NOTE: Hour long 35th anniversary special, Helen Boaden's only appearance, Malcolm Messiter's only appearance.

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to this special edition of Just A Minute!


NP: Thank you, thank you, hello, my name is Nicholas Parsons. And as the Minute Waltz fades away it is with tremendous pleasure that I greet our many listeners not only in this country, but throughout the world to this special anniversary edition of Just A Minute, celebrating 35 uninterrupted years. And we are back at the Playhouse Theatre in London, which is on the edge of West End theatre-land where we did the very first recording all those 35 years ago. And we have a very distinguished audience, some important people from the BBC naturally, some amazing representatives of the glitterati of show business, as well as a number of very distinguished people who have appeared in the show in the past, and have come back to take part today. We naturally welcome back the man who was in the original pilot, he's taken part in almost as many shows as myself. He is that clever, articulate, skilful and sometimes acerbic but always entertaining Clement Freud. And someone who has played with great success in the early recordings, giving the unruly boys on the team then a run for their money. Since then she's been so busy with theatre work, she's only recently found time to return, we are delighted that she's back with us tonight, that is that lovely actress Sheila Hancock. And in the 80s, the new generation of comedians joined us, and in 1988, one from the Comedy Store Players, one of their brightest stars, a youngster, who our producer then gave one show to, but immediately he was so successful, he's been asked back regularly since. He's a man with an incredibly sharp wit, great comic inventiveness and on occasions surreal busts of humour, it is Paul Merton and he has returned. And finally our fourth panellists who first gained experience playing this game in a stage version at the Edinburgh Fringe many years ago. It's stood him in good stead, because in recent years he has become one of our most popular television stars with his engaging and sometimes outrageous humour. A man I have described as the leprechaun of comedy! Yes, it is the loveable Graham Norton. Please welcome all four of them! And as usual I am going to ask them to speak on a subject that I give them, and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviating from that subject. Beside me sits Claire Bartlett who's going to help me keep the score, she will blow a whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And we have one or two innovations in this show, which is not only an hour long, and we have one or two distinguished people in the audience who have played the game before. And we're going to ask one or two of them to set one or two of the questions, the subjects I should say. So Malcolm Messiter's with us. Now he is the son of Ian Messiter who created this amazing game.

MALCOLM MESSITER: Thank you very much.

NP: It's lovely to have you with us. And would you like to set a subject for Paul Merton.

MM: Yes, I think the subject's going to be Just A Minute in the year 2050. I'm sure it'll be still running then.

NP: Well what confidence you have Malcolm. I'm delighted about that. Yes it gives me, I don't know what I'll be doing in 2050 but er the um, I hope I'm still around anyway! Yes what a lovely subject. Paul will you tell us something about Just A Minute in 2050 starting now.

PAUL MERTON: In the year 2050, they'll be saying "well of course, Just A Minute, what a popular programme that was in the 20th and the 21st centuries. Poor old Nicholas Parsons, he went mad in the end, you know! Married a goat and lived in Rygate for 15 years! Never the same man again! Clement Freud, wonderful raconteur, he ended up changing his name to Dolly Clackett and living in West End as a high class prostitute! What an extraordinary story it was! Who would have thought those humble beginnings would have led to such a torturous existence in the end. Sheila Hancock, of course, became Queen. And it was considered an extraordinary piece of promotion but everybody's very happy because she looks so regal on the stamps. And Graham Norton, also as you remember married Liz Hurley, a shock announcement in its time it was. And they later had 15 kids and then appeared on QBC Shopping Channel Television. Whereas Paul Merton died a sad and lonely alcoholic after abusing everybody else in the show!" But I think what they'll say is it's a magnificent institution. The fact that it's been going for 35 years. Wouldn't it be...


NP: Ah Clement Freud you've challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: Ah repetition of 35 years.

NP: You did have the 35 years before, right at the beginning.


NP: It is the rules of the game! It's a legitimate challenge. I know you love what he was doing, and he does need a round of applause for an incredible... he went for... oh yes, you went for 56 seconds!


NP: No, we don't interpret that as meanness, we say that is the rules. And Clement you've got in with a correct challenge of repetition. So you take, you get a point for that of course, and you haven't won any friends in the audience. But you take over the subject, four seconds to go, Just A Minute in 2050 starting now.

CF: I shall...


NP: Ah Paul challenged.

PM: Oh hesitation I'm afraid.


NP: Because the audience clapped and they enjoyed what you did, we'll give you a bonus point because you didn't get anything for those 56 seconds, that's the least I can do. But Clement was interrupted, it wasn't hesitation. He gets another point and he has three and a half seconds, Just A Minute in two thousand and 20 Clement, starting now.

CF: I shall be a hundred and 26 years old and I...


NP: So at the end of the first round, Clement Freud got a number of points and naturally he's in the lead. Right, in our audience we have Gyles Brandreth who has played the game with tremendous skill and panache in the past. He's now of course doing his show in the West End of London. But Gyles have you got a subject for Graham Norton?

GYLES BRANDRETH: Yes Nicholas. When I was a boy, my contemporaries chose James Dean as their role model, or Che Guavara, whereas I chose Nicholas Parsons. And I think that explains everything that's happened to me since. It certainly explains why, as you say, I am appearing in the West End in a golden codpiece, black stockings and a purple suspender belt. So I'm following your example and as a tribute to you Nicholas, style icon, guru, life coach, the subject I am offering is suspenders.

NP: Suspenders, yeah. Suspenders is the subject Graham, can you go on that for 60 seconds starting now.

GRAHAM NORTON: In America, suspenders are what we call braces and help to call men's trousers up. Whereas in Britain they tend to encourage gentlemen to remove their lower garments. When they see a lovely lady girl, bow-wow, in a frilly elasticated thing, wrapped around her thigh to keep her stockings...


NP: Ah Sheila challenged.

