starring PAUL MERTON, CLEMENT FREUD, PETER JONES and TONY HAWKS, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 25 January 1999)

NOTE: Jane Gibson's first appearance blowing the whistle.

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 the multitude of listeners we have throughout the world, but also the multitalented players of this game who are going to participate this week. We welcome back one of the most delightful and outstanding players who've joined us in recent years, and that is Paul Merton. We also welcome back another young comedian of the same generation who has played it fewer times but with considerable skill and panache, and that is Tony Hawks. We welcome back two of the long-standing players of the game, the delightfully witty Peter Jones, and the wittily urbane Clement Freud. Would you please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Jane Gibson who is going to keep the score, she's going to hold the stopwatch for me, and she will blow a whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the BBC Radio Theatre in the centre of Broadcasting House right in the heart of the great metropolis of London. I'm going to ask our four players of the game to speak if they can on a subject I give them, and they will try and do that as usual without hesitation, repetition or deviating from the subject. And we're going to begin with Tony Hawks, and who better? Tony the subject, the life and soul of the party. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

TONY HAWKS: Last year I went to a great many office Christmas parties. And at every one, I was the life and soul of the party. And I have over 200 photocopies of my naked bottom to prove it! What I like to do is, when I arrive, is head straight for the blue nun, and get stuck in...


NP: Ah right, and Paul Merton, you've challenged.

PAUL MERTON: Deviation.

NP: Why?

PM: Well, head straight for the blue nun and get stuck in?

NP: It's a very devious thought, as well as the fact that... I felt he was referring to the er the drink, the wine by that name. And so, so, I agree it is a devious... Your challenge is justified on one level, but not on the other. So I will give you a point, because in one sense it's correct. But I won't take it away from Tony Hawks, because also it's not completely correct. So Tony you have a point for being interrupted, you carry on with the blue nun, no, with the er...

TH: I didn't know she was here! But if ah...

NP: She'll certainly be unfrocked before the end of this round anyway! There are, 44 seconds are available, the life and soul of the party starting now.

TH: First of all congratulating her on her excellent fancy dress. And then I would hit the dance floor, spiralling my way through the night, under the dizzy lights of the discotheque where this particular party may have been taking place. I went to one which Paul Merton hosted once, in his garden, and...


NP: And Peter Jones has challenged.

PETER JONES: Repetition of party.

NP: Yes we had the party before. So Peter, well listened...

PM: No, the life and soul of the party is the subject. So the party's involved...

NP: Absolutely right! I'm glad you were listening! Very good! Because...

PM: How long has this show been running for?

NP: Thirty-four years! And Paul Merton has just reminded me that you can repeat the subject on the card. And of course if it is a phrase, then of course, you can repeat any of those words on the card. So Tony we're still hearing from you on this first round. There are 28 seconds available, it's still the life and soul of the party starting now.

TH: And at this party held by my honourable friend over there... I can't say his name again because I said it before, and that would be...


NP: Ah Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of said.

NP: You said it before, absolutely! Two saids.

TH: I can't say it again, I said it before.

NP: Right yes.

TH: Oh okay.

NP: Well done. Paul you've at last, and you have the life and soul of the party and you have 19 seconds starting now.

PM: General Pinochet is the life and soul of any party that he goes to, with his famous card tricks, his disappearing doves. And also the uncanny ability to make watches and handkerchiefs, other personal effects disappear from people's pockets and reappear in their other sleeve nearby...


NP: That whistle tells us that 60 seconds are up. And whoever is speaking at that moment gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Paul Merton and at the end of that round he's equal in the lead with Tony Hawks. Ah Peter the subject is a good read. Will you talk on that subject starting now.

PJ: Well a good reed is very necessary if you play the clarinet or even the saxophone. Because if you don't get a good reed, then ah it sounds soggy and ah messy altogether. So try and get one if you are thinking of taking up one of these instruments. I've nothing much else to say about it...


NP: Paul Merton, you've challenged.

PM: Well we've exhausted Peter's interest in the subject!

NP: So we interpret that as hesitation, you have a correct challenge, another point to you Paul, 38 seconds available, a good read starting now.

PM: When I was about seven years old, I used to enjoy reading a great deal. I'd often read a Sherlock Holmes story before I went to sleep at night. One of my favourites was The Speckled er Carbuncle. I can't remember what it's called, I made it up...


NP: And Tony you challenged.

TH: I believe he had a hesitation in there.

NP: I think so yes, he hesitated, stumbled over the words. We call that hesitation and 27 seconds available for you to tell us about a good read starting now.

TH: When I was seven years old, the same age as Paul Merton was reading in those days, I read War And Peace...


