starring PAUL MERTON, CLEMENT FREUD, ROSS NOBLE and GREG PROOPS, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 26 August 2002)

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Thank you, thank you, hello, my name is Nicholas Parsons. And as the Minute Waltz fades away once more it is my pleasure to welcome our many listeners not only in this country but throughout the world. And also to welcome to the show four highly talented, skilled, humorous and regular players of the game, who have come together once more to give of their best as they try and talk on the subject that I give them, and they try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And those four people are sitting on my left, Paul Merton and Clement Freud. And sitting on my right Ross Noble and Greg Proops. Would you please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Claire Bartlett and Claire's going to help me keep the score, and she'll blow a whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the delightful Pleasance which is on the Fringe of the Edinburgh Festival in the year two thousand and two. And we have a very hyped-up, excited, adrenaline-fixed Festival Fringe audience ready to give of their best. As we start the show with Paul Merton. Paul, the subject, gosh! Why have they chosen this? I'm really nervous here! It's called the chairman's darkest secret. I didn't know that was coming up, any more than they did. But Paul would you talk on the subject starting now.

PAUL MERTON: Nicholas, or as close friends know him, Susan, is the first transsexual to successfully host a panel show in this country. Looking at him now, it's hard to believe that yes, he used to be a man! The transformation is extraordinary! As he wafts through Edinburgh, the scented air behind him, the various wisps of pillow cases hanging around his ears. He's come from the hotel where he is feted and starred in many productions in the bar. They know him there as Lily, because he can't use his own real name. As they see a stiletto heel print on the carpet, they look knowingly towards one another. They say "he has been here, who was once a she, and has now become a he again..."


NP: Well in spite of all the libellous things you said, they enjoyed it and you deserved your round of applause. But Clement you challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: Ah hesitation.

NP: Yep... oh!

PM: Well I don't know about that.

NP: I don't know about that. I think there were other faults. But I don't think he hesitated.

CF: Yes, he said ha-he!

NP: Oh that's right.

PM: I have a speech defect!

NP: Clement you have a correct challenge, you get a point for that of course, and you take over the subject of the chairman's darkest secret and there are 14 seconds available starting now.

CF: Dark, darker, darkest. I think the chairman's darkest secret is the goat which he keeps in a house behind number 14 Ashby-dela...


NP: Ah Paul Merton challenged.

PM: That's no secret, we all know about that!


PM: I've washed it more times than I can remember! Poor devil!

NP: Paul we give you a bonus point for that but Clement was interrupted, so he gets a point for that and he keeps the subject of the chairman's darkest secret and there are only three seconds left, thank goodness, starting now.

CF: It is a nanny, there's nothing queer about the chairman!


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Clement Freud so naturally he has a lead at the end of that round. Paul Merton follows him, and then Ross Noble and Greg Proops. The next subject is, I'm sure it's been, I'd like you to take it actually Greg. It's been chosen specially for you, because we don't get many Americans on the show, and we are delighted to welcome one on our game. And the subject is my accent. Will you tell us something about my accent starting now.

GREG PROOPS: Ah my accent is an impenetrable, indecipherable and incalculable, unplaceable accent. I come from California but ah originally I'm from Nasal-land! My mother is from Mississippi so she tends to speak with a long drawn-out drawl and say things like "it scared the peedunkle out of me". This is a colloquialism that I've never understood, no matter how many times my mother said it, in her own...


NP: Ross Noble challenged.

ROSS NOBLE: Repetition of mother.

NP: Yes you repeated your mother too often, I'm afraid.

GP: Whoa, you talking about my mother, Nicholas? A little early for that!

NP: You brought her into it, and you repeated it, I'm afraid. You can’t do that within the rules of Just A Minute. So Ross, good to hear from you, you have a correct challenge, a point of course, 33 seconds. And now you tell us something about your accent, my accent, starting now.