SHEILA HANCOCK: They're not actually wrapped round your thigh. They're wrapped round your pelvis. Your thigh is your leg and suspenders have to have something to suspend on.

PM: Very good point!

GN: But aren't they... what's that thing, what is that thing then...

SH: That's a garter!

NP: That's the garter.

GN: Because I thought the other thing was the garter belt.

SH: No, no!

GN: And frankly, why the hell would I know this stuff?

SH: Well...

NP: You've yet to appear in the Rocky Horror Show, and then you'd discover all about it, But Sheila...

GN: I'm surprised I haven't, myself!

NP: Anyway Sheila knew what she was talking about, it's a correct challenge Sheila. You have the subject of suspenders and you have 38 seconds starting now.

SH: Well I personally am very fond of suspenders. I prefer them to wearing tights because I love the feeling of silk petticoat on top of my things and the air around my cruuuuu...


NP: Well Paul's challenge saved you there, I think Sheila. So Paul what was your challenge?

PM: Ah decency in broadcasting?

NP: Well you certainly saved...

SH: Well you know what I mean. I couldn't think of the word.

NP: I know!

PM: Thank God for that!

NP: So Paul, a correct challenge, 25 seconds available, suspenders starting now.

PM: Albert Pierpoint, the last hangman in Britain, could judge a man's weight by simply shaking hands with him. And what he would do on the night of a hanging, would knock on the former prisoner's door and shake his hand...


NP: Ah Graham challenged.

GN: He said hello again. He shook his hand too many times.

NP: Shake.

GN: Yeah, shake...

NP: That's right.

GN: Shook. Hand. The!

NP: Yes you are right Graham.

SH: And hanging.

NP: Suspenders back with you, 12 seconds starting now.

GN: Suspenders are sort New Zealand er backpackers who love...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: A bit of a hesitate.

NP: Yes.

SH: He had an er.

NP: It was a bit of a hesitation.

SH: You're not very good on suspenders are you Graham?

GN: No!

NP: No, Sheila you had a correct challenge, you've got seven seconds, suspenders starting now.

SH: When I was very young, you learnt to wear stockings with suspenders...


NP: Ah Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of stockings.

NP: You said stockings before.

SH: Did I? Oh!

NP: Yes unfortunately you did. So Paul's got in with a sharp challenge there, four seconds to go, suspenders with you Paul starting now.

PM: Some people think the finest suspender material in the world is undoubtedly concrete...


NP: Whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point, on this occasion it was Paul Merton. So with the other points in the round he's gone one ahead of Clement Freud into the lead, followed by Sheila Hancock and Graham Norton. And the next subject I'm going to give. It's to you Sheila, it's er my inner child. Something warm and touching. Will you talk on that subject for 60 seconds starting now.

SH: Well this a subject that I do know a bit about, because I spent quite a lot of time coming to terms with my inner child. I went to groups who told me that owing to the fact that I'd had a difficult childhood, that was why I was a vile adult. And if I could only come to terms with the fact... oh I've done that twice!


NP: Yes you have. Right Graham, your light came on first, so we're going to hear about your inner child now.

GN: Great!

NP: And there are 41 seconds starting now.

GN: My inner child appears to be very hungry. Yesterday he ate 25 party sausage rolls! I wish i was joking but no! Savaged them down! He's also a little unruly and often doesn't tidy my stomach properly! And I don't know what he gets up to sometimes...


GN: And I'd better stop!

NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: He doesn't know what he's talking about!

GN: No, you're quite right!

SH: It's nonsense!

GN: Right!

NP: Well the, the amusing thing in Just A Minute is as long as you keep going and don't hesitate, repeat anything or deviate, you, you don't need...

SH: He went (makes gibberish sound with tongue).

GN: No I didn't!

NP: No!

GN: I never did that!

SH: When you hear the recording you'll hear that you went (makes gibberish sound with tongue).

GN: And Sheila, I'll phone you and apologise. But for now, I don't think I did that!

NP: And actually Graham, I don't think you did either. We're still with you Graham having got another point, 25 seconds starting now.

GN: My inner child is obsessed by, and an expert on, suspenders. That child can rant on for hours about the difference between a garter, who'd confuse that? With the thing that can be wrapped around a woman's thigh...


GN: And I've forgotten what that's called...

NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of thigh.

NP: You had the thigh before.

GN: In the last round.

NP: Yes that's right, in the last round. You didn't have it in this round, you know.

PM: No!

GN: We'll, we'll fill this hour-long special quite quickly if we can't repeat words we've said in our lifes!

NP: No, no! I think it was the mere mention of the word thigh, and Clement came to life and so... So an incorrect challenge again, seven seconds still with you, my inner child Graham starting now.

GN: My inner child is called Robert, but I call him Bob, because we're kind of close...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: No, I was going to... call and called, it's two different words, in fact. I was trying a different interpretation of the rules.

NP: Called and call, yes.

PM: Yes.

NP: He cleverly said recalled and called, yes. So either he did it deliberately to confuse you and get a point, I don't know, or...

PM: Why don't you ask him?

NP: Did you? Did you do it deliberately...

GN: Of course not!

NP: No he didn't, obviously you can tell from his face. So three seconds still with you Graham, surging forward, my inner child starting now.

GN: My inner child is called Shirley. She started life...


NP: Paul.

PM: Repetition of called.

GN: Oh know he called! (laughs)

PM: Clearly I'm psychic!

NP: Yes! But you...

GN: I did that to confuse you!

PM: Yes! I was confused.

NP: I could see all your thumbs going on your buzzers at the same time. But the one that presses infinitesimally ahead of the others gets the light in front of me and it was Paul. So Paul you've got in with one second to go on my inner child starting now.

PM: Seafood...