NP: And Clement Freud has challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: I just wanted to say hello!

NP: All right Clement, the audience clapped, they enjoyed it. So we give you a bonus point because we enjoyed what you said. But unfortunately the challenge was incorrect so Tony you have another point, incorrect challenge. You keep the subject, 21 seconds available, a good read starting now.

TH: I was a very precocious young man, and was not at all daunted by the prospect of ploughing my way through such a magnificent work by the...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: You were seven, you weren't a young man.

TH: Well I wasn't an old man!

PJ: No, but I mean you're...

NP: You were a child, as opposed to being a young man.

PJ: Yes.

NP: That's the gist of your challenge, is it, Peter?

PJ: That's what I'm quibbling about yes.

TH: Well I think he's right, yes.

NP: Well yes, a slight deviation. Therefore Peter we give you the benefit of the doubt, we give you a point for a correct challenge. Thirteen seconds now, tell us something about a good read starting now.

PJ: Well I used to enjoy Robinson Crusoe as much as anything. Because he was a very lonely figure until he met Friday. And I also was alone in the little world in which I lived...


NP: Peter Jones then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. Oh Paul here's a good one for you, we hope it is anyway. Cockney rhyming slang. Tell us something about it, talk on the subject, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

PM: Well of course, it was invented by Neville Chamberlain to confuse the Germans at the beginning of the Second World war. The Battle of Britain became known as the Shmattle of Shmitten. And D-Day became known as bidet which is something you find in hotels if you go to proper ones which are at the rather higher end of the market. I've never met anybody who's ever spoken in Cockney rhyming slang. Because quite often, take for example, apples and pears meaning stairs is longer than the actual word it's designed to replace. So there's no point. It's like if you suddenly decide that every word like...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of word.

NP: Yes, you had too many words there, I'm afraid Paul. But it was very interesting and very enjoyable...

PM: I was bored rigid!

NP: Twenty-nine seconds Clement for you to tell us something about Cockney rhyming slang starting now.

CF: The difficulty about talking about Cockney rhyming slang, I've said about...


NP: Paul challenged yes.

PM: Three abouts.

NP: Yes.

PM: The two that's in normal speech, and then the about that's in explanation of the two he had done. That's three abouts.

NP: Don't underline it! You've got another point, you've got the subject, and you've got 24 seconds starting now.

PM: Merchant banker is a term which is often thrown at Nicholas Parsons as he walks down the street. I don't know why because he's never actually worked in one of those institutions. So why people should think that he actually had anything to do with any kind of bank system is totally beyond me. Of course there are many others...


NP: Tony Hawks challenged.

TH: Ah repetition of of course.

NP: You did say of course before.

TH: You started your whole preamble.

PM: Did I?

NP: Yes.

PM: It's like a nervous tick, isn't it?

NP: No, no...

TH: I shall be listening out for that!

PM: So will I!

NP: Tony a correct challenge, eight seconds available, Cockney rhyming slang starting now.

TH: (in bad American accent) "Oh I just love your Cockney rhyming slang" (normal voice) is what an American tourist will say in their...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Why is he speaking in a Welsh accent?


PM: True!

NP: No, I think... I think it's cruel actually! Because you do that to me... no, I don't think it was a very good American accent, but it was certainly better, more, it was closer to American than Welsh.

TH: I'm not booked to do impressions, am I?

NP: No, no, it was closer to American than Welsh. So I give you the benefit of the doubt Tony, an incorrect challenge. And you have another point, you have one second on Cockney rhyming slang starting now.

TH: Technically speaking, whenever you go...


NP: So at the end of that round Tony Hawks, speaking then as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now gone back into the lead, just ahead of Paul Merton. And Clement Freud, your turn to begin, the subject celebrity. Tell us something about that subject in this game if you can starting now.

CF: Celebrity is the state of being famous which for a politician, which I once was as a Member of Parliament, is extraordinarily important. People will not vote for you unless there is an element of celebrity about your person. I was extremely fortunate in being called Freud, because in the constituency in which I worked, there was a lot of fraud and much feuding. And people reading the newspapers in Wittlesea, Chatterus, March, Littleport, Ely and many other parts of north-east Cambridgeshire, thought I was doing terrific work because they looked at newspapers and thought they recognised the name of their elected MP...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of MP.

CF: No, Member of Parliament I said.

NP: He said Member of Parliament before. Clement, an incorrect challenge, another point to you. Sixteen seconds available, celebrity starting now.

CF: If you were to look up celebrity in a dictionary or a thesaurus you would probably find the next word is celeria, a vegetable of which I am exceedingly fond. It comes as the root of celery and it can be cooked quite like tubers...


