starring PETER JONES, JENNY ECLAIR, TIM RICE and STEVE FROST, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 1 February 1999)

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 real pleasure to welcome not only our many listeners throughout the world, but also the four talented, diverse performers from different areas of show business who this week are going to partake and compete in Just A Minute. We welcome the actor, playwright, wit, Peter Jones. The lyricist, writer, cricket buff, Tim Rice. Comedienne and actress Jenny Eclair. And that comedian, presenter and stand-up Stephen Frost. Would you please welcome all four of them! And as usual I'm going to ask all four of them to speak, not at the same time we hope, on the subject I give them, and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And they are able to score points or lose them accordingly. Beside me sits Elaine Wigley who's going to help me keep the score, she holds the stopwatch, and she also blows the whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the Corn Exchange in Brighton, but I can assure you that no corn will be exchanged between our four competitors tonight! And in front of us we have a highly sophisticated cosmopolitan Brighton audience because we are in Brighton! And we begin the show this week with Tim Rice. Tim, down by the seaside here, what about the subject if taking the sea air. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

TIM RICE: Some take the A air, some take the B air. I take the C air. And it's wonderful for me to return to Brighton where nearby I was educated, back in 1958, through 59, 60 and the following two years. It was a moving time for me. I used to stroll along the front at this beautiful beautiful town...


JENNY ECLAIR: He said beautiful twice!

NP: Yes!

JE: He did!

NP: Yes I heard him Jenny! It's all right! He did repeat beautiful, you have a point for a correct challenge, you take over the subject and there are 36 seconds available starting now.

JE: Personally I don't think that taking the sea air is all that healthy, particularly if you're walking along one of those filthy polluted beaches, not like Brighton! The last time I walked along a beach, I tripped over a dead jellyfish...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PETER JONES: Ah beach!

NP: You repeated beach.

JE: But I was talking about the beach.

NP: I know, but you're not allowed to repeat anything except the subject on the card in front of me, unfortunately Jenny.

JE: I've given it away Peter.

NP: So I'm afraid you have lost the subject and Peter's got a point for a correct challenge. He takes over taking the sea air, 24 seconds available starting now.

PJ: Well I agree with Jenny. I don't like all that smell of fish and rotting seaweed and things like that. I much prefer the country air which is purer and a lot of trees, grass and things, purifying it all the time and making you feel a lot better. But...


NP: Tim Rice has challenged you. Tim, yes?

TR: Blatant deviation, he's talking about country air, not sea air.

NP: Well I think he was comparing it to the sea air. And I think he was making the comparison, and therefore I don't think he was truly deviating like that.

TR: He had 24 seconds to make the comparison and he spent 22 of them going on about the country...

NP: No he actually went for 18 seconds if you want to be accurate about it.

TR: It seemed like 24!

NP: I think I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say no Peter, you were not deviating so you keep the subject...

PJ: May I say that's a very er intelligent decision.

NP: Taking the sea air Peter, still seven seconds available with another point to you starting now.

PJ: Of course there isn't much sand here, it's the pebbles and grit and stuff that I don't like either very much, if you have to walk on it...


NP: Whoever is speaking when the whistle is blown gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Peter Jones. You don't need me to tell you that he is in a commanding lead at the end of that round. Jenny Eclair, will you take the next round, the subject, fancy dress. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

JE: It is a terrible thing, but for some reason women of a certain age will insist on going to fancy dress parties in the guise of St Trinian-esque schoolgirls! In tiny miniskirts and stockings. They think it looks sexy and cute, but actually they look like raddled old whores! And I have promised myself that I will never do it again! (pauses) Some...


JE: I was just getting my breath!

NP: I know but you took too long to take it! Tim I'm afraid got in first with hesitation. Tim you have a correct challenge, another point, 34 seconds, fancy dress starting now.

TR: I'm a bit more worried about the blokes who go to balls dressed up as St Trinians schoolgirls. It reminds me of a limerick, this subject.
There was a young fellow called Paul
Who went to a fancy dress ...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: I'm so sorry, Sir Tim!