NP: So Paul got another point for speaking as the whistle went, and other ones for that round. He's still in the lead. But Graham Norton got a lot of points in that round, he's only in second place, only one point ahead, but then Clement Freud, two points behind and then Sheila Hancock three points behind. And Clement it's your turn to begin. The subject here is auld lang syne. New Year's Eve is just gone. And we're going to sing, no we're not, we're going to hear Clement talk about auld lang syne starting now.

CF: If someone were to ask me "should auld acquaintance be forgot?" on the whole I would say yes! Auld Lang Sign is on the Carlisle Road and is a post which directs you to Auld Lang. I've never myself...



NP: Paul.

PM: Hesitation. He stopped. Did you hear it Nicholas? He stopped.

NP: No, for once I wasn't concentrating. I was getting a message and so er I don't get many...

PM: From the other world? Does the name Elvis Presley mean anything to anybody here?

NP: It was coming from another world in the sense it was from our producer in the box and so I didn't concentrate for a moment. I have to ask you to be honest, Clement. Did you pause?


PM: No you're wrong, I was mistaken!

NP: Yes bad luck, he couldn't...

CF: Yes I did.

NP: He struggled to be dishonest which I think is a great quality. But Paul you, you have the correct challenge and you have 38 seconds, auld lang syne starting now.

PM: Well I very much agree with what Clement said.


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: I was sensing a hesitation.

NP: And you got it right. And you've got the subject, auld lang syne and 35 seconds starting now.

GN: Auld lang syne is a traditional Scottish expression...


NP: Ah Paul challenged.

PM: Slight slur of the words there.

NP: There was a slur.

PM: There was a slur, did you notice it Nicholas?

NP: I noticed it.

GN: Sorry, at the beginning of the show did anyone mention no slurring?

PM: Yes that's a sort of hesitation.

GN: But that was...

NP: I don't think a slurring is hesitation. I think if you, if you elongate to the extent that it does sound like hesitation, I would give it. But on this occasion I think I will...

PM: So slurring's allowed?

NP: No, gentle slur.

PM: A gentle slur is allowed? So what's the...

GN: And also it is traditional to slur the word Scottish.

PM: Yes.

GN: There is.

NP: Graham you have the benefit of the doubt, you have 33 seconds, you have auld lang syne still starting now.

GN: Auld lang syne is a Celtic expression meaning "can I have the number for the local minicab please?" Certainly that seems to be the only useful thing it could mean on New Year's Eve...


GN: I said mean twice.

NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Ah well Graham got there just before me. He said mean twice.

NP: You said mean before.

GN: Yes.

NP: You did, correct challenge Paul, 22 seconds available, auld lang syne with you starting now.

PM: Well I haven't really got anything to what Clement added.


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of Clement.

NP: Yes! (laughs) he never goes for the obvious. Well done Clement, 19 seconds, auld lang syne's with you again starting now.

CF: I haven't really got much to add to what Paul Merton said.


NP: Sheila Hancock challenged.

SH: Well he was obviously going to stop. And anyway if he hasn't got anything to say, I'll say something!

NP: Well he didn't... if I'm going to be scrupulously fair, he didn't actually stop at that point.

PM: No he didn't.

SH: No!

NP: So really to be fair, and I must always be fair to everybody.

PM: Yes.

NP: Clement it's another point to you and you carry on if you want to, 15 seconds, auld lang syne starting now.

CF: What Sheila Hancock was going to say was that auld lang syne...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of say.

NP: Yes you did say say before.

PM: Say Paul Merton, say Sheila Hancock.

NP: Yes. That's right. You don't need to emphasise it Paul, I did hear it. Eleven seconds, it's only once I stopped listening, and er...

GN: But it was for 35 years!


NP: Oh they are all wicked! And you rotten lot out there applaud him! Paul, 11 seconds, auld lang syne starting now.

PM: I think many perhaps and han, hang on...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: I wasn't understanding it.

NP: No, nor was I. I think we call that deviation from English as we understand it.

CF: I call that a gentle slur!

PM: Yeah that's what it is!

NP: No, there was no slurring, it was completely unintelligible.

PM: As opposed to slurring?

NP: As opposed to slurring.

PM: Slurring is intelligible?

NP: Ah no you can...

PM: I'll just write it down. "Slurring is intelligible, new rule!"

NP: if you happened, if I was to say Paul Merrrrrrrton...

PM: Yeah you'd be having a stroke!


PM: Yeah...

GN: And how unlucky would that be on this special night?


GN: It'd fill an hour though!

NP: Nine seconds, it's with you because I agree with your challenge...

GN: What?

NP: Yes...

GN: Oh yes, of course it is! It's auld lang syne, nine seconds starting now Graham.

GN: Auld lang syne, lest auld acquaintance be forgot...


NP: Paul...

PM: Haven't we had all this before? Auld acquaintance...

NP: No...

GN: Not by me!

NP: Not by him, it was Clement who talked about auld acquaintance.

PM: Oh I knew I'd heard it somewhere!

NP: Yes! Four seconds still with you Graham, auld lang syne starting now.

GN: As a child listening to this beautiful melody on New Year's Eve, I would...


NP: So Graham Norton with the subject and getting points on the subject including one for speaking as the whistle went has surged forward. But he's now in the lead, one ahead of Paul Merton and a few ahead of Clement Freud and Sheila Hancock in that order. And er in our audience we have the lovely Jenny Eclair. And Jenny's come to support us. She's supported us by being brilliant in the show on a number of occasions. The microphone is in front of her. Jenny would you please give a subject to Graham Norton.

JENNY ECLAIR: Oh sorry Graham, this is fiendishly difficult. Um speaking in tongues. Sorry darling, that shirt is so wasted on radio!


NP: I should explain to our listeners that Graham is wearing one of the outrageous shirts he wears in his television series, and um, in fact it's a complete see-through.

GN: It is not!

SH: It is! It is!

