven sisters for you, five seconds are left Peter starting now.

PJ: It's seven blocks of stone in Cornwall in the middle of a field. And it...


NP: They're moving forward. Clement Freud and Peter Jones still equal in second place but now only one point behind our leader Paul Merton. And Arthur Smith is trailing the other, all three of them. And Paul it's your turn to begin, the subject is a good rule of thumb. An interesting expression, can you tell us something about it or talk on it starting now.

PM: In 1887 Tom Thumb was made Emperor of Abyssinia. And he was a benign ruler. And lots of people said "this is a very good rule of Thumb because he's allowing us to do what ever we like. We can go to the shops when ever we want. We can buy ice creams, chocolate, buckets, windolene. There are no restrictions on the things that we can purchase which used to be there many years ago under our previous er dictator who was a..."


NP: Arthur Smith challenged.

AS: Er, there was an er there.

NP: There was an er yes.

AS: I felt.

NP: Yes he was going into his flights of fantasy and it really was such an extravagant...

PM: Flights of fantasy?

NP: Yes!

PM: Every word of that's true!

NP: Arthur, 34 seconds, tell us something about a rule of thumb starting now.

AS: Never trust a blind squirrel in a sack!


AS: My old mother...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: A long pause there!

NP: I know!

AS: Well it was a big laugh! Be fair!

NP: This is one of...

PJ: Not quite as big as the pause!


NP: So Peter I agree with your challenge, you have 27 seconds, you have the subject, a good rule of thumb starting now.

PJ: General Tom Thumb was famous for making the assertion that size doesn't matter.


PJ: Now if we go...


NP: Paul challenged you.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes I'm afraid I agree. Eighteen seconds, a good rule of thumb, back with you Paul starting now.

PM: Don't allow a deaf moose to buy a round of drinks! It will take forever to understand the order! No, no, three baby...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Deviation.

NP: Why?

CF: A moose, they.

NP: I thought the they was applying to some other people, not the moose.

CF: I didn't!

PM: Are there any deaf mooses we can put it to in the audience?

NP: Well it's telling me. I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to Paul. Paul, nine seconds on a good rule of thumb starting now.

PM: I suppose when you're playing Just A Minute, a very good rule of thumb is to make sure that you can speak for nine seconds without deviation, hesitation or...


NP: At the end of that round Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went gained an extra point. And with others he's now gone ahead again, into the lead. Peter Jones your turn to begin and the subject is hard times. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PJ: It's one of the wonderful novels of Charles Dickens that I haven't read. So I can't tell you very much about it really, except that it was, I believe, set in Manchester. And a lot of the people had a very miserable time. Now... (laughs)


NP: Oh, first time on Just A Minute that someone's actually dried themselves up.

PJ: Why, it wasn't funny!

NP: Just for the sake of the listeners, I should explain that Peter suddenly burst into a fit of giggles, he suddenly realised, thought that what he said was extremely funny.

AS: Ah Nicholas...

NP: Yes, you, yes...

AS: Giggles can be heard on the radio!

NP: I know that! But I was trying to paint a picture for all those people who are glued to their television sets, they may be in their cars...

PM: Radio, Nicholas! It's radio!

NP: I know it is! I like to throw these things out occasionally to see if anybody's listening!


NP: Right! Arthur I agree with your challenge of hesitation. Hard times with you, 40 seconds Arthur starting now.

AS: Hard times is the future of Nicholas Parsons' career.


AS: Clearly a man...


NP: Excuse me, there's somebody in the audience who clapped at that! Ah Paul you challenged.

PM: Ah hesitation.

NP: No I don't think he hesitated. One woman's nodding and the rest all shan't...

PM: She's asleep!

NP: Arthur, right, benefit of the doubt...

PM: Well it's deviation, I don't think your future, why, why pick on Nicholas's future?

AS: Oh you've changed your tune now, have you?

PM: Well why say his future is full of hard times? That's been his past, his present. Why pick on the future?