TR: Party!

NP: You challenged before he said anything Jenny. So what's your challenge?

JE: Well I thought he was going to say ball again.

NP: I know but you got in too quickly.

JE: But it was part of the limerick joke. If I'd got any points, you could knock one off, but I haven't got any.

NP: No. So Tim gets an extra point because he didn't actually repeat the word. I don't know how he's going to continue from this point, but there are 23 seconds available Tim, starting now.

TR: There was an old chap from Australia
Who went to a dance as a dahlia
He thought he would risk it
I've forgotten the following line, but...
A dog ate him up in the hall.


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Hesitation.

NP: Yes he waited for the laugh and it didn't come! That's right! So Peter you've got fancy dress and 11 seconds available starting now.

PJ: Well everybody seems to wear fancy dress in Regent Street, Oxford Street and other parts of London...


NP: Oh dear!


PJ: Oh dear!

NP: I know! I think you've won the audience over already, the sigh of disappointment when you lost it with your...

PJ: Yes...

NP: ...double street there. Um so Tim you got it back again with six seconds, fancy dress starting now.

TR: Old Kent Road, Park Lane, Mayfair. These are just some of the places...


NP: Oh someone's buzzer hasn't come on. That must be Stephen Frost.

STEVE FROST: Well de, deviation, he's just reading the Monopoly board. We're talking about fancy dress here and if we've only got a few seconds...

NP: I think, no, I think Stephen, it's lovely to hear from you, by the way. So Stephen you've got a correct challenge and you've only got two seconds starting now.

SF: Fancy dress is the best thing...


NP: So Stephen Frost was then speaking when the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so and he's now equal in second place with Tim Rice. And Peter your turn to begin and the subject is the gentleman thief. Tell us something about him in this game starting now.

PJ: Well it goes back a long way like Robin Hood, I suppose could be classified as a gentleman thief. And Raffles, this one a fictional character created by Hoffnung or Hornung, I can't remember which. And er Robert Maxwell was not a gentleman thief. He was just a thief!



NP: Tim you challenged.

TR: Well it was rather unsporting but I'm afraid it was a deviation because...

NP: Why?

TR: Well he was talking about somebody who was not a gentleman thief as he admitted.

NP: Yeah he wasn't deviating from the subject of gentleman thief.

TR: Well I say that to talk about a thief who was specifically not a gentleman is deviating. But...

NP: Oh I see the subtlety of your challenge.

TR: Yes but...

NP: I'll tell you what we'll do. Because it's a very clever challenge, I'll give you a bonus point...

TR: Thank you.

NP: ...for the, the er thought behind your challenge. But I think we should leave the subject with Peter and it is still a gentleman thief, Peter, 38 seconds starting now.

PJ: The idea of a gentleman thief is to rob from the rich and give to the poor ah which I am always hoping to do myself, if I can ever acquire enough wealth...


NP: Jenny challenged.

PJ: What?

JE: He said I twice.

NP: I know he did.

JE: I hope I.

NP: Yes.

JE: I might have been a little bit petty.

NP: Oooh!


JE: They've turned!

NP: I know, they've turned, yes! But Jenny I have to be fair within the rules of Just A Minute and it was a correct challenge you gave us. And so you have the subject and a point of course for a correct challenge, 27 seconds to tell us something about the gentleman thief.

JE: The trouble today with thieves is they have no finesse. In the olden days, they'd creep into your house, take off their shoes so as not to muddy your carpet, and leave something enigmatic like a playing card on your mantelpiece. No pooing in the wardrobe for Raffles, oh no!



NP: Jenny as you haven't played this game very much, I'm going to say if you make those wonderful jokes, you've got to keep going in spite of them. You can't, you can't...

JE: I was allowing them their laughter.

NP: I know, I know it's instinctive for a comedian to wait for the laugh but in Just A Minute you have to sort of ride your laugh and go through it. I'm afraid Tim came in during that long pause when they were laughing. So Tim 10 seconds on the gentleman thief starting now.