GN: You know Sheila Hancock was backstage going "I can see your nipples". I said "get away! Back off!"

SH: You can!

NP: Well I can see them from here Graham.

GN: Only because you're staring. It's covered in sequins.

NP: I know, but nipples covered in sequins are very exciting. Anyway this...


GN: Now I feel sick!

NP: Graham, speaking in tongues, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

GN: If you wish to be heard, I find that speaking in tongues isn't a great idea. As ears are specially designed for the listening bit of the head. However speaking in tongues can be a friendly, some might say overly familiar thing to do, especially if it's a stranger on the underground railway for instance. They ask for directions, and you reply by speaking in their tongue. They often misinterpret this as unwanted attention, nay even a sexual advance. I say "no", I'm simply being friendly in an Irish way. Because of course in the Emerald Isles from whence I come, my mother still lives there, thanks for asking, it is a beautiful way of chatting to someone while sipping some saliva. Oh it's hot in Southern Ireland...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: I don't think he knows what speaking in tongues is.

NP: It doesn't matter, he was keeping going without hesitation, repetition or deviation.

SH: What is he on about?

NP: Graham...

GN: Yes?

NP: I disagree with the challenge.

GN: Fine!

NP: So you still have speaking in tongues and you have eight seconds starting now.

GN: Speaking in tongues is something that occurred in the Bible when suddenly people could speak French, German and all sorts of languages...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Suddenly.

NP: Suddenly, you did say suddenly before when you were talking about you suddenly met this person there.

GN: I believe you!

NP: Yes! Clement's got in with three seconds to go on speaking in tongues starting now.

CF: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, that is...


NP: So Clement Freud was then speaking when the whistle went, and gained that extra point. And he's moved forward, he's just behind Paul Merton, and Graham Norton is still in the lead. And Sheila Hancock it's your turn to begin. Here's a nice subject for you, Nelson's column. Tell us something about Nelson's column in this game starting now.

SH: Well just up the road from here is Trafalgar Square which is being pedestrianised so that you can see Nelson's column even clearer. It is about a hundred and 80 feet tall. And Nelson himself is quite tall... ahhhhh!


NP: Paul challenged yes.

PM: Repetition of tall.

SH: Yes.

NP: Yes he was too tall, yes. In fact he is quite small when you look up there, isn't he.

SH: He's not! He's actually quite big!

NP: Is he?

SH: Yeah.

NP: Right, I'll look up there. I'll nip up there afterwards and have a look. Right, 45 seconds for you Paul, after a correct challenge on Nelson's column starting now.

PM: Police were called to Trafalgar Square late on Saturday night when the TV personality and radio host Nicholas Parsons was found attempting to climb the column. When he was arrested he said "I wanted to see if it was big or small". He was taken to Cannon Street Station where he was ah later...


NP: Ah Clement.


NP: Oh I know, you wanted him to go on that one, didn't you. Just because it was mocking me, wasn't it!


PM: (laughs) Don't ask a leading question, Nicholas!

NP: Twenty-six seconds Clement, Nelson's column starting now.

CF: Lord Kitchener who is a Calypso singer had a song about Trafalgar Square in which he says it epitomises, talking about Nelson's column, the nation's plight and epitomises it...


NP: And er...


NP: Oh you're doing it for all of them now! Isn't that lovely. Paul you challenged.

PM: There was epitomises twice.

NP: He was epitomised too much yes. And it's a word that hasn't been used much...

CF: I said epitomise and epitomises. Quite, quite deliberately!

PM: If he says he did it deliberately, you know, I'll withdraw if you want.

NP: I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I must say there was a touch of slur there so I wasn't... Twelve seconds, with you still Clement, Nelson's column starting now.

CF: The words I said before from a very great height. It rather loses the impact...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Ah hesitation.

NP: There was a hesitation yes. And this time you're in there Paul, more on Nelson's column, five seconds starting now.

PM: The pigeons used to fly around the top of Nelson's head and he was very upset by...


NP: Ah Paul was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, he's now one ahead of Graham Norton and three ahead of Clement Freud, and one or two ahead of Sheila Hancock. And er Charles Collingwood is in our audience who played the game for us in Edinburgh a couple of years ago. And of course a lot of you will know him better from The Archers as Brian.


NP: You can see we do have a Radio Four fan listening club here. They know what you're doing Brian, and they don't approve, but er...


SH: I do! It livens The Archers up no end! I like that!

NP: But as Charles Collingwood, would you like to give Clement Freud a subject.

CC: I would. I've been lucky enough to play Brian Aldridge for 27 years. And during the last 12 months Brian has had the most delicious love affair with Siobhan Hathaway which has produced a gorgeous little child. Clement would you be good enough to speak on the subject of holding the baby.

NP: Clement, it's holding the baby, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

CF: It is essential to hold it the right way up. And quite easy to find out where is what by the dampness at one end, and the hair which might be... tother...


NP: Sheila Hancock you challenged.

SH: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation Sheila. Holding the baby is with you and you have 46 seconds, tell us something about that subject starting now.

SH: I think I can honestly say that possibly the happiest times of my life have been when I've been holding the baby. Either my own or now my grandchildren...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Deviation.

NP: Why?

CF: Talking about babies!

SH: I only hold one at a time!

CF: You didn't make that clear.

PM: I was confused! I thought you were juggling with them! I was confused!

NP: Yeah I'm so reluctant Sheila to give it away...

SH: Don't you dare give it to them! That was an outrageous challenge, wasn't it!


NP: Right! So having been intimidated by our audience and Sheila Hancock, 36 seconds, holding the baby, Sheila Hancock starting now.

SH: Holding the baby is a great joy because they smell so lovely...


SH: And don't interrupt because they do!

CF: They smell... (laughs)


NP: Well Clement I won't allow it because she was talking about holding the baby, and then she was using the collective phrase...

SH: That's right!

