starring PAUL MERTON, CLEMENT FREUD, PETER JONES and TONY HAWKS, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 22 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 pleasure to welcome not only our loyal and faithful listeners throughout the world, but also our loyal and faithful performers in this game who have joined us this week to participate. We welcome back four of the outstanding players of the game. The delightful Paul Merton, the equally entertaining and spontaneous Tony Hawks, and two different generation of comedy performers. A wonderful actor performer and comedy player Peter Jones, and also a great humorist, wit and raconteur Clement Freud. Would you please welcome all four of them! And as usual I am going to ask them to speak on the subject that I will give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviating from that subject. Beside me sits Jane Gibson who's going to help me keep the score. She has a stopwatch here which she will hold 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 which is in the heart of our great capital city of London. Paul Merton will you begin the show this week, the subject is the secret mission. Tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

PAUL MERTON: Many years ago I was given a secret mission by the British Government that I had to make my way to Prague in Czechoslovakia, hide underneath a shoe box for several days, and make contact with a gentleman who I knew only as Donald. He approached me one late afternoon, the rain was streaming down the window. As I looked out, because I put a window in the shoe box! I don't care!


PM: I knew I was going to say window and shoe box there, but I was bored!

NP: But Tony Hawks you challenged first.

TONY HAWKS: Ah repetition of window.

NP: Yes he repaired the word window. And he was a little bit bored so he threw in a repetition. And you have a correct challenge, you get a point for that of course Tony. You take over the subject which is the secret mission, 35 seconds are available starting now.

TH: They have a lot of secret missions in Mission Impossible. And they always say "your mission, should you choose to accept" and they never refuse it! I want them to say I...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: He refuses loads of them, but they wouldn't make very good television programmes! A man walks into a phone box, listens to a tape recorder, decides not to do the job, there's not an hour's worth of television in that. They only show you the ones they do, because otherwise it would be a waste of time!

TH: Well that's my minute gone! That's what I was going to bloody talk about!

NP: I don't think that was strictly deviating within the rules of Just A Minute. Paul I can't agree with the challenge so Tony you have another point, another um and you carry on with the subject, 24 seconds available starting now.

TH: I have a secret mission tonight which I can't tell you about, because if I did it wouldn't be a secret. And technically I would be deviating from the subject. And Lordy, that's the last thing I want to do. Instead...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: Tell us what the first thing you'd want to do!

TH: Well it would be ah...

NP: Well I don't think you need ask that. I'd like to know what is your challenge within the rules of Just A MInute Clement?

CF: Say good evening.

NP: Well you said it very nicely, you got a nice reaction, but I'm afraid it was an incorrect challenge. So Tony more points to you, another one, secret mission still with you and nine seconds available starting now.

TH: David and I walked up the steps to MFI's offices. I don't know why...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Buying furniture, were you?

NP: No I think I must give the benefit of the doubt to Paul Merton here. Say Paul, yes, a correct challenge, a point to you, four seconds, the secret mission starting now.

PM: There is a man in the audience from Sweden whose secret mission is to rub out Nicholas Parsons...


NP: Whoever is speaking when the whistle is blown gains an extra point for doing so. On this occasion it was Paul Merton, so at the end of this round he has got two points. Peter we've yet to hear from you so why not take the next round. A charming one, Jabberwocky, 60 seconds starting now.

PETER JONES: Yes Lewis Carroll has always been anathema to me. I think he's a terribly boring writer. He was quite interested in punting with young girls and telling them stories, very innocently I'm sure. But they were so boring! I thought when I was seven and learning to read that if this is what ah awaits me then I don't really go on, or want to go on with it! Ah but I...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: I think there was definitely a hesitation.

PJ: A small one.

NP: Yes yes. Thirty-three seconds available, jabberwocky starting now.

PM: Jabberwocky, or as they say in Australia robber-jockey is a rider of a horse that you can't trust is going to do the best job for the stable. It's (starts to giggle)...


PM: There's people trusting every word I say!

NP: Tony you challenged first.

TH: Well he just broke into laughter didn't he.

NP: Yes.

TH: And he repeated ha!

NP: We interpret that as hesitation. Right Tony, another point to you, 23 seconds, jabberwocky starting now.

TH: Jabberwocky was the first film directed by Terry Gilliam...


NP: Ah Paul Merton challenged.

PM: No it wasn't.

TH: On Thursday the 26th of February 1971!

NP: And you were there were you?

TH: Well that's what I was going to go on to say.

PJ: Funny, that was a Tuesday!