TR: There is something rather paradoxical about the idea philosophically that someone can be simultaneously at the same time a gentleman and...


NP: So Tim Rice was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. And with the other points he gained in the round, he's gone forward and he's now equal with Peter Jones in the lead. Stephen Frost it's your turn to begin and the subject is a parallel universe. Can you tell us something about that in this game starting now.

SF: Is there such a thing as a parallel universe? Well in Star Trek there is. Sometimes they go across a border in space and find themselves in a mirror-type situation, obviously good versus evil and good always wins. I believe...


NP: Ohhhh! Ohhh! So Jenny you listened well, you got in first, repetition, 48 seconds on a parallel universe starting now.

JE: Occasionally I find myself occupying a parallel universe, usually when I have drunk too much! No...


JE: That's a paralytic universe, isn't it!


JE: But being a normal woman...

NP: I'm sorry Jenny you were challenged before you made your joke. Um and it was Peter who challenged you, what was it?

PJ: She said I twice!


NP: Jenny I'm afraid I must be fair and give it to him. I mean... and Peter you've got the subject with 39 seconds, a parallel universe starting now.

PJ: Well I don't know much about parallel universes really...


NP: Tim challenged.

TR: I thought I'd interrupt now and save him the embarrassment of deviating...

NP: The thing about Just A Minute, Tim, is that even if you don't know much about the subject you still have to keep going on the subject. So you've still got the subject...

PJ: Have I?

NP: ...and there are 36 seconds...

PJ: Having thought of it...

NP: ... on a parallel universe Peter starting now.

PJ: Yes well it's another kind of universe, a bit like ours I suppose. Running on the same lines and a bit vaguely errrrr repetitive...


NP: You, you needn't have bothered really, should you? So you got in all right, there was the hesitation Tim. Twenty-seven seconds, a parallel universe starting now.

TR: As I understand it the word universe means encompassing absolutely everything that is going around. Therefore a parallel universe is utterly and completely and totally impossible. It cannot exist...


NP: Stephen you challenged.

SF: Two its.

JE: It's not as bad as I!

NP: Stephen it was a correct challenge though, so I have to give it to you. Ten seconds available, a parallel universe starting now.

SF: If there is a parallel er...


NP: Listen Stephen I'm going to be very kind, because you haven't played the game very much before. There are seven seconds, a parallel universe starting now.

SF: If there is a parallel universe, then surely in that universe, there is a game of Just A Minute going on where Stephen Frost is winning by a thousand points...


NP: So Tim Rice has now taken the lead, he's just ahead of Peter Jones and then Stephen Frost and Jenny Eclair in that order. And Tim Rice your turn to begin. Tim, censorship. Tell us something about that emotive subject in this game starting now.

TR: I'm unable to give you my full views on this topic because they are very contentious and would be censored by the powers that be. Therefore I would like to read you a short poem or rather recite one.
There was a young man from Australia
Who went to a dance as a dahlia
And at this point I cannot remember the way this limerick ended up. I wish somebody would press the button because I'm...


NP: Jenny you pressed the button.

JE: Yes, a humanitarian gesture. I thought I'd put him out of his misery.

NP: Deviation, hesitation and it would probably be repetitious. And you have 36 seconds, censorship starting now.

JE: There is nothing so exciting as a 15-year-old sneaking in to an X movie, when you've told your mother you've gone to see Doctor Zhivago, and in actual fact you've gone to see Confessions Of A Pervert! Um ah...


NP: Stephen you challenged.

SF: Gone to see Doctor Zhivago, gone to see.

NP: Gone to see Doctor Zhivago...

JE: I went to see them both!

NP: Yeah.

SF: You had two sees.

NP: Stephen you have 24 seconds to tell us something about censorship starting now.

SF: Most radio shows have a loop system where if somebody calls in and swears, they put a beep in, instead of hearing the offending word. Beep, it happened just then, I don't know if you noticed. So...