NP: ... they smell so lovely, about babies in general. But she didn't, she didn't repeat the word or anything else. No, no, no...

SH: No!

NP: No, I'm with you Sheila, you've still got holding the baby and you've got 31 seconds starting now.

SH: It's skin is as soft as a butterfly's wing. I'm always tempted to bite it because they are so deliciously sweet and gorgeous and...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: This is cannibalism! You can't go... on Radio Four, January the 1st, go around eating babies. What are they going to think of this in China, Nicholas? You're an expert. What are they going to think of this in China?

NP: Well er we do get the letters from China...

PM: You get the letters don't you?

NP: Yes they do get the letters. And er they do get confused by some of the traditions and mores of our...

PM: Well they'll think it's a tradition eating the baby over here! That's no good, is it?

NP: I think she conveyed that that's what she's tempted to do but she didn't carry through the action. That's the way I understood it.

PM: Are you sure?

SH: I do bite them actually!

NP: Oh my God! Here am I defending you Sheila and now you've put me right in it again.

SH: I bite it with love!

NP: I've heard many mothers say...

SH: Women know what I mean, don't you?

NP: I've heard many many mothers say...

SH: They're delicious!

NP: Yes every mother has said...

SH: Their little bums! Mmmmm!

NP: ... yes it's so delicious. I'd like to put my teeth in. I've never heard of a mother who has bitten their baby! So...

SH: I have!

NP: I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt again Sheila because we er...

SH: How much have I got now?

NP: You're getting lots of points darling...

SH: I know but how long have I got to talk?

NP: Twenty-one seconds.

SH: Oh my God! Surely I've talked longer than that!

NP: No, you've been interrupted most of the time.

GN: It'll be a teenager by the time you finish!

NP: Twenty-one seconds Sheila starting now.

SH: I have a particularly clever way to hold the baby which is going to be difficult to demonstrate on radio. But you sit it down...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: I thought I'd save you the trouble!

SH: I did try, I was going to try!

NP: It's another incorrect challenge, Sheila, you've got another point.

SH: Yeah right.

NP: Right, you're doing well right, 16 seconds, holding the baby starting now.

SH: Then you form a Y with your forefinger and thumb and put it under the baby's chin and pat its back. And you'll find that the burps come up marvellously rather than all that business of putting it on your shoulder because then it sicks down your back. This way...


NP: So Sheila Hancock...

SH: I'm so over excited, I actually ran out of breath then!

NP: I know!

SH: I nearly died on air!

NP: You obviously enjoyed the subject. And you managed to keep it with the generosity of some of, of the team, and you were speaking as the whistle went. You've leapt forward but alas, you're still in fourth place! But no, no, but it was a huge leap. She's only one point behind Clement Freud and only two points behind Graham Norton and three behind Paul Merton. So Helen Boaden, head of Radio Four, is in our audience, supporting us magnificently and doing a wonderful job of keeping the standard of Radio Four up to standard. And winning listeners all the time.

HELEN BOADEN: Just keep going Nicholas!

NP: Yes, well there you are. Helen have you got a subject you'd like to give to Paul Merton.

HB: Yes Paul, I'd like to know why Just A Minute has lasted so long.

PM: Paul can you tell her why Just A Minute has lasted so long in 60 seconds if possible starting now.

PM: Lack of proper entertainment in the rest of the country, most likely! When you're speaking on Just A Minute and you're given a subject, it may be hot air balloons, Venetian blinds, you start with confidence thinking I'm probably not going to get as far as a minute. But if I start elongating...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Bad thing, bad thing, bad thing!

NP: What's that?

GN: I, no, I thought he said start or something twice.

NP: He did say start.

GN: Oh he said start twice then.

NP: Right.

PM: No.

NP: Yes you did.

GN: Yeah yeah you did. Yeah!

NP: Graham...

SH: Oh you can see Graham's inner child all the time!

NP: Right...

GN: It's this shirt!

SH: It was a girl, was it?

NP: Yes I do think, in the nicest possible way, that er, your inner child is closer to the surface of your personality than most of us Graham. And that's one of the reasons they love you so much.

SH: Absolutely!

GN: I feel sick again!

NP: Um so it was meant to be a nice compliment...

GN: No, no, it was a lovely thing to say.

NP: Right, 44 seconds, you tell us something about why Just A Minute has lasted so long.

GN: The main reason Just A Minute lasts so long is because people keep interrupting! They... continually...


NP: Paul?

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes. Yes you interrupted. Right, why Just A Minute has lasted so long and 37 seconds available Paul starting now.

PM: It's extraordinary. I think because the actual way of playing it is capable of infinite variety. It's a bit like a game of draughts. It seems very simple first of all, the rules aren't many. But because of the personalities that play the game, they each bring...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of game.

NP: Yes you did repeat the word game before. So Clement a correct challenge, tell us something about why you think Just A Minute has lasted so long, 22 seconds starting now.

CF: I think it just seems long!



NP: Sheila has challenged.

SH: Hesitation.

NP: Yes it was hesitation but, but let's be fair to Clement, he paused for comic effect and the audience responded...

SH: No he didn't!

NP: Yes I think he did but I, I do give out bonus points on occasions. It was a very very good remark Clement. Give him a bonus point for that. And Sheila you get a point for a correct challenge and you have 19 seconds on why Just A Minute has lasted so long starting now.

SH: Without a doubt, it's because of the participants excluding myself of course. Kenny and Derek and Peter Jones and now the younger generation. It's a wonderful game for letting...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: She missed me!


SH: Ah!

PM: Clement, um, there's no easy way of saying this...

SH: (laughing) I was coming round to you!

NP: I think I have to give you the benefit of the doubt Sheila, and say you have another seven seconds, why Just A Minute has lasted so long starting now.

SH: And of course the wise and witty Clement Freud, and the fair and judgemental Nick Parsons. What would we have done...