RN: Well for those of you listening on the World Service who don't know England, my accent is the poshest in all of the land! This is what people who are really at the top of their professions and like the Lords and ladies swanning around at garden parties. "Why, aye, your Majesty" will be heard coming across from there. "I'd very much like to enjoy one of your champion Ferrero Rochiers". You might even hear the beautiful refrain of "ooooh Ambassador" with the...


NP: Well Ross, they certainly enjoyed that, the, the image you created was wonderful. And you were speaking as the whistle went, you gained an extra point for that. You're in second place behind Clement Freud as we move into the next round which, Ross, it's actually your turn to begin. And er oh this is interesting. It says how to deal with a bully. I don't know whether you get many of those in your audience up here at the Fringe. But tell us how you deal with them or that subject starting now.

RN: I was a big fan of the popular game show Bulls Eye, when it was on in the 80s. And their little character which would appear on said show was in fact Bully the bull...


NP: Um Greg challenged.

GP: Ah repetition, I believe Ross said the word show twice.

NP: He did say the word show twice. Well listened Greg!

RN: You're good!

NP: So you've got your first point Greg, and you’ve got the subject, 51 seconds, you tell us something about how to deal with a bully.

GP: Being as I was four foot 11 until the age of 16, I had experience with bullies in my life. Wearing spectacles and having a smart mouth, led me into many situations where I was dangled over toilets and hung over lines. Being butt-dragged across the lawn is a distinct American pleasure that bullies entertain younger smaller children with in the United States of America. Growing up I was able to er gather...


NP: Yes, sorry, Paul you challenged.

PM: Bit of hesitation.

NP: There was a bit of hesitation. You erred there.

GP: Oh that was dramatic emphasis!

NP: It was dramatic...

GP: No-one knew what was coming next and I wanted to increase the suspense!

NP: But unfortunately you can't do that in Just A Minute, because those are the rules. And you did, actually I don't think there was much suspense actually. But ah ....


PM: Well...

GP: Why don't we trade places and I'll sit there?

NP: When I came on your radio show recently, you were rude enough to me...

GP: You're right! You're right! Fair play!

NP: No, it was just fun. My mobile went off in the middle of his show actually. The er...

PM: Somebody phoned you?

NP: Yes!

GP: He has himself on redial!

PM: Ah!

NP: Paul you have a correct challenge, and you have 23 seconds available to tell us something about how to deal with a bully starting now.

PM: Shoot them is a good way. Another way is to have, that's three ways...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Two ways!

NP: And you've got the subject of how to deal with a bully and there are um 19 seconds starting now.

CF: You get your hockey stick and approach another player of the same game who has a similar implement in his hands...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Sorry, was I challenged for this?

NP: Clement was interrupted, he gets a point for that, he keeps the subject, how to deal with a bully, Clement. And there are 12 seconds starting now.

CF: You lie down and pretend you're dead. They tend to go away and bully someone else, which is far preferable to being accosted or assailed by larger, heavier, stronger...


NP: Clement Freud was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, and he's increased his lead at the end of that round. And he also begins the next round. I know somebody wrote to me about this, but it's not an advantage always to begin, because you've got to keep going for 60 seconds, unless you're challenged, and er it's an incorrect challenge, you're less likely to make points when you start than when you don't start with the subject.

CF: That's fascinating!

NP: Yes well, I didn't want to answer...

CF: Did you know that?

PM: I didn't know that!

CF: No!

NP: I didn't want to answer the letter so I'm doing it here. Right. Clement the subject now is fudge. Will you tell us something about fudge in this game starting now.

CF: As if you are the first speaker you don't get any points unless you fudge it, I thought I would start fudging this particular subject and talk about condensed milk which is a hugely important...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well it was sort of sudden death really!

CF: It's the first, if you begin a subject, you don't get a lot of points.

PM: Is that right?

NP: So he was illustrating that, but in the process he lost the subject, because it was a correct challenge of hesitation. And you have 43 seconds to tell us something about fudge, Paul, starting now.