PM: Deviation!

NP: That is a correct challenge of deviation so Paul another point to you, 18 seconds, jabberwocky starting now.

PM: I suppose whenever I hear the word jabberwocky I'm immediately taken back to those wonderful halcyon childhood days when me and Prince Philip used to travel down towards Cambridge, the dreaming spires of that beautiful city, the city where oh...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of city.

NP: The city yes. And Clement...

PM: Of city.

NP: Clement you cleverly got in with one second to go, a point for a correct challenge, jabberwocky starting now.

CF: It was brillig...


NP: Well Clement Freud was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. And he is now in second place behind our joint leaders Paul Merton and Tony Hawks. And Clement Freud it's your turn to begin, the subject is the West End. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

CF: I suppose every city and town, even villages and hamlets have west ends. I have personally been to the west end of Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. And leaving the Australian continent, the west end of England, London, especially Mayfair which is known as the west End by those who dwell in the metropolis of England...


NP: Tony Hawks challenged.

TH: Repetition of England.

NP: Yes that's right yes. Thirty-four seconds for you Tony on the West End starting now.

TH: We are making this recording in the wonderful Radio Theatre, not miles away from the centre of the West End in London. And after the show no doubt the five of us here will go out and drink into the night as we do after every other occasion when we've done this. Some put pints away like nobody's business, others decide that they want to go to Soho, I don't go along with that myself, I'd rather see the theatre or some such thing. It really is the entertainment capital of the world, if you like. New York could be a rival but I don't think it touches the West End as we know it. I've been to the West End in Huddersfield...


NP: So Tony Hawks is excelling this week, and with more great style and panache. He went till the whistle went, gained that extra point fro doing so and increased his lead at the end of the round. And Tony your turn to begin, the subject is contortionist. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

TH: Someone told me if you want to be a contortionist, it helps if you are double jointed. Because you can smoke both the joints and then you don't feel any pain as you move your body into a different position. I'm able to put my left leg behind my right ear but it is excruciatingly painful because amputation is involved. A contortionist is a gymnast or such like who moves parts of his magnificent physique into these extraordinary places. But you could be a wordsmith who twisted things, like we do on Just A Minute. Many times we have talked for 50 seconds, sometimes longer, a minute in my case, which is clearly what I'm going to do here because no-one...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: No he isn't!

NP: So...

PM: Deviation, he's deviated from contortionists and is now talking about playing Just A Minute.

NP: Exactly, deviation...

TH: For about point one of a second!

NP: So Paul I agree with the challenge, 17 seconds with you, contortionist starting now.

PM: My next door neighbour is a contortionist and he likes nothing better than looking up old friends around about the Christmas holiday. Because when you are a contortionist you can get yourself into all kinds of strange positions. In fact that's what I meant the first time round but nobody laughed so I can't repeat it. So you get the idea if I go over the subject matter using different words...


NP: Tony Hawks has challenged just as the whistle is about to go.

TH: Well he's talking about Just A Minute and how he's not allowed to repeat things within the game.

NP: Um...

TH: He's doing exactly what I did.

NP: You, you've been hoisted on your own petard Paul so Tony...

PM: Have I?

NP: Yes! Within Just A Minute. And Tony Hawks has got the subject back, he's got a second to tell us more about contortionist starting now.

TH: Lulu...


NP: So Tony Hawks speaking...

PM: Repetition of Lu!

TH: Too late now!

NP: Too late now. And Tony you were speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. You're one ahead of Paul Merton and two ahead of Peter Jones and four ahead of Clement Freud. That is the situation as we move into the next round which is Paul Merton's turn to begin. Oh Paul what are you going to say about this, I wonder. The rudest person I ever met. Oh they're giggling already! Sixty seconds starting now.

PM: Well people like me generally so they aren't particularly rude to me. I suppose we do find rudeness. Some people say cab drivers are...


NP: Tony Hawks.

TH: Repetition of people.

NP: Yes I'm afraid there were more people, it came in more than once. So Tony well listened, you've got in with 52 seconds still, the rudest person I ever met starting now.

TH: The rudest person I ever met was Fidel Castro. We were at a party in Cuba and I was having a marvellous evening and I went...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Went.

NP: Went yes.

PM: Going into the Spanish pronunciation!

TH: Yes!

NP: Deviation from the English pronunciation as we understand it and Paul you've got in with 42 seconds on the rudest person I ever met starting now.

PM: Sometimes security people outside buildings...


NP: Tony Hawks challenged.

TH: Repetition of people again!