NP: So it's now very very close and even as it should be in this special anniversary show! Sheila Hancock has moved forward, she's now equal in third place with Clement Freud, only one point behind Graham Norton, and he's only one point behind Paul Merton. Oh it's tension time, isn't it! They're not very tense, the audience! Steve Frost who's played the game with some acclaim in the past is in our audience. And Steve would you like to think of a subject or maybe you've thought of one, and give it to Sheila Hancock.

STEVE FROST: Ah good evening Sheila.

SH: Good evening.

SF: I'm a bit confused here, I came to see No Sex Please We're British tonight. I'm going to wait for Ronnie Corbett to come out! But anyway um my subject is what's wrong with a hairy chest.

NP: All right Sheila can you talk about what's wrong with a hairy chest, 60 seconds Sheila starting now.

SH: Well as far as I'm concerned, nothing's wrong with a hairy chest. But I do prefer one that isn't. Like Graham's, that's showing through his little lacey jumper...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Can I just say, I'm so pleased this has come up! You see, shirt not see-through, because chest is hairy!

SH: Is it?

GN: Yes!


GN: Thank you very much!

SH: Yes but they're little blondey hairs!

NP: I should explain to our listeners that that particular point and why the audience laughed was because Graham bared his chest to Sheila who had a very very close look. And what was the reaction Sheila?

SH: Well it's sort of palely hairy!

NP: I think...

GN: Hairy, none the less!

NP: In other words Sheila, you would not describe it as a truly hairy chest.

SH: No, I wouldn't.

NP: Right! Then you've got the subject still!

GN: Excuse me! I've placed personal ads! It's hairy!

NP: It may have hairs, but it's not hairy!

GN: Look! It's hairy!

SH: All right you can have the subject, I, I want to hear Graham on hairy chests!

NP: All right! She's been very generous, she said you have it, and you get the point now instead of Sheila. Fifty-three seconds, you tell us something about what's wrong with a hairy chest starting now.

GN: What's wrong with a hairy chest is that the hair is never content there. It seems determined to get to shoulders and back! There it lurks, growing up and you have to cut it like some sort of chilpary. I've got a hen and chickens on one shoulder, oh maybe I've said shoulder again, oh I don't know...


NP: Yes Paul.

PM: Repetition of shoulder.

NP: You did say shoulder. Paul you're going to tell us something about what's wrong with a hairy chest, 37 seconds starting now.

PM: Well you have to be careful, Steve, with a hairy chest. Because of friction. If you've got a rubber sheet and the alarm clock goes off and you get up quickly, you're liable to set your pillows on fire! I can tell this has happened to you, hasn't it! You told me about it, I remember, up in Edinburgh one year. He told me about that and it was extraordinary...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of told him.

NP: Told me about that.

PM: It's a public health warning! People should know!

NP: Clement another point for you, 23 seconds, what's wrong with a hairy chest starting now.

CF: I don't believe anything is wrong with a hairy chest. I have a hairy chest. My mother had a hairy chest...


NP: Sheila you challenged.

SH: No we've got to draw the line somewhere!

NP: That was deviation yes, I don't believe what he said about his mother there. And um 16 seconds, getting er, what's wrong with a hairy chest, starting now.

SH: There is nothing wrong with a hairy chest, because it isn't a sign...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Deviation.

SH: Actually I think I've said nothing again.

NP: I know you did, but don't say it...

SH: Ah!

NP: ... otherwise they'll get you for it.

SH: Well I quite...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Did she say nothing again?

SH: Yes!

NP: That's a retrospective challenge! I thought he was going to have you for that but he didn't. So er he interrupted you so you get a point for being interrupted, you keep the subject, what's wrong with a hairy chest starting now.

SH: Some people say it's a sign of virility, but I'm here to tell you from my own experience that is absolutely not true!


NP: Right er what's the score at the end of that round. Well er Sheila Hancock who was trailing a little while ago, she has now leapt forward gaining one for the whistle going as well, she's now in the lead!

SH: I...

NP: It's still very close though, she's one ahead of Paul Merton, and two ahead of Graham Norton and three ahead of Clement Freud. And it's Graham Norton's turn, and here's a very good subject. Um oh gosh it isn't so good! Confusing the chairman! Graham can you talk on confusing the chairman for 60 seconds starting now.

GN: Confusing the chairman in this game is not exactly a great challenge. No, the trick is to notice if you've done it! I don't know, possibly he's confused right now! Look at him, are his eyes glazing over when I say a word, I'm not sure! His hair's not moving, the jacket remains burgundy, the tie, oh my God! Where did you get that? In 2050, it'll be back in fashion! I think sometimes he's not confused, he's other things like asleep and...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: He actually said confused twice!

NP: Yes and he's deviating, I'm never asleep.

GN: Just napping!

NP: So Sheila yes, yes, a correct challenge, you have 28 seconds, confusing the chairman starting now.

SH: Well as we get older, it's much more difficult to be a chairman. And I feel rather sorry for Nick having to cope with this complicated game at his grand old age. Inevitably he's going to get a bit befuddled with the rules. Often he asks the audience which is the most irritating thing that he does when he's confused. "Let's ask the people out front" and they all...


NP: Um Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of ask.

NP: Yes ask the people...

SH: Yes.

NP: Yes. I'd have given it against you anyway! It was rotten!

SH: I was so clever changing the audience to...

NP: I've never spoken to the audience except to encourage them and say... Right! Er I wish this subject hadn't come up! Really! Confusing the chairman um Paul, with you, five seconds to go starting now.

PM: It's not a difficult task. Simple colour and movement usually does it. Come towards him quickly with a very striped shirt and he don't know where he is...


NP: So Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went and got that extra point. And he's now gone one ahead of the others. And Chris Neill is in our audience. Chris, who used to produce our show and is now doing stand-up comedy and has also appeared in Just A Minute with great style. Give a subject for Sheila Hancock, would you Chris?