PM: Politicians are often accused of fudging the issue aren't they. You say to one of them "what time is it?" and they say "well I suppose it's..."


NP: Ah Clement challenged.

CF: Now you get a point...

NP: Even if...

CF: Repetition of say.

NP: That's right, he did say say twice. So Clement, you've got a point, you're illustrating my point I made at the beginning. And er fudge is still, is back with you, 37 seconds starting now.

CF: Fruit flavours... substances...


NP: Ah Paul challenged.

PM: That doesn't make any sense. Fruit flavours? What does that mean?

NP: I think he was going to go on and say...

CF: Wait! Just wait!

PM: Oh wait? How long should we wait for? For a minute?

NP: No, to be fair, he hadn't really got going. I mean...

RN: Is it...

NP: Yes?

RN: Is it all right if Greg and I just go for a sandwich?

GP: All this talk about fudge has got us hungry!

NP: Yes right. So ah, no, he didn't really get going. Clement, another point, 34 seconds starting now.

CF: A sugar thermometer is pretty important. And condensed...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Sorry, I thought he was hesitating there, just at the idea of a sugar thermometer. I thought he'd bamboozled himself, like.

NP: Well...

PM: Wouldn't it melt?

NP: What's that?

PM: Wouldn't it melt?

NP: I don't know. I think there was a slight hesitation Ross, so we're going to give you the benefit of the doubt Ross, and say you have the subject of fudge and 30 seconds starting now.

RN: Fudge, those tiny little lovely sticky bricks, often I buy them and build little houses out of them, and lick the tops of them in... oh just buzz me!


RN: I mean I'd clearly done!

NP: So Paul you challenged.

PM: A desperate cry for help!

NP: Right and you answered it, hesitation, 19 seconds, fudge with you Paul starting now.

PM: If you want to make really good fudge, the first, and perhaps the most important ingredient is condensed milk! Though you have...


NP: Ah Ross challenged.

RN: What about the sugar thermometer?

PM: No! Overrated! It's not an ingredient! You don't put the thermometer in! It's not one of those sweets that takes your temperature as you eat it! It's not one of those!

NP: So...

GP: Is there a sweet that takes your...

PM: There is! Yes!

GP: Really?

NP: What's that one?

GP: Yes what is it?

PM: Well it's not on the subject so...

GP: Well since we have a minute!

NP: Paul you have 12 seconds and another point, fudge is still with you starting now.

PM: When I was seven years old, undoubtedly my favourite foodstuff was fudge. I couldn't wait. Every Friday when I came home from school, my mother would lay it on the table. She'd say "get stuck in, son! That's the best fudge you'll ever eat!"


NP: So Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went gained an extra point and he's moved forward. He's one point behind our leader Clement Freud. And Ross Noble and Greg Proops are trailing in that order. And Greg it's your turn to begin, yes. The Scottish diet, that is the subject, 60 seconds starting now.

GP: Chips!



NP: And Paul you challenged.

PM: Ah hesitation.

NP: Yes you...

GP: I was going somewhere with that!

NP: Yes! You went for your laugh, you got it and retired! But Paul got in first and there are 58 seconds on the Scottish diet, Paul starting now.

PM: Well there are more incidents of heart disease in Scotland than anywhere else in western Europe. It's a bit of a shame really. I think it's got something to do with the fact that if it's not deep fried, it can't be food! There is an element though which says this is changing. And if you walk around the streets of Edinburgh you can see gay little cafes springing up which offer honest decent people a good time food-wise. That's another strange way of saying something to eat. I don't know why I said it like that but I did and I can't go back on it because that would be repetition...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: He could have gone back on it.

NP: Well he could have done.

CF: Deviation.

NP: No it's just, it's just a devious thought. He wasn't deviating within the rules of Just A Minute.

CF: He was deviating from the rules of Just A Minute.