NP: Well listened Tony another point to you, the subject back with you, 38 seconds, the rudest person I ever met starting now.

TH: Lu-ditto, that fine singer, was extraordinarily ride to me after Top Of The Pops. Because I'd been on that programme actually but we won't go into that, that would be deviating. But all I asked...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Why did you bring it up?

NP: Twenty-seven seconds for you to tell us now something about the rudest person I ever met starting now.

PJ: Well I met Castro several times and he was awfully nice to me, I must say. Particularly at parties in Cuba where they drank a lot of bacardi rum and danced and er I joined in. And he was an extraordinary man in a way because, I don't know whether you know about him...


NP: Tony Hawks challenged.

TH: So who was the rudest person you ever met?

PJ: I was going to tell you about Fidel's brother!

NP: Nine seconds for you Tony, correct challenge, the rudest person I ever met starting now.

TH: I was on a pirate ship in the Atlantic Ocean, the Jolly Roger flag up on the mast. And the bosun called down to me. He said "oi!"...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: He's nowhere near the rudest person...

NP: No, no, he's...

TH: The bosun was about to call down. I was setting the scene!

NP: Clement I agree with the challenge, one second available still, the rudest person I ever met starting now.

CF: Ruud Gullit...


NP: So Clement Freud speaking as the whistle went has moved forward. He's still trailing a little for once. Out in the lead is Tony Hawks. And Peter Jones it's your turn to begin. Feng shui. Will you tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PJ: That isn't even English!

NP: No...

PJ: Why do they bring it to the worst linguist in, on the team? It doesn't seem reasonable to me.

NP: You give it as, as a Chinese linguist, give us the correct pronunciation.

PJ: I can't pronounce it! I'm not a linguist and certainly not a Chinese one!

NP: Is there any Chinese linguist in the audience? We need some help here.


NP: Fong shway? All right, shall we go...

PM: That's nice isn't it!

NP: Fong shway...

PM: Get in for nothing, start using language like that!

NP: Peter the subject fong shway or feng shui or which ever way you want to take it. It's up to you, your pronunciation will be accepted, 60 seconds on this subject starting now.

PJ: It sounds vaguely like one hundred and sixty-seven in the menu of the Chinese Garden in Finchley Road. Now I don't know whether it is or not, or whether it's a food or musical instrument. Or a...


NP: Paul Merton has challenged you. He's helped you out.

PM: Deviation, it's both! It is food and a musical instrument.

NP: Is it?

PJ: There are all kinds of possibilities!

PM: No, hesitation.

NP: Yeah it was hesitation and 45 seconds for you to tell us something about this subject starting now.

PM: Feng shui is one of the tidiest of all the Chinese arts. Unlike kung fu it's much neater. It doesn't involve people getting hit very hard. It's the belief that you have to put places like mirrors in a very secure part of the house where it reflects golden light and wealth...


NP: Tony Hawks has challenged.

TH: I put it to you that a mirror isn't a place! It's an object!

PM: Are you actually listening to what I'm saying? You're not taking notes, are you? You're wasting your time!

NP: You'd be surprised how many people take notes and write in to me about it. But...

PM: How many? Shall I tell you now Nicholas? It's been me over all these years!

NP: Oh really? Your letters were...

PM: I put the funny writing at the bottom. Wing Hung Suk at the bottom.

NP: Yes!

PM: Peking! Peking High Street! Big fan of Nicholas Rarsons! I write that! It's me! It's me!

NP: Um Tony a correct challenge, you have a point and you have 25 seconds to tell us something about feng shui, feng shui, ooohh whichever way you wish to take it, 25 seconds starting now.

TH: Take the mirror and place it in a fantastic spot and your luck could change. Such is the Chinese art of feng shui which tells you that placement is everything to get the energy in your house flowing correctly. If you have the wrong kind of energy then you will attract bad luck and heaven knows we don't want that...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: It sounded as though he said energy twice.

NP: No he said energies and energy.

PJ: You got that, did you?

NP: I got that. One of the jobs I'm paid for is to listen and if I don't, I get absolutely castigated by the other members of the team.

PJ: I see.

PM: Castigated.

PJ: Yes...

PM: That's a harsh punishment!

NP: I know! So I'm sorry Peter, incorrect challenge, one second available with you Tony starting now.

TH: Many people have asked me...


NP: Ah oh what happened then? Well Tony Hawks was obviously speaking when the whistle went and he's moved into a commanding lead at the end of that round. Paul it's your turn to begin and the subject here, this sounds a good one. What I keep under my mattress. Tell us something about it in Just A Minute starting now.