CHRIS NEILL: I certainly will, thank you very much. Um I hope I haven't missed, in case anybody on the panel actually speaks about it, I hope I'm not casting aspersions. Um but I'm assuming that anyone on the panel is actually over and probably including you Nick as well...

NP: Mmmmm...

CN: ... is actually over the age of 35. And um...

NP: Just!

CN: Just, yeah! And I'm very pleased to report that I'm not! And er so my subject is what I was like at 35.

NP: All right well that's a good subject. Um a difficult one, but Sheila it's your turn to begin and er well actually he set for you. Sixty seconds starting now.

SH: Well it's so long since I was 35, that I can barely remember it! All I know is I was very confused and I had a four-year-old child whose bottom I bit on regular performances. And it was the swinging 60s so I spent quite a lot of time in miniskirts and carrege boots and Vidal Sassoon hair styles with a lot of sick down the front from the said infant...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of a lot of.

NP: Yes.

SH: Oh yes.

NP: There was a lot of unfortunately. But Clement you've got now what I was like at 35 and there are 39 seconds starting now.

CF: When I was at 35 Wimpole Street, I had a very heavily moustached upper lip. On the other hand... when...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: There was a hesitation Paul, you've got 30 seconds and you tell us something about what I was like at 35 starting now.

PM: Well it was an extraordinary time being 35. It was only about seven years ago but I can remember it as if it was yesterday. While I was running through the fields, the corn blowing in my ears, the dandelions over by the corner. And then suddenly...


NP: Ah Sheila Hancock challenged.

SH: Oh I thought he said corn again.

NP: He did, he had too much corn.

SH: But he said corner.

PM: Corn and corner.

SH: Corner, yes sorry.

NP: Oh did you say...

PM: Corn and corner, yes. Corn and corner.

SH: Yes, confused yes.

PM: The old corn and corner routine!

NP: You were going at such a pace...

PM: That's right.

NP: ... and you're a distance away from me. I should explain to our, our listeners that...

PM: That I'm senile!

NP: I'm in the centre...

PM: They're clapping in the wings, Nicholas! That's a bad sign!

NP: A classic Paul Merton...

PM: They're running a book that you can't get to the end of the show!

NP: You don't believe a word any of the four of them say about me! Secondly, they are two on one side and two on the other, and Paul Merton and Graham Norton are furtherest away. So it is sometimes difficult to catch exactly what they say.

PM: Yes.

NP: Because I haven't got feedback here.

GN: I wasn't speaking!

NP: You are speaking...

PM: It was corn and corner.

NP: It was corn and corner, I accept that.

SH: I heard that and he's even further away from me!

NP: But you bite babies' bottoms! I mean...

PM: Yes that's right!

SH: That's right, they'll all want to get letters about that!

NP: Eighteen seconds are available Paul for what I was like at 35 starting now.

PM: I don't think I was radically different at 35 to what I am now. Perhaps a bit more and maybe some less. There is an old...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Hesitation.

NP: Yes I agree with that hesitation.

PM: Dramatic pause I'm afraid.

NP: Dramatic pause to work out the rubbish you've just said.


NP: Isn't it interesting...

PM: It may be rubbish to you, it's a career to me!

NP: If they have a joke at my expense you applaud! If I make one at their expense you say "oooohhh!" Right, eight seconds with you Clement, what I was like at 35 starting now.

CF: When I was at 35 Old Kent Road, it was much more fun than when I was at 35...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: When I was.

NP: Yeah, when I was.

PM: Repetition.

NP: Well done Paul, well listened. Two seconds on what I was like at 35 starting now.

PM: I think if I ask you to picture a golden...


NP: In our audience we have the lovely Pam Ayres who is shortly going to be in one of our shows, I'm delighted to say. And she's come here today and she's got a subject which we would like you to give to Paul Merton. Pam...


NP: What would you like to ask Paul to talk on?

PA: Oh well I feel very nervous actually. As you can probably tell from my tremulous voice. Because having been asked to appear on the programme, and having now seen the cut-throat and murderous nature...

NP: I'll protect you Pam, don't worry!

PA: Will you?

NP: Yeah.

PA: Well in that...

GN: Run! Run, don't walk Pam!

PM: He'll protect you but remember he's clinging to life!

PA: It may only be protection in the short term then! Um but in, in view of my fears and apprehension, I would like you to ask you Paul, how to win points, even by underhand means, on Just A Minute.

NP: Pam can we condense that to how to win points on Just A Minute? And cut out the underhand means?

PA: Oh, ah oh all right then.

NP: You like that as well do you?

PA: Oh I wouldn't mind a bit of underhand means! Yes of course Nicholas.

NP: You want the underhand means in as well? All right then. Paul, the subject, is from Pam Ayres, how to win points, even in underhand means, in Just A Minute, and you have 60 seconds starting now.

PM: Well there's all kinds of intimidation you can play. You can suddenly stare at Clement, or perhaps he might stare at you. Or elongate...


PM: Oh!

NP: Clement challenged.

PM: He put me off! He put me off! I was intimidated Nicholas!

NP: Yes yes! And I should say to our listeners sometimes that does happen, they do stare at each other.

PM: It dies, it's underhand in my view.

NP: And it was definitely, and Clement you've, you've got in with a correct challenge, I didn't hear what it was.

CF: Repetition of stare.

PM: You didn't hear what it was?

NP: Of stare.

PM: Oh I see.

NP: I like to hear it from the person who challenges.

PM: Oh I see.

NP: Sometimes I get a different challenge which is not one I'd agree with.

PM: Ah.

NP: This is me being utterly unconfused.


NP: Thank you!

PM: Makes a change!

NP: There's no holding you back is there Paul? Right, 52 seconds Clement on how to win points even by underhand points in Just A Minute, 52 seconds available starting now.

