NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: 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. But also to welcome to the show four experienced, talented and clever players of this game. We're delighted to welcome back that master of improvised comedy and repartee who's shone in this show so often, that is Paul Merton. He's sitting on my right with the man who's been in the show longer than anybody else on the panel, that shows his wit and literacy nearly every time he speaks, and that is Clement Freud. And on my left we have we have one of the icons of the entertainment profession, she's been with us so long that she's you know, starred in so many comedy shows we can't remember them all, and that is Wendy Richard. She's just escaped from her soap. And beside her sits one of the new stars on the comedy firmament, the lovely Liza Tarbuck. Would you please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Janet Staplehurst who's going to help me keep the score, she'll blow the whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And as usual I'm going to ask our four players of the game to speak on the subject that I give them, and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And this particular show is coming from the Drill Hall, and we're just off the West End of London. And we have a fantastic, cosmopolitan audience drawn from every part of this great metropolis. Anyway they are ready to cheer us on our way as we begin the show this week with Paul Merton. Paul, the subject I have in front of me is why I never use cockney rhyming slang. You have 60 seconds as usual, tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PAUL MERTON: It was of course invented by the Duke of Clarence, the well-known pub in the East End. The reason why I don't use cockney rhyming slang is because I don't particularly understand it. I don't know anybody that does. If I was to say to a friend of mine "how's your plates?" they would react in a strange incomprehensible way, because they would not know that I was referring to the state of their feet. This, I think, is the problem with cockney rhyming slang. Quite often the... slang... haha, I nearly hesitated but I didn't...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: Deviation from cockney rhyming slang.

NP: Where?

CF: He hesitated!

PM: I think, I think it was repetition of ha!

NP: Yeah! Your first challenge was deviation which I couldn't allow.

CF: Ah.

NP: So I'm afraid if you'd gone for the hesitation, it would have been different.


NP: Liza it's too late darling.

LIZA TARBUCK: Hesitation.

NP: Yes.

LT: It's too late?

NP: It's too late, no, the first challenge I have to accept. And he wasn't deviating so Paul you still, you still have the subject, you get a point of course for an incorrect challenge and you carry on with why I never use cockney rhyming slang starting now.

PM: Up the apples of course refers...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of of course.

NP: Yes. That is right, quite early on, while you said it, of course...

PM: Did I?

NP: Yes, right at the beginning you said "of course I never use it very much because..."

PM: Yes.

NP: And Clement's got in there. And Clement Freud has got in with a correct challenge so he gets a point for that. And he takes over the subject, there are 29 seconds available, why I never use cockney rhyming slang starting now.

CF: The reason I never use cockney rhyming slang is predominantly because I am not a cockney. Similarly I do not wear Chinese clothing in view of the fact that I do not come from the Orient. Nevertheless when in Beijing some years ago I enquired...


NP: Wendy Richard challenged.

WENDY RICHARD: I think um Clem's starting to deviate somewhat.

NP: I think he has, I think he has deviated. He's got away from cockney rhyming slang into the Orient and talking about the clothes he wears and everything.

PM: He could have been talking about Leyton Orient? We don't know, do we?

NP: Right, I still think he was deviating. So Wendy, a correct challenge, a point to you and there are 11 seconds, you tell us something about why I never use cockney rhyming slang starting now.

WR: I never use cockney rhyming slang, even though the programme I am currently appearing in is supposed to be about these East End people. In fact no-one ever uses cockney rhyming...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Wendy Richard and therefore she is in the lead at the end of the round. Liza, I'd like you to take the next round. And we have in front of us red tape. So can you tell us something about red tape in this game starting now.

LT: Red tape is obstructive official procedure that is formal or sticks rigidly to certain rules that might be deemed non-common-sensical. For example, if I were to dig up the road outside the Drill Hall today, I would ask the Gas, the Electricity, the TV, the Broadband, all of them, to get together and put everything in the same hole. Now red tape would bind me into waiting...


NP: Wendy challenged.

WR: I think you might be struggling a wee bit. And anyway they use red and white tape.

LT: Thank you.

NP: I think you were getting rather devious there. I really wasn't following your train of thought at all. I...

LT: Red tape! Stopping digging holes! Come on!

NP: They were, they were digging the holes and they were putting all that stuff into the holes.

LT: Who were?

WR: No, she's only pretend Nicholas! There wasn't a hole there at all!

NP: So what is your... listen! I'm supporting you Wendy! What was your challenge?

LT: My point is the lack of common sense!