NP: No he has the benefit of the doubt definitely. And er 30 seconds, tell us more about the Scottish diet, Paul starting now.

PM: Ah but fresh fish in the morning! Kippers lying on your plate! Sometimes they're cooked very very slowly...


PM: Oh!

NP: Yes?

CF: I thought that could have been repetition.

NP: Oh you're so quick Clement! I don't know how you do it! It was repetition of very and you have 23 seconds, tell us something about the Scottish diet starting now.

CF: I think we've had so much about the Scottish diet, that I would tell you my favourite chat-up line. Is when somebody says...


NP: Ross challenged.

CF: Oh you mustn't interrupt!

RN: I think he hesitated and deviated at exactly the same time!

NP: He did but...

CF: We'll give him the benefit of the doubt!

GP: Do we each get to chair our own individual game?

NP: You can demand points as Clement's just done and it was very funny! But he did hesitate, and you've got the subject Ross, and a point of course on the Scottish diet starting now.

RN: The Scottish people really do love to eat bits of organ straight from the animal itself. The ultimate dish here in this fine tartan land would be licking a pig's face. Not even bothering to do...


NP: So Ross Noble's moved forward. He's still in third place, just ahead of Greg Proops, and Paul Merton and Clement Freud are now equal in the lead. Ross it's your turn to begin. Something that you, a subject which you probably know a great deal about, up here at the Fringe. A full house. You've experienced that, nearly every night I'm sure. But talk on the subject starting now.

RN: I very much have a full house, because I have an inability to walk past any shop without buying everything in there. So my particular place of residence is filled with absolute junk. I have ankle grinders, flick charts. I also own many different welding pieces of equipment. I have steel chickens which I've placed at the pond that I got in Majorca. A large Mexican donkey which is...


NP: Greg you've challenged.

GP: I think it was a large chicken and a large donkey.

NP: He did that's right.

GP: Repetition.

NP: Repetition of large, well listened.

RN: I should have said larger, shouldn't I?

NP: Yeah larger, even larger yes.

RN: Just because the donkey, the donkey is bigger than the chicken.

NP: Right!

RN: I'm a fool to myself really!

GP: More of a philosophical conundrum, I'd say!

RN: Yes!

GP: If I could say it!

NP: Greg you had a correct challenge.

GP: Yes, fantastic!

NP: I know, I know it is! Yes and you have the subject and a point, a full house is with you starting now.

GP: A full house is of course what every performer who comes to the Fringe wants, expects, needs and enjoys. However often you'll find that when you are out in front of the audience, there's two people there, and one of them's making a phone call. At that point you realise that you mustn't dwell on the fact that you haven't a full house. But must give it your all. You've got to get out there and tell your jokes, one after the next. Or if you're me tell your jokes from years...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Two jokes.

NP: There were too many jokes I'm afraid.

GP: Oh I'm sorry! Am I crowding the show with humour?

NP: I'll give you a bonus for that last one, you got a round of applause...

GP: Thank you, because the monologue had nothing!

NP: Yes! Puts you equal with Ross in third place. But Clement gets a point for a correct challenge and he has ah eight seconds, a full house starting now.

CF: When I have a full house, I used to tell them my favourite chat-up line, which is somebody saying to me "will you come up stairs, and make love to me?" And I would say "I can no longer do both!"


NP: So give Clement the point for speaking when the whistle went. And that bonus point which he's been fighting for all along! And he's increased his lead at the end of the round. And the next subject Paul is for you to start, and it is Highland games. Tell us something about that very Scottish subject in this game starting now.

PM: There are many wonderful, traditional games played in the Highlands. First example, tossing the bullock, hunting the neaps and tatties. These are various pastimes that have been handed down from father to son over generations. And it's a marvellous sight to see these brawny men standing...


NP: Ah Ross challenged.

RN: Brawny?

PM: Yeah.

NP: Brawny, yes.

RN: Is that allowed?

NP: Oh yes.

CF: Good word.