NP: There was a beep. And what was your challenge?

TR: Two beeps, one was beep and one was beep. There was still two beeps.

NP: I didn't hear him do two beep noises.

SF: I said the word beep and then I made the noise of a beep.

NP: But he didn't do beep twice. He didn't go beep and then go beep again.

TR: Are you deaf?

NP: No. I'm right, aren't I Stephen?

SF: I agree with you.

NP: Well of course you do.

TR: Oh!

NP: I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt.

SF: Thank you Nicholas.

NP: You have censorship, 14 seconds starting now.

SF: What was the subject? I've forgotten! (bursts into giggles)


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation.

SF: I can't remember what it was. What are we talking about?

NP: I actually said it. So it's now with you, 12 seconds Peter, censorship starting now.

PJ: Well naturally I'm against all forms of censorship unless I happen to be the censor. And most people, I think, agree with that. They would like to be in charge and say this doesn't work and...


NP: Peter Jones speaking as the whistle went gained that extra point as well as others and has moved forward. He's now equal with Tim Rice. Jenny Eclair will you take the next round, letting go, 60 seconds starting now.

JE: I have no problem letting go, Nicholas, because I have no ohhhhhh!


JE: I'm sorry! Can I start again? It's my round!

NP: It's...

JE: You gave him the benefit of the doubt when he went all stupid at the beginning of his and went all weurgh weurgh like that! You let him have another go!

SF: Jenny! Jenny! Let it go!

NP: To be fair in Just A Minute, you have appealed to me Jenny and I find you very appealing. And you carry on for 54 seconds on letting go starting now.

JE: The last time the idea of somebody letting go made me nervous was when I was a child riding a two-wheeler bike without the stabilisers. And my father let go of the saddle, consequently I fell off removing all the skin from my face. I'm still picking bits of gravel out of my eyebrows, the traitor. Since then I've had to have many years of painful plastic surgery. Can you not see? Oh the trauma! The other difficult thing to let go of is your past. How often have we sat looking through our old drawers and sobbed...



NP: The time you have to worry Jenny is when other people look through your old drawers. But Tim Rice challenged you then. What was it Tim?

TR: Hesitation.

NP: Yes I'm afraid it was. She did right to hesitate. But we loved it Jenny. And Tim's got in with 23 seconds on letting go starting now.

TR: One of the tragedies of my life was letting go of my dog Fido. I loved that hound so much. It was part of my life. I felt as one with it when I was attached to its leash or lead as it is sometimes referred to. Once I let go of this mutt I never saw him again. I was distraught, I was sad, I had...


NP: Jenny you got in first.

JE: I, I, I! Me, me, me!

NP: No, no, he was better than that, I was, I was. But you got in cleverly with only three seconds to go on letting go Jenny starting now.

JE: There are some things...


NP: Stephen you challenged.

SF: Just thought she was a bit slow starting then.

JE: I was not!

SF: She was! Come on, you've had your break! You know what you're doing! You've spoken on the subject!

NP: No, it was only one second actually.

JE: Thank you! There are some things you should not let go of...


NP: Wait a minute! I haven't said start yet! Your two seconds starts now.

JE: There are some things you should never get hold of...


NP: So Jenny Eclair, speaking as the whistle went, and other points in the round, she's now leapt forward. She's in third place. Stephen, oh a lovely subject here, very fashionable at the moment, yo-yo. Tell us something about yo-yo starting now.

SF: The yo-yo was originally called the oy. And it was unpopular because people would turn around and say "are you looking at me?" and a fight would start! Then they called it the yo-yo. This is the ancient Chinese word for boomerang with a piece of string on it. You can walk the dog, you can do the zigzag and you can do the simple up and down. And now they have modern ones that have clutches and gears on them so you don't have to do anything at all except wiggle it around on the end of your finger and make people laugh as you walk along the street. The yellow one that I have myself I have had for 32 years. It's made of wood and has a little bit of metal in the middle to make it weighty so that when you throw it out in one direction, it comes swinging back at twice the speed as you sent it out in. Now this was given to me by my great-aunt Bertha who when she was born was aaaaaaaaahhh!