CF: Quite a good way of doing it is change your name to Paul Merton. You will become enormously successful. And the great thing about this comedian, stand-up comic, who is sitting on my right, is that he has a hairy chest! Which means when sending shirts to a laundry there is an extra charge for extricating the hirsute....



NP: I'm sure our listeners imagination went with that one! Because Paul, by intimidating Clement by undoing his shirt and showing his hairy chest which the audience absolutely adored. I don't know whether it's the chest or the fact that Clement so assiduously kept going in spite of that. And Paul you challenged...

PM: Hesitation I'm afraid.

NP: I know there was.

PM: I was willing him all the way!

NP: And you, and you did win a point by underhand means. And but as that's the subject I've got to give it to you. Twenty-two seconds, how to win points even by underhand means in Just A Minute starting now.

PM: Another way is to use a word like corner and then a moment later say corners. And that is the singular and the plural of the same combination of letters. And the careful listener will discern from the difference that sometimes another member of the team, perhaps somebody at the furtherest end of Piccadilly which is quite a large stage we're on here, will say "I didn't quite catch that but perhaps it was..."


NP: So at the end of that round Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went, gained the extra point, and he's gone forward. He is in the lead but he's only four points ahead of Clement Freud. And I realise from looking at the clock, that we're moving into the last round. So I'm not utterly confused, particularly as a bigger... Right! Graham Norton is in third place, only one point behind, and only one point behind him is Sheila Hancock. It's still very close as we move into the final round. And in our audience we have the supremely humorous Ross Noble. And Ross we'd like you to give a subject to Graham Norton.

ROSS NOBLE: Oh right okay. It's a bit weird sitting in the front like this isn't it.

NP: Yeah.

RN: I feel like I'm driving the biggest cab in the world! There is one topic which we haven't really heard about which we should really cover I think. Could you tell us um 10 things you didn't know about Nicholas Parsons!

NP: Ross I thought you were my friend.

RN: That's why I only had 10 things!

NP: All right. Right Graham, that's the subject and I've got to go with it because he's thrown it at you. Ten things you never knew about Nicholas Parsons and there are 60 seconds as usual starting now.

GN: Nicola Parsons was born 90 years ago. A quiet girl, she didn't bother the other kids too much at school. Later in life she moved to Spain and became a cabaret artiste...


GN: That's what they called it in Spain!

NP: (laughing) Sheila challenged. Sheila your challenge?

SH: Well it was a bit of a hesitation.

GN: Indeed it was.

NP: A big hesitation.

SH: Don't worry, I won't have 10, 10 things about Nicholas so you can get it back.

NP: Right, 10 things you never knew about Nicholas Parsons, Sheila and there are 47 seconds available if you want it starting now.

SH: Well I think everybody knows everything about Nicholas. I mean, there he is. He's got grey hair and he wears a blazer and a smart tie and he chairs Just A Minute, and he appears in rude shows occasionally. And he's married...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: Repetition of he's.

NP: A lot of he's I'm afraid.

SH: Yes! Good!

NP: Paul you've got in on a number of he's. There are 33 seconds, 10 things you never knew about Nicholas Parsons starting now.

PM: Apparently he used to be in show business. You look at him now and think surely that is not believable. But yes if you go back through the mists of time, Tommy Handley, It's That Man Again, Nicholas was the man.... oh no!


NP: Um Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Ah repetition.

NP: Twenty-one seconds, 10 things you never knew about Nicholas Parsons starting now.

CF: Ten things would be blind, paralytic, insensible, wears a wig, puts his teeth into a bucket by his bed...


NP: Sheila you've challenged.


NP: Well I actually challenged you then Clement!

CF: Ask, ask the audience!

PM: Yeah! Where do you think he puts his teeth?

NP: They are stuck in my head! And have been since a child. Ah Sheila you challenged there.

SH: Well you made me!

NP: Don't you think he was deviating?

SH: No, I don't think he was deviating!

NP: Oh my God! You don't think so? Clement they don't think you were deviating. I've never heard such devious rubbish in my life! But Sheila doesn't want to accept it so you take the subject still, you get a point for that and you have er six seconds starting now.

CF: Is 90 though he looks younger, but his son lent me his bus pass so I know...


NP: So as I said before, this was to be the last round and I'm afraid that that is the end of this particular anniversary show of Just A Minute. Let me give you the final score because a lot of people are very interested in it because the contribution from all of them was absolutely magnificent. And we had two equal in third place, which was Graham Norton and Sheila Hancock. They came third in a very strong, very powerful third position. And in a very strong position was Clement Freud, in second place. But only two points ahead of him was Paul Merton. So we say Paul you are the winner of our anniversary show! As we have no more time, we've been running 35 years, I would like in conclusion to give a few very personal thank-yous. I would like to thank some of the people who are no longer with us, but have helped to make Just A Minute such a fun and exciting show, Derek Nimmo, Peter Jones and Kenneth Williams. And of course the wonderful Ian Messiter who devised the programme. I'd also like to thank tonight's guest setters, in alphabetical order, Pam Ayres, Helen Boaden, Gyles Brandreth, Charles Collingwood, Jenny Eclair, Steve Frost, Malcolm Messiter, Chris Neill and Ross Noble. And finally and our thanks to our magnificent and wonderful team, that is Paul Merton, Graham Norton, Sheila Hancock and Clement Freud. A special round of applause for them please! I also want to thank the lovely broadcast assistant Claire Bartlett who has helped me keep the score and blown her whistle with such style. We also thank our producer-director who gives us such encouragement, that is Claire Jones. And we are very grateful to this lovely audience and the fans who have followed our show religiously for 35 years! Right! Please continue to do so and see you back when we have our next anniversary. From our audience, from me Nicholas Parsons, from the panel, and from everybody else, good-bye, tune in when we next play Just A Minute!