NP: Shows you how, how very fair I am. In spite of what Arthur Smith said, I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him to continue with 33 seconds left, hard times Arthur starting now.

AS: I once bought a newspaper and accidentally dipped it in cement. And that was...


AS: ...a....


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: I think he paused to let the booing subside!


PM: He was riding the boos!

NP: Right Paul, you have the subject, 26 seconds, hard times starting now.

PM: I accidentally dropped The Daily Telegraph into some very hard cement and it came out and I realised that what I had was a very stiff newspaper. I tried opening it and reading it on the Tube but unfortunately the dust fell out from the pages and fell on to this old woman's boots...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Two falls.

NP: Yes. Fell, fell. Twelve seconds are available for Clement Freud on hard times starting now.

CF: Hard times is when nothing goes very well for you. When the audience fails to laugh, and the people sitting either side of you challenge remorselessly without any good reason...


NP: Clement Freud speaking as the whistle went gained that extra point. And with others in the round he's moving forward again, but he's still behind Paul Merton who's out in the lead, just two ahead. Then comes Arthur Smith and then Peter Jones in that order. Clement your turn to begin. The subject, games. Tell us something about games in 60 seconds starting now.

CF: Games is the third person singular to game or gamble. And it makes no particular difference whether you refer to bridge or craps...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: Ah a stop.

NP: Yes he did stop. Forty-six seconds, games with you Paul starting now.

PM: Well of course er Manchester put in a bid for the Olympic...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: He sort of got it very muddled didn't he?

NP: Yes he did. Would you call that hesitation?

PJ: Yes that'd be a good term for it! I think that would be good!

NP: All right then.

PJ: Yes.

NP: I'll let you call it hesitation and say that you have 43 seconds on games Peter starting now.

PJ: I've never been very interested in playing games because I'm not good at them. And I remember when I played rugger at school, I was in the second rank of the scrum and boys in the back...


NP: Arthur Smith challenged.

AS: I think you don't have ranks in rugby, do you?

NP: No but if you...

CF: You did, you did in those days!

PJ: Quite right! Yes!

PM: The officers were at the front!


NP: I imagine... yes?

PJ: I was just...

NP: I was going to say if you don't play the game very often Arthur, I imagine that you would refer to the second row as the second rank. I mean Peter said he's not very good at the game.

PJ: That's right, I did!

NP: Right so Peter you were interrupted and you're in the second rank of the scrum and you have 30 seconds to continue on games starting now.

PJ: And this great bully behind me used to roll little balls of mud and drop them inside my knickers!


PJ: And then he used to hit them... kick it...


NP: I must explain to the listeners that the applause there was for the passion that was showing in Peter's face!

PJ: Yes you touched a nerve there!

NP: It was such that I had to stretch across and actually restrain him from his... so we can hear what Paul Merton's challenge was.

PM: Well little balls of mud dropped down the knickers. I mean, deviation surely. In a rugby match!

NP: No, I think, you know...

PM: You think that's all right then?

NP: This is...

PM: Is this the image you're going to give to India and China?

NP: It's all right to give that image because Peter said he had not played the game very often and didn't enjoy it.

CF: The assailant would have been someone in the third rank, would he?

PJ: Yes that's right, behind!

NP: Right, all right Peter, we're going to let you have the benefit, 27 seconds starting now.

PJ: Good Lord, what a long time!



PJ: Yes...

NP: Arthur you challenged?

AS: I challenged yeah, it was a mercy killing!


NP: Hesitation all right, so there are 17 seconds available for you arthur Smith on games starting now.

AS: As Paul said Manchester United put in a bid... (laughs) for the Games...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Benefit of the doubt? Hesitation?

NP: Yes, no, no benefit on this occasion, definite hesitation Clement. So you now have the games and 10 seconds starting now.

CF: Manchester made a bid for the Olympic Games in the year 2000 and had it been effective, in this very city one would have seen tennis, football...


NP: Right so at the end of that round, Paul Merton's still in a strong lead but only three ahead of Clement Freud and er three or four ahead of Peter Jones. No, no, Arthur Smith's there! Arthur Smith's just one behind Clement Freud. Peter Jones...