NP: So Clement Freud spoke as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's moved forward, he's now in third place behind Paul Merton and Tony Hawks in that order. And Peter's trailing just behind them. And Tony Hawks, your turn to begin, oh what a wonderful subject for here, right in the heart of Broadcasting House, John Reith. Tell us something about that great and distinguished man starting now.

TH: John Reith was the first director-general of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the B-ditto-C if you like. He, not lot another people know, he acquired that post by answering an advert in the paper, which shows it pays to be ambitious. Personally I am still waiting for my reply to my application for Secretary-General of the Communist party of Belarus! But it's just a question of time before that pops through the letterbox, I'm sure. The John Reith Lectures, or just the Reith ditto ah, I've said ditto...


NP: Clement.

CF: Repetition...

NP: Yes you challenged.

CF: Repetition of ditto.

NP: Right, 26 seconds for you Clement on John Reith starting now.

CF: The other day I went to a florist and I said "I would like you to send a John wreath, because my friend was expired. I would like his name picked out in marigolias..."


NP: Yes Tony, you challenged.

TH: Ah I think mangolias does not exist, does it?

NP: Magnolias, yes but... Thirteen seconds are available for you Tony on, no, John Reith starting now.

TH: I went to school with a young lad called John Reith. He was a magnificent table tennis player and he had a sponge bat. And we were all incredibly jealous of that because he could whack it across the table using all kinds of...


NP: Clement Freud challenged again.

CF: Repetition of table.

NP: Yes, table tennis, table. Well listened Clement, you got in cleverly with two seconds to go, John Reith starting now.

CF: If you come into Broadcasting House, there is...


NP: So Clement got a number of points in that round, including one for speaking as the whistle went. And he has moved forward, he's only one behind our leader now, who is still Tony Hawks. And Peter Jones your turn to begin now. Good! Yes Peter, hobbyhorse. Tell us something about it, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

PJ: Well some people keep horses for various reasons. And a hobby is er, a hobbyhorse at least is er a horse that doesn't do very much except be part of a collection of the collector. And ah other people use it as a euphemism for collecting ah china or matchbox tops or ah Scandinavian toothpicks or whatever it is. And they fill the whole rooms with these items. And terribly boring it is. And they are, I think! Ah what else is it?


NP: Paul Merton has challenged.

PJ: Hobbyhorse, yes.

NP: Hobbyhorse. Paul you challenged.

PM: A very very slight hesitation! Very slight!

NP: A slight hesitation Peter.

PJ: Was there?

NP: Yes there was. You may not have spotted it, but Paul very very quickly picked it up and er I have to give him the benefit of the doubt and say yes, Paul, I will go with that hesitation. And so you have 21 seconds for you to tell us something about hobbyhorse starting now.

PM: I remember the nursery I used to go to in Fulham when I was about five, six, seven years old, that sort of age. And there was a hobbyhorse that I used to get on in the playground during the break. It had a rather blue chipped head and it was a big long stick with a horse’s head at the top of it. And a wheel at the other end. And what you had to do is straddle the piece of wood and run around...


NP: Oh Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went gained that extra point for doing so. He's still in third place, equal in the lead now Clement Freud and Tony Hawks. And Paul your turn to begin, the subject, unwanted presents. Tell us something about those in this game starting now.

PM: I was once given a rhinoceros in a jam-jar. Now that might to you sound "oh that's an interesting present, I wouldn't mind getting the lift off that". But I tell you, it's an absolute nightmare because first of all, the jam... oh!


NP: Tony.

TH: Repetition of jam.

NP: Yes he got himself in a jam there. And 48 seconds are available on unwanted presents Tony, starting now.

TH: I once received some frilly knickers which were actual merchandise from Sheffield United Football Club. And on the front, they had stamped "I've scored at Bramall Lane". And I didn't want these presents, I don't know why. It was only once, there was no need to use the pru... plural there, but I did...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes yes he stumbled as he explained. Thirty-two seconds are still there, unwanted presents is back with you Paul starting there.

PM: Next year after that I got a bison in a biscuit tin. And if you think...


PM: ... that a jam-jar...

NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of jam-jar.

PM: You buzzed before I said it!

CF: You said it!

PM: Well are we allowing psychic challenges? Since when has Mystic Meg been on the show?

NP: Twenty-seven seconds Paul, unwanted presents starting now.

PM: Last Christmas I was sent an... elephant in a biscuit barrel...


NP: Peter challenged.

PJ: Well that was a hesitation.

NP: That was Peter, yes, you needn't sound so aggressive about it.