PM: I keep under my mattress at home a life-sized blow-up model of Nicholas Parsons, complete with functioning organs. We have a Wednesday get-together with the neighbours where I get out the foot pump and we stand around this little bit of plastic lying on the living room floor. And I slowly, up and down with my foot, I press air into this enormously lifeless form. And suddenly you see a whiff of a sports jacket. Is it, could it be we are going to have amongst us now a replica of that great man who's entertained us now for what seems like quarter of an hour? With his wonderful career. And as his form is filled with oxygen, the surrounding guests they gasp, they reach for twiglets, drink sherry. And there is a fully functioning chairman of Just A Minute there in front of them. What do we do? Well some people call it Satanic, some people call it evil. But what we like to do is we get hold of this figurine...


NP: Oh Paul Merton started with the subject, kept going for the full 60 seconds without being interrupted. So he gets a point for speaking when the whistle went. And Clement Freud your turn to begin, the subject for this round is the final demand. Tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

CF: The final demand tends to come in a brown envelope, with a window, and you open it. And the letter that comes from this covering begins "Dear Sir Unless". And the title is right, but the name is totally wrong! Um...


CF: Thank you!

NP: Peter Jones challenged.

CF: That was all I wanted to say.

PJ: The final demand is usually...

NP: Ah I haven't said, I haven't said... what was the challenge?

PJ: Hesitation.

NP: It was hesitation and I agree with that.

PJ: I would have thought that was fairly obvious!

NP: Peter I agree with the challenge, yes, hesitation, you have the subject and you have 40 seconds starting now.

PJ: Well the final demand is usually uttered by the Grim Reaper himself who says "follow me". Now when he says this ah to myself, then I will probably decline the invitation. Because I don't want to go into the next round as he would no doubt have me do. Because I don't believe it's going to be a great deal better than the one I'm living in now. So I shan't agree to the final demand and he may easily get the sack! He's obviously been put up to this by some higher authority, and I doubt if ah he would be able to survive disobedience of that kind on any scale at all. This is ah...



NP: Actually we accidentally let it run past the minute because ah...

PJ: You did?

NP: Yes I know...

PJ: That's why I lost!

NP: Before the buzzer went...

CF: I buzzed because it was running over the minute.

NP: And Jane accidentally didn't pick up her whistle on time and she, she let it go for two or three seconds over.

PJ: Ah!

NP: And then when Clement challenged, you'd already, the 60 seconds was up. You, you're not really bothered, are you? I mean, I know...

TH: We could get the Law Lords in on this one!

NP: And we're moving into the final round, for those who are interested in the points, the scoring. And um it is Tony Hawks, we're back with you Tony. Would you take the final round which is going to be liaisons. Tell us something about that in 60 seconds starting now.

TH: I very much enjoy the play Les Liaisons D'Onjour which was on in the West End of London for some time. And I suppose they're...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Deviation, it's pronounced feng shui!

NP: Um so well done Tony, I enjoyed the challenge, didn't know what it meant! And um Tony an incorrect challenge, liaisons d'ungeurors. (goes into French telling him how he has 52 seconds left and ending with start now)


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: (in French accent) Repetition!

NP: Of a pause?

PM: Yes.

NP: All right, Paul you have the subject, you have 48 seconds, liaisons starting now.

PM: What's the subject? Liaisons? Oh well I remember...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: (says in French that Paul isn't speaking in French) Paul continuez en Francais, eh? Quester mon (makes sick making noise)

NP: So we are going to...

PM: It's wasted on me! I did metalwork! Wasted on me! It's true!

NP: So if you want to continue in French, you have 46 seconds Tony, liaisons...

PM: Why, why has he got it?

NP: I don't know. I just thought it was good fun really. The whole thing's gone to pieces. You wanted to go on...

PM: He buzzes, talks, talks in some gibberish made-up language...

NP: No, it wasn't actually, it made sense. Ah...

PM: What did he say then?

NP: He said you've got to speak in French. That was the idea. I'm speaking in English now so it's all gone to pot. Ah...

PM: Speak in French?

NP: Yes.

PM: You've given him the subject because I wasn't speaking in French?


TH: Yeah exactly! I've got to carry on in French otherwise I'm out. It's like a party game!

NP: It's like a party game.

PM: Repetition, deviation, hesitation and not speaking in French!


TH: Well...

CF: You can speak in metalwork!

PM: You can speak in metalwork? All right! This French speaking rule, I've missed it over the last 33 years!