RN: Oh I was thinking of, er, sorry!

NP: Have you gone, Ross?

PM: It's a...

RN: Yeah I have. Because I thought it was like men with brawn and scrawny, and he combined the two.

NP: I don't know where we go from there. Paul, an incorrect challenge, another point, 44 seconds, tell us more about Highland games starting now.

PM: Grouse hunting could be classed as a Highland game as well, I suppose...


NP: Ah Clement challenged.

CF: No it couldn't!

PM: Yes it could! It, it might be wrong but it could be classed. You can class an egg as a chicken! But you might be wrong, but you could class it!

NP: That, that is an argument but if we actually have that argument all the time in Just A Minute, we'd never get anywhere.

PM: We'd never get anywhere Nicholas.

NP: No that's... and they do grouse shooting at places outside of Scotland. So I think we have to give Clement the benefit of the doubt which he loves! And say Clement you have 41 seconds, tell us something about Highland games starting now.

CF: I received a letter the other day from the Ross and Grommity Caber Tossing Association, saying that in view of my advanced age I should take part in the hop, step and jump, for over 75s. I said "pole vault is the sport for me". And ever since I have been trying this extraordinary athletic pursuit of running down a runway, a causeway... I've said run and cause and way...


NP: I know but they enjoy it...

CF: They're hyphenated!

NP: Ah...

CF: You're quite right!

NP: Anyway Paul you challenged.

PM: Yes, he said run and way and cause twice.

CF: No! Hyphenated words! The only repetition was the hyphen!


NP: Well I mean, I thought they were words, I didn't think there was a hyphen. I don't think people put the hyphen in nowadays, so...

PM: No, not any more! Not since we joined Europe! But I get challenged because I said grouse hunting was a Highland game, and you say you give him the benefit. Then he starts talking about pole vaulting!

NP: I know! But he did pause.

PM: Did he pause?

NP: Yes! And I think you shall have the benefit of the doubt on this occasion.

PM: There, see! It all works out in the end, doesn't it!

NP: It all works out evenly in the end. I have to try and be fair. Highland games, 12 seconds Paul starting now.

PM: Undoubtedly the highlight of any Highland games is when all the competitors stand in the middle of the circle, they look at each other, and they speak these words, they say...


NP: Oh what timing eh! So Paul you got an extra point again, and you've moved forward, you're two ahead of Clement Freud. And what do they say? Were you going to say something or were you just timing it for dramatic effect?

PM: I was timing it for dramatic effect, Nicholas!

NP: Well done, well...

PM: I could see the whistle out of the corner of my eye!

NP: So you see the way they play the game! Listeners, I have to point these things out to her. If Claire puts the whistle up a little early they slow down. If she puts it up late... anyway it doesn't really matter! Greg it's your turn to begin and after that the subject is small talk.

GP: Interesting!

NP: Yeah interesting, right! Will you tell us something about that subject of small talk in this game starting now.

GP: People always come up to me and mention different various topics. Like lately I've heard that Elvis Presley was Scottish. Ah here his original name was Elvis Prescott. And ah...


NP: (laughs) Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of Elvis.

NP: (laughs) Of Elvis.

GP: Hey man, I'm talking about the king!

PM: Yeah!

GP: You mean I don't get to repeat that?

PM: Yeah!

NP: No, no, no. Right Paul, a correct challenge, and 49 seconds, small talk starting now.

PM: Small talk is the sort of thing that I'm very bad at. I can't stick small talk, I never know what to say. If you're going to say... oh!


PM: As I've demonstrated!

NP: Yes! Clement yes?

CF: Repetition.

NP: Repetition of say, right. Small talk with you Clement and there are 42 seconds starting now.

CF: Does your mother taken in washing? Has she sold her mangle? What became of the old piano your sister used to strangle? Has your father plenty of work? Does he still get boozed too? Tell me all the particulars and stay as longer as you used to. Was a Victorian Music Hall song which I think epitomised small talk. But what Paul was saying er made a lot of...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: A hesitation sadly.