PJ: I'm aggressive?

NP: You were! Peter you have a correct challenge, you have 23 seconds, unwanted presents starting now.

PJ: Well if you get an unwanted present, send it back! You can usually recognise it because it's dog-eared and shabby, having been passed from one unwanted person to another over the years, seven or eight years is about the maximum any...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Ah repetition of years.

NP: Too many years, I'm sorry Peter, yes. Unwanted presents is with you Clement, and eight seconds available starting now.

CF: If you were to ask me what the most unwanted present...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of zoological gardens!


NP: And you thought that was what he was going to say next?

PM: I could see the words forming on his lips! Not only that, but he was going to say it again five seconds later! Hence my challenge!

NP: So Mystic Merton...

PM: Yeah!

NP: ...gets a bonus point because we enjoyed the challenge. But Clement was interrupted, because it's an incorrect challenge gets a point for being interrupted. Continues with five seconds to go, unwanted presents Clement starting now.

CF: Nicholas Parsons is probably the most unwanted presence on this game...


NP: The laughter you got was muffled by the screams of horror at the suggestion actually Clement. But they did applaud you for speaking as the whistle went, you gained an extra point for that. And you have now moved in to the lead! And it's your turn to begin and the subject is my recipe for success. Tell us something about it, in this game if you can starting now.

CF: I'm not sure I have one recipe for success. I remember that Monica Lewinsky was voted the girl most likely to succeed when she left high school....


CF: And I can give you several ways of producing Kentucky fried buzzard, which might easily be my recipe for success. You take the aforementioned bird and marinate him for 26 hours in a mixture of red wine and olive oil, water, capsicum, peppercorns...


NP: Tony Hawks challenged.

TH: Ah I think that's actually deviation. This is a recipe for this dish and not success.

NP: Well it could be the most successful dish he's ever made, couldn't it?

TH: It also could be a recipe that he can easily recite in one minute!

NP: It's a very difficult decision you gave me, because I don't think he was strictly speaking deviating from the subject on the card. But is er good reasoning in your challenge. I'll tell you what I'll do, a thing I haven't done for a long time. As we've got such an intelligent looking audience here. I'll put it to you for the final decision. If you agree with Tony's challenge you cheer for him. And if not, you boo for Clement Freud. And you all do it together now!

CF: Boo!


NP: Clement they're with you, so you have a point for an incorrect challenge, you have 26 seconds, my recipe for success starting now.

CF: I think President Clinton was not listening carefully to me when I told him the recipe for success. It is to be all the things that the Boy Scouts were, and supposed, had to...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Well it's all gone a bit funny there, hasn't it.

NP: Paul Merton a correct challenge, 12 seconds, my recipe for success starting now.

PM: Well undoubtedly the recipe for success includes the following ingredients, dedication, hard work, luck, the ability to know when you are having a particularly good piece of fortune and be able to capitalise on it that way...


NP: So Paul Merton spoke as the whistle went, got that extra point, he's now equal in second place with Tony Hawks. Clement Freud is still in the lead, and Peter Jones is trailing just a little behind them. And Tony your turn to begin, Tony Hawks, fly on the wall. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

TH: There are many places where I wouldn't wish to be a fly on the wall. The Oval Office at the White House, Nicholas Parsons' bedroom. Or indeed the Swatting Flies On The Wall Club in Bexhill-on-Sea. That would be a particularly hazardous spot to be in residence. I once made a fly-on-the-wall documentary about a fly which was on a wall. But unfortunately it flew out the window and we were left watching, for almost an hour, a blank piece of wall. There was...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: I saw that, and can I say it was a magnificent piece of work!

NP: So Paul, we love what you said. Give him a bonus point, Tony gets a point for being interrupted. Fly on the wall is still with you, Tony, 30 seconds are available starting now.

TH: Flies are funny creatures. I...


NP: Ah Paul...

PM: No, they're not! They are singularly known for their lack of sense of humour! There's nothing funny about flies at all. To tell the British public, there's something funny about flies is gross deviation.

NP: Paul I'm sorry, an incorrect challenge. Tony you've still got the subject, fly on the wall starting now.

TH: This fly on the wall told me a hilarious gag. I was rolling about in my chair...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Flies can't talk!

NP: No I think...

PM: But even if they could, they couldn't tell gags because they have no sense of humour!

PJ: Right!

PM: I said that last time!

NP: Peter it's fly on the wall, there are 18 seconds and you start now.

PJ: There is a fly on the wall of the Oval Office, which is operated from the room which next door. Which has a zipper and they can open it and peek out at what is going on inside. And this is obviously what somebody has done. And er it's not very pleasant I suppose...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Hesitation.