NP: Forty-six seconds for you to do metalwork French starting now.

TH: J'ette abba...

NP: No! Him!

TH: I thought I won that challenge!

NP: No, no, no...

TH: I want the Law Lords and I want them here now, and I want all their interests declared as well!

NP: Paul has a chance to show off his metalwork as he takes the subject and er you have 43 seconds...

PJ: He's going to take his teeth out?


NP: No that's bridgework!

TH: This is descending into anarchy!

NP: No!

PM: If you're Chinese, don't write in, sorry!

NP: I love to finish the show on a little bit of anarchy because the audience enjoy it. And it's metalwork or liaisons...

TH: I don't know the French for metalwork!

NP: No it's not you! He's going to do metalwork, you're doing French...

TH: Well...

NP: You all have to take it your own way. This is the new concept for this particular round, ah of Paul Merton, metalwork version of liaisons starting now.

PM: I remember the sap film, it was great. There were two blacksmiths meeting across the room and they've got these fans and they don't know which one's in charge of the pig iron or not. And one of them's making a little trowel in the foundry and the other person is there and they're wondering whether they're going to fall for this dark elegant man with huge muscles from making horse shoes every day. You see that's metalwork. They taught me that subject...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of metalwork.

NP: Yes that's metalwork. It's not on the card, it's liaisons.

PM: But I thought that was the subject? Metalwork?

NP: No, no, it's liaisons.

PM: It's the subject! You told me the subject was metalwork!

NP: No, metalwork-speak you had to give us on the subject of liaisons.

PM: Well what does that mean?

NP: It means whatever you want! That's the joy of this round!

PM: Oh all right, okay.

TH: Just as a matter of interest, what is the French for metalwork?

NP: Um...

PM: (in French accent) Me-tal-work.

TH: Oh okay then.

NP: No, no, (French word)

TH: No, okay, fine.

PM: That's egg isn't it?

NP: (more French words)

PM: Oh all right.

TH: I just need to know in case...

NP: Anybody else want to get in the French lesson? Clement Freud, you're...

PM: I didn't know you did French lessons! I've seen your card in the window!

NP: Right Clement Freud, 23 seconds, liaisons. And you have to take it in your own individual way. We've had French, we've had metalwork, and you've got to be original and distinctive as you go on the subject of liaisons starting now.

CF: Liaison is no more than a relationship between one, two or three, even four, possibly five, maybe six people...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Well he's not talking about metalwork. Deviation.

NP: Metalwork's not the subject, liaisons is. You did a metalwork version and the audience loved it, we all loved it. You got both points...

PM: Repetition of maybe.

NP: No he didn't say maybe, no, no, he didn't.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Or the fact he wasn't speaking in French? Ah right, 13 seconds still with you Clement starting now.

CF: (speaks in German)


NP: Tony Hawks you challenged.

TH: Repetition of sprechen!

NP: I think the final score is settled and Peter we haven't heard from you on this round and it's gone rather bizarre and rather anarchic. And I'd like to hear your version for the last four seconds on liaisons. And you have to take it in a different direction, a different language, a different concept. You have four seconds in which to achieve that if you possibly can starting now.

PJ: Well I'd enjoy telling you about one or two liaisons that I had in the past...


NP: So Peter Jones decided to take it in an utterly English way as becomes his personality. How delightful Peter!

PM: But he was on a unicycle as he was saying it!

NP: I know! But it doesn't come over very well on radio. Let me give you the final score because I'm sure you're just panting to know what it is, aren't you? You can't wait to hear can you, this audience out here. Gosh they're so hot, they can't wait to go home. Right, for once Clement Freud finished in fourth place. He was a few points behind Peter Jones, who finished in a very strong third place, one point behind Paul Merton. But out in the lead, a few points ahead was Tony Hawks. So we say Tony you are our winner this week! We do hope you’ve enjoyed this particular edition of Just A Minute. I would say bon soir, bon ee and in Chinese wang-toho, and all the other languages. And thank our four delightful and amazing exponents of this game. Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Clement Freud and Peter Jones. Also thank Jane Gibson who has blown her whistle so magnificently as well, helped me on the score and the stopwatch. We thank Ian Messiter for creating the game and making sure that we all have such fun when we come to the Radio Theatre here. And our producer Chris Neill who produces and directs it. From all of them, from me, Nicholas Parsons, thank you for tuning in. Thank our lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre. Tune in the next time we take to the air and play Just A Minute. Till then from all of us here, good-bye! Good-bye!