WR: I've forgotten now! Anyway when they have holes and things like that, it's usually red and white tape, not red tape.

NP: It's often, often yellow actually, yes.

WR: No, it's yellow for a different sort of um utility....

LT: Crime scene!

WR: ... being dug up!

NP: Are we enjoying...

LT: It's going to be yellow tape in a minute!

NP: I kept this conversation going because of all the people who listen around the world...

WR: I know it's blue and white for police.

NP: ... who would like to know what happens when we dig holes in the road in our country! Ah all right Wendy has given in the ghost, and Liza you are still with it, you have a point for an incorrect challenge, you keep the subject...

LT: Thank you! (laughs)

NP: Thirty-two seconds, red tape starting now.

LT: It was a term coined in the 18th century because government ministers and lawyers used to bind their papers up with red tape or ribbon. Apparently Charles Dickens brought the ah phrase into common parlance...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: There was an er in there.

LT: There was an er.

NP: There was an er, there was a hesitation. Paul...

PM: It's a shame, I know! But I wouldn't have thought right about myself if I hadn't have challenged. Shame!

NP: You have red tape and you've got 19 seconds starting now.

PM: I like nothing better than getting a box of red tape and dressing it all around my living room. It adds gaiety to any occasion. Invite your neighbours round for a drink and they say "where is the alcohol?" "I haven't got any but look at this red tape!" It's beautiful, draped by the windows...


NP: Wendy challenged.

WR: Have we had more than one draped?

CF: No.

NP: No, it was taped, not draped, darling.

WR: Sorry, beg your pardon.

NP: That's all right.

WR: Sorry Paul.

NP: No, no, we like keenness, well done. Um there are only three seconds to go but it was a wrong challenge so Paul you have another point, three seconds, red tape starting now.

PM: The best thing about red tape, and I want you to know this, is that it's absolutely...


NP: So Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went got that extra point on the occasion, with others in the round, he's taken the lead now. He's ahead of Wendy Richard, and Clement Freud and Liza Tarbuck follow. And Wendy we'd like you to take the next round, the subject is pulling power. I'm sure you've got a lot of that and you've displayed it on many occasions, but tell us it about now in this game starting now.

WR: The best form of pulling power is to have power. Once one is in such a position, you can pull anything or anyone who you... desire...


WR: I've got a dry mouth.

NP: Liza challenged.

LT: That was a dry mouth, wasn't it.

WR: Yes it was.

LT: And a hesitation.

NP: That's right yes and we'd like to hear from you on pulling power, Liza, and there are 49 seconds available starting now.

LT: Pulling power can best be used when in a pub and standing behind a pump, and gradually easing, maybe, the Guinness back, pouring it with a glass slightly tilted, and easing it in. Now it takes...


NP: Wendy challenged.

WR: Two easings.

NP: There was too much easing, my love.

LT: Oh easing! There'll be a lot of that!

NP: So Wendy, you've got pulling power back and you have 36 seconds to tell us something about it starting now.


NP: And er...

WR: Listen! You're always doing that to me on this programme! You are at least allowed to draw breath before you start!

NP: No, no, no, Wendy, actually in this game I always give a pause before the now, so they can draw the breath before that and I say "you start.... now". So everybody goes straight off or otherwise they will be in like knives. And I'm afraid it was a long pause...

CF: It was a long time.

WR: Well I have to take a big breath!

NP: So Clement I have to agree with you and you have the correct challenge, 35 seconds on pulling power starting now.

CF: I always remember Wendy Richard in The Strongest Man series, in which she pulled a double decker, number 159 bus, up Primrose Hill, holding the...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: One-five-nine doesn't go up Primrose Hill! It doesn't go up there! Goes, goes er to Brixton!

NP: Ah...

PM: And on to Stretton in fact!

CF: That's where she was pulling it!

NP: That's where she was pulling it! Paul it doesn't matter for what Clement was saying, because she could have been pulling the bus anywhere, any number. But we did enjoy your interruption so we give Paul a bonus point for that. And Clement, and Clement gets a point for being interrupted, and keeps the subject with 22 seconds available, pulling power starting now.

CF: Pulling power appears to be a woman usually, or occasionally man's ability to seduce either physically or even...


NP: Yes Paul?

PM: That was a hesitation.

NP: I'm afraid so.

CF: Oh I was only drawing a breath!

NP: I think you drew the breath because you wondered where you were taking the listeners on Radio Four at that moment. And maybe discretion was the better part of valour and you paused. Paul you have a correct challenge and 11 seconds, tell us something about pulling power starting now.