NP: No, I don't think so.

CF: I see! I'm sorry!

NP: No, no, no, no hesitation because Peter you've got another point, incorrect challenge, and you've only got two seconds available for fly on the wall starting now.

PJ: Yes well some of these flies...


NP: Um Clement Freud challenged.

CF: I'd like him to have another point.

NP: Yes! Everything's gratefully received in this game so Peter you've got another point, you've got one second on fly on the wall starting now.

PJ: It all...



NP: No, no, no, Paul you got in.

PM: I would like Peter to have another point as well!

NP: Would you like him to have one as well Tony, before we go any further?


NP: Right! So Peter Jones you've got three or four points and you've got half a second to go on fly on the wall starting now.

PJ: If this fly...


NP: So Peter Jones was then speaking as the whistle went, got an extra point for doing so. And now he's moved forward and he's equal with the other three in second place. and Clement Freud just ahead in the lead. And Peter your turn to begin, the subject, the day I put my foot in it. Off you go Peter, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

PJ: I once knew a door called Theodora who was very charming. And she invited me to join her from a picnic. She lived just outside Guildford, and she knew a field which was unoccupied and was a good venue for such an event. And so we went and she baked a bread and butter pudding, which she knew was one of my favourite dishes, and took it with us. And we spread a rug over the grass, and lay down, and she kid of loosened a bit. And er I said "well what about the actual picnic?" And she said well. the sausage rolls and something else, a variety of er picnic fare which I was never terribly keen on and the wasps were buzzing round. And there was a very evil smelling lunch in the middle of the rug, and I realised fairly early on that we had spread it over a particular turd...


NP: You managed to go for 60 seconds without being interrupted...

PJ: Oh really?

NP: Yes.

PJ: Good Lord!

NP: You haven't done that for quite a while, have you?

PJ: No, no! Not in any capacity!

NP: That was always in my mind! You get a point for speaking when the whistle went and a bonus point for going the full 60 seconds...

PJ: Really?

NP: ...without anybody challenging you.

PJ: Great!

NP: Clement it is the final round, repertoire is the subject and you start now.

CF: For caterers or anybody in the hotel industry, the repertoire refers to the Repertoire Le Cuisine which is a cookery book by Lescoffier, that great French chef who almost gave it all up for a Maggie Cue. In a recipe that he wrote some hundred years ago he suggested that an essence of meat be put into some hollandaise sauce because he was paid money for it. The repertoire is not so much a manual as an explanation in an encyclopaedia which doesn't give recipes but tells you the ingredients...


NP: Tony Hawks challenged.

TH: I thought there was a repetition of recipes.

CF: No.

NP: I think there was.

CF: No.

NP: Why not?

CF: Recipe.

NP: Oh right! Recipes before, plural, single now. Well done Clement, yes. Twenty-one seconds still available, continue on repertoire starting now.

CF: So if you look up in the repertoire fillet of dover sole you would not find anything but the names and the ingredients therein. Bonfum is mushrooms, florentine, spinach, er...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: Hesitation I'm afraid.

NP: Hesitation, he had the audience on the edge of their seats!

PM: They were on the way home!

NP: Watching his verbal dexterity as he found his way around words without repetition. But he did hesitate there and there are four seconds to go for you Paul on repertoire starting now.

PM: Let me make this quite clear! I mean this right from the top! I say what you should do...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Um I thought he... (laughs)... I thought he repeated right, but he didn't at all.

NP: No he didn't.

TH: I thought Paul should have another point in fact!

NP: You're wriggling out of it now Tony.

TH: Right.

NP: It was an incorrect challenge, only half a second left for you Paul Merton starting now.

PM: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck...


NP: So let me give you the final score at the end of that round because as I say the contest is over. And they've all got lots and lots of points. Tony Hawks just finished in fourth place, he was only a couple of points behind Peter Jones, who was one point behind Clement Freud. But just out in the lead, one point ahead of him was Paul Merton so we say Paul you're the winner this week! We do hope you've enjoyed this edition of Just A Minute. It only remains for me to thank our four intrepid players of the game, Paul Merton, Clement Freud, Peter Jones and Tony Hawks. I must thank Jane Gibson for helping me keep the score, for blowing her whistle so delicately and running the stopwatch. We also thank our producer Chris Neill for producing, directing the show. Martha our radio engineer, and also the creator of the programme Ian Messiter who makes sure that we go on keeping in work and enjoy this wonderful game. From them, from me Nicholas Parsons, tune in the next time we play Just A Minute. Until then from all of us here good-bye!