NP: Errrrrr we interpret as hesitation.

PM: Yes.

NP: So Paul you have the subject back...

CF: I thought that was his name!

NP: Right! You have eight, you have 18 seconds on small talk starting now.

PM: What a lot of weather we've been having lately! I suppose is the ultimate of small talk! When you meet a stranger somewhere and you're thinking how can we pass the time. Perhaps there is something in common, what could it be? I know, we'll talk about what we have above us, in the...


NP: Um Clement challenged.

CF: Four whats.

NP: One yes.

PM: Four whats?

CF: What, what, what, what.

PM: Enough for a, almost enough for a small light bulb! Am I being challenged on a small word like what?

NP: Well if you say it, often they let it go, when you repeat it once.

PM: Did they?

NP: But you did repeat it more than once.

PM: Did I?

NP: Yes! And Clement not only has the subject, but he has any benefit that's going, and two seconds available Clement, small talk starting now.

CF: The new laundrette is opening...


NP: I have to tell you we're moving, oh let me give you the score at the end of that round which is that Paul is just one point ahead of Clement Freud and the other two are trailing them a little. Greg Proops and Ross Noble equal. And we're moving into the final round. And Ross it's your turn to begin and the subject is slogans. Tell us something about slogans in Just A Minute starting now.

RN: One of the most famous slogans ever would be "make love, not war" which led to er quite a lot of amorous servicemen going into battle and er trying it on with the enemy. They come out wearing fancy clothing, maybe stockings and suspenders, saying "how's it going, you crazy kid," they'd say as they started to gently writhe around in the trenches, as if they were performing some sort of novel dance or even some sort of erotic movement...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Sadly, repetition of some sort.

NP: Yeah there was some sort there I'm afraid.

RN: Oh yeah, fair enough, yep.

NP: Yes so you went, you went for, oh my goodness me yes, you, you went for um er 22 seconds.

RN: Blimey!

NP: Yes! Sorry I've got it wrong!

RN: I'm hugely impressed too!

NP: Sorry...

RN: It's 42 seconds on that!

NP: I have to subtract!

RN: Hang on a second, no, 22 seconds...

NP: No, you, you went for 32 seconds.

GP: Do I hear 12? Any advance on that?

RN: I don't mind telling you, I'm now frightened and confused!

NP: Right! So Greg is now comforting Ross! But Paul you had a correct challenge and you have 28 seconds for slogans starting now.

PM: A lot of slogans we're familiar with these days spring from the advertising industry. "Go to work on an egg" was a very popular slogan in the 1960s, created by that woman novelist Fay Weldon, when she was working as a copywriter. Not perhaps an interesting fact, but nevertheless a true one. The slogan I live my life by is this. "If you can be kind, honest, sincere, and you can fake all those elements, you have a career in show business"!


NP: Right! What a note on which to finish Just A Minute. So we finish the show as I said, and that was to be the last round so let me give you the final situation, always emphasising as I like to do that it's the contribution they make and not the points they win. Which I'm sure you'll agree, but they are keen to get their points. So let me tell you that Greg Proops and Ross Noble were equal in third place. In second place was Clement Freud. And he was three points behind Paul Merton. So we say Paul you are the winner this week, Paul Merton! So it only remains for me to say a special thank you to these four delightful, clever and humorous players of the game, Paul Merton, Ross Noble, Greg Proops and Clement Freud. I also thank Claire Bartlett who has helped me with the score and blown her whistle so elegantly when the 60 seconds was up. And we thank also our producer-director, Claire Jones who does such a marvellous job. And we're indebted to Ian Messiter who created this game. And we are thankful to this lovely audience here at the Fringe at the Pleasance during the Festival 2002 who have been so warm and generous in their reactions! From them, from me Nicholas Parsons and our team, good-bye until the next time we play Just A Minute!