NP: So I'll tell you what we'll do. Even though you were interrupted, we'll give you a point for being interrupted.

SF: Thank you.

NP: For what you did, because you went for 48 seconds. And ah I think he deserves an extra point. So Steve you got a point but Peter you challenged first. Yo-yo, you've got in there. I don't know what it was. Hesitation because he threw his thing down didn't he. Yo-yo with you Peter starting now.

PJ: I don't remember challenging that!

NP: Stephen you challenged again! You got back in, that was very clever of you, yes. So Stephen you didn't press your buzzer though. Press it quickly!


NP: That's right!

SF: It's working! It's working now!

NP: So that was a very long hesitation on part of, on Peter Jones' part. Another point to you Steve and 10 seconds for you to take up yo-yo again starting now.

SF: You can get musical ones. You can get the ones with lights flashing on top of them...


NP: Ohhhhhh!

PJ: Ones, he said ones.

NP: Ones and you get. Everything, yes!

PJ: Yes!

NP: The lot!

PJ: The lot!

NP: Peter you've got it this time, can you go on yo-yo now?

PJ: Well I'll try.

NP: Gird your loins, six seconds, yo-yo starting now.

PJ: It sounds like one of your correspondents from China who write to you and complain about er whatever it is...


NP: So Peter Jones and his bit about a yo-yo moved him forward, he's still just behind Tim Rice, who's two ahead of him. Tim, your turn to begin, Tim Rice. Happy as Larry, that's the subject. Tell us about it, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

TR: I'm bewildered about how this expression, happy as Larry, emerged. Who the hell was this Larry? Every Larry I've known has been a miserable git. The expression I knew as a youth was happy as a pig in Shipley which is a fine Yorkshire town, a beautiful city, nestling up there near the Dales and the moors...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Wasn't that near twice? He did!

NP: All right I believe you!

TR: I deny it!

NP: Oh right...

JE: I'm not sure now! Oh take it away Tim, go on!

NP: Right! Tim carry on, 42 seconds, happy as Larry starting now.

TR: Is this me on now?


NP: Yes Jenny you challenged, what was your challenge?

JE: Was it hesitation?

NP: Yes it was! Right! Happy as Larry, Jenny, 39 seconds starting now.

JE: Sometimes me and the old man have a night in. I look at him, as happy as Larry and I think well, this will never do! It is my job to make him miserable! So I'll start something like winding him up with "have you picked up that roll of lino today?" And all of a sudden he'll get all tense and go "oh no". And then within 10 minutes, we'll be having a humdinger of a row, and that's much better than sitting round looking all smug and contented. I think the original happy as Larry bloke must have been some imbecile, because men that just sit around smiling are a bit thick aren't they...


NP: Stephen Frost you challenged.

SF: I'm just standing up for men here. I'm not going to take it! No, ah, ah, sitting, sitting with your old man and we had sitting there.

NP: Sitting around, well listened Stephen.

JE: I said it three times actually.

SF: It was, I didn't want to show you up that much!

NP: Ten seconds with you Stephen Frost on happy as Larry starting now.

SF: Happy of... Larry... oh for goodness sake!


NP: Tim you got in then all right, and you've got 10 seconds on happy as Larry starting now.

TR: Other than happy as Larry, I was more affected by hats off to Larry, an expression that first found favour by an obscure American singer...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Total deviation, isn't it.

NP: And she's got in with one second to go Jenny, on happy as Larry starting now.

JE: I loathe happy...


NP: So at the end of that round Tim Rice is still in the lead, followed by Peter Jones and Jenny Eclair's now moved into third place ahead of Stephen Frost. Peter your turn to begin, topiary. Will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PJ: Well it involves clipping ewe trees and making them into bizarre shapes like peacocks or rockets or something or other. And just outside Worthing there was a garden where they had actually obscene topiary exhibited! But being in Worthing the people are so elderly they can't recognise them any more!