AS: No-one cares!

NP: You'd be surprised the letters I get about the score! I've always said many times it's their contribution that matters and not the points they make. And it's actually Paul's turn to begin, Paul Merton, the last round. Oh what a good one to finish on! This could give a bit of fun, couldn't it? Wallies. Will you talk about wallies for 60 seconds if you can Paul starting now.

PM: Well it's an old Cockney term for er um... I've forgotten what it is!


NP: Arthur Smith.

AS: well you know, devia... er...

NP: No it wasn't deviation! It wasn't deviation.

AS: It was just so obvious, you don't need to ask, do you?

NP: Hesitation, right, 58 seconds, wallies with you Arthur starting now.

AS: It was a very fashionable word in the 80s, wallies. it was a word to describe people who were absurd and embarrassing. Possibly wearing sandals with socks at the same time. Another usage of it is as a gherkin that sometimes lurks in the bottom of a jar of pickle. We call it that in parts of Somerset where I come from and frequently like to eat wallies...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: You're not from Somerset!

AS: (laughs) (in country accent) I am! I am!

NP: Well as I don't know where you were born, I must say from the way you speak I thought it would have been London. So... I think Paul, no, we have to go by, it's radio so that's my justification. It is how you sound and you sound as if you don't come from Somerset! So Paul I give you the benefit of the doubt, 34 seconds, wallies starting now.

PM: I remember when I was 14 me and Arthur were walking through Somerset picking the wallies as they grow in...


NP: Arthur challenged.

AS: Ah well he challenged me on the grounds that I'm not from Somerset. He's changed...

PM: I lied!

AS: Eh?

PM: I lied!

AS: Actually I withdraw the challenge.

NP: I thought you were going to say you never walked through Somerset with Paul Merton. But there we are...

AS: No, I did that!

NP: Right, what an image this creates walking over the er, the Yeovil and all those places down there.

PM: Walking through the Yeovil?

NP: Yes!

PM: You've got to scrape it off your shoes!

NP: Paul, 29 seconds, wallies starting now.

PM: I was looking through an old drawer the other day and I found a pair of knickers with loads of mud balls in them. And I said "whose are these?" And somebody said "oh they're Wallys, I wouldn't worry about that. He's been playing rugby, he was in the second rank, you know." And I said "well I thought he walked funny the last time I saw him." And it was an extraordinary...


NP: Arthur Smith challenged.

AS: I think we established that they weren't Wally's underpants. They were Peter's!

NP: No, they could have been Wally's just as well. He could have been in that second rank, a bloke called Wally. I mean you don't know in Just A Minute. You can have a flight of fantasy providing you don't hesitate, deviate or um... what's the other one? Or repeat yourself. And he hadn't done either of those. So Paul please continue starting now.

PM: I went to a fun fair recently where I saw the Wall of Death. And amongst the people who frequent and work at such establishments these things are known as wallies. They have motorcyclists who will get up a certain amount of speed, who'll be able to go...


NP: So Paul Merton talking about wallies till the whistle went gained an extra point and brought the show to a close in fine style. It only remains now for me to give you the final situation amongst these four players and very close it was too. Peter Jones just finished in fourth place ah because he was only a point or tow. Equal in second place was Clement Freud and Arthur Smith. But they were quite a few points behind the man who gained most so we call him the winner this week, Paul Merton! It only remains for me to thank our four fine players of the game, Paul Merton, Arthur Smith, Peter Jones and Clement Freud. I must also thank Elaine Wigley for keeping the score for me and blowing her whistle and also helping with the stopwatch. Ian Messiter we must thank because he thought of the game, Anne Jobson because she produces and directs it so well, and with such skill. And so from all of them, and from me Nicholas Parsons and particularly this audience here at the Library Theatre in Manchester, but particularly all our listeners who have tuned in, be with us the next time we take to the air and play Just A Minute. Until then from all of us here, good-bye!