NP: Keep going!

PJ: Oh keep going? Yes! Well ah anybody who wants to indulge in ah...


NP: Ohhh!

PJ: Sorry!

NP: No, I must be fair Peter. Jenny did actually buzz first when you paused the other time and I said keep going. So we have to give it to Jenny for hesitation. Jenny you have the subject of topiary, 30 seconds available starting now.

JE: Topiary is featured in one of my favourite films which is called Edward Scissorhands. And it has the gorgeous Johnny Depp as a bloke who hasn't got fingers. He's got shears for fingers. Have you seen it...


NP: And Stephen you challenged.

SF: Two fingers!

NP: Two fingers! Topiary is with you Steve and there's 17 seconds available starting now.

SF: Many years ago my father gave me a pair of clipping shears and told me to cut the hedge into any shape I wanted to. I threw them away and bought a Black and Decker drill which was hopeless, because that's for putting holes in wood, not for cutting hedges. So I picked up the shears and (laughs)...


NP: Yes?

TR: Repetition of several things really!

NP: Several things!

TR: Hedges, shears!

NP: Shears, yes, Tim you've got in with six seconds on topiary starting now.

TR: There were two Australians, Kevin and Bruce, and one said "are you going to shear (share) those sheep?" and he said "no, you can have both of them!"



NP: Oh! A lovely gag but Jenny actually pressed her buzzer before the whistle went. Half a second on topiary starting now.

JE: As I said...


NP: So we're moving into the last round. A farewell performance. Can you tell us something about that Stephen, a farewell performance, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

SF: The thing about a farewell performance is that it's got to be good. If you do a bad one, then no-one will ever come and see you again, which doesn't make any difference because it's the last one you've done. So when I did my last farewell performance which I haven't actually performed yet, I will do it with all my heart and with all the... (starts to laugh)


NP: Jenny you've challenged.

JE: Tripped over his own tongue.

NP: Yes he did, yes. So he did repeat himself. So 42 seconds available, a farewell performance Jenny starting now.

JE: A farewell performance is normally the pre-runner to a comeback tour. Having been in this business for 16 years, I'm thinking of retiring. In fact lots of people suggest I should! I would like my farewell piece to er...


NP: Tim challenged.

TR: I'm afraid hesitation.

NP: Yes it was,

JE: Yes.

NP: Tim 26 seconds, you tell us something about a farewell performance starting now.

TR: The best people at farewell performances are those grand ladies of the operatic world. When they go out, they disappear with a bang, a huge explosion of talent, vitality and throbbing buttocks! They are wonderful to behold as they give every last little drop of their plasma and extract every single ounce...


NP: Stephen you challenged.

SF: A lot of everies there.

NP: A lot of everies, yes!

SF: The Every Brothers!

NP: And you cleverly got in Stephen with one second to go, a farewell performance starting now.

SF: With a helmet strapped to my head...


NP: So Stephen Frost brought that round to an end, he brought the show to an end. Let me give you the final score for those who are interested in positioning and so forth. It's been very fair actually because their contributions were amazing. Peter Jones started in the lead but finished up just in fourth place. And um Stephen Frost and Jenny Eclair, very fairly, equalled up just in second place together. But just ahead of them was Tim Rice, so Tim we say you are the winner this week! It only remains for me to say my thanks to our four humorous players of the game, Peter Jones, Tim Rice, Jenny Eclair and Stephen Frost. We also thank Elaine Wigley who has helped me with the score, held the stopwatch and blown her whistle when the 60 seconds is up. We also thank Ian Messiter who created the game and we are delighted to keep playing it. Our producer-director Chris Neill. And also this delightful audience here in the Corn Exchange in Brighton. Thank you for your warmth of your reception. And from all of us here, and our audience in the studio, and me Nicholas Parsons to our many listeners, tune in again next time we play Just A Minute. Thank you! Bye!