PM: Well it's all to do with perceived status I suppose. If somebody looks at you and thinks, oh he's quite attractive, because A, he has money, or B, he has influence, C...


NP: Wendy and Liza, your lights came on together.

WR: He has! Oh!

NP: So I don't know what we do on that occasion.

WR: You can have it!

NP: Liza she's given it to you so what is your challenge?

LT: Um repetition of he has, actually.

NP: Yes he did say "he has" twice, that is right. So Liza you've cleverly got in with two seconds to go, pulling power starting now.

LT: My friend Sara...


NP: Liza Tarbuck was then speaking as the whistle went, so gained that extra point and others in the round. She's now in second place behind Paul Merton, and Wendy Richard and Clement Freud are equal in third place only one point behind. Clement it's your turn to begin, the subject now is Eskimos. Tell us something about Eskimos now in this game starting now.

CF: If you're into blubber, igloos or rubbing noses with people of whom you're fond, I would recommend that you become an Eskimo as soon as you possibly can. Eskimos tend to live in the north of Canada, in Labrador, Greenland. And they are squat, not hugely attractive, with only limited pulling power. But they waddle about and they really enjoy snow for which commodity they have 27 different words. This is an interesting fact I read in Reader's Digest some months ago, when I went to my dentist. Eskimos in French are spelt not with a K as the third letter, but with a QU. An odd...



NP: Ohhhhhhhh! You haven't won friends with that challenge! Yeah!

PM: Is there a gas leak here?

NP: But you set it if if there is.

PM: Yes. It was a hesitation.

NP: It was a hesitation.

PM: I know!

NP: And he kept going for 52 seconds as well.

LT: Oooohhh!

CF: Boo!

NP: There's no justice in this game! He goes for 52 seconds, gets nothing. Paul gets in with eight seconds to go and we're going to get letters from Greenland about that I'm sure, about the description of those Eskimos. Paul it was a correct challenge so I have to give it to you within the rules of Just A Minute and say you have eight seconds on Eskimos starting now.

PM: There was a film made in 1922 called Nanook Of The North, and it was quite famous at the time for being the world's first documentary...


NP: So Paul Merton got another point for speaking as the whistle went, and has increased his lead. And it's his turn to begin as well, the subject now is how to tell the time in the dark. That's an interesting subject, give you a second or two to think about it, and you have 60 seconds as usual starting now.

PM: Well obviously you look to see where the sun is, in the sky. If it's not there, then you can presume it's night time! If you have a luminous watch, this will shine in the dark and indicate the time of passage that you are particularly enjoying at that moment. Or you can phone Tim. If he doesn't know the time, phone the speaking clock...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of phone.

PM: Yes.

NP: Yes of course, right.


PM: (laughs) Very good reactions from the audience all round here, I think!

NP: Well what is lovely is they're caught up in the content of the show...

PM: Yes! Just as well isn't it really!

NP: Yes!

PM: Stops them throwing things!

NP: Clement you've had a correct challenge, you have 44 seconds, tell us something about how to tell the time in the dark starting now.

CF: How to tell the time in the dark is an essentially simple process. Five to eight, you say, quarter past nine, 11 o'clock precisely. What is quite difficult if they're no light is to achieve the accurate time...



NP: Your round of applause there was for what you said Clement, but you paused. You sort of took your laugh and retired! Wendy got the challenge first.

WR: Oh sorry, I've forgotten what it was now. I thought it was hesitation.

NP: It was hesitation, yes he just retired from it all. So Wendy, you have 25 seconds, you tell us something about how to tell the time in the dark starting now.

WR: It's quite easy to tell the time in the dark. One just has to get an illuminated clock. Preferably one with the digits showing so then you can just read and find out where you are, timewise that is. The other way I tell the time in the dark is if I hear my dog Shirley start to go downstairs, then I know that I have to get up to give her her breakfast because she's very regular...


NP: So Wendy Richard was then speaking as the whistle went, has moved forward. She's now in second place, and, but just only one ahead of Clement Freud and Liza Tarbuck. She trails Paul Merton. And Liza your turn to begin, the subject now is twins. Talk about twins on 60, 60 seconds if you can starting now.

LT: The famous twins are of course Gemini. I have ah a twin in the back part of my family, obviously I mean the word ancestrally. My grandfather was one of a twin. One made it, one of them didn't. My granddad Barney is the remaining...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Did we not have granddad before?

NP: We did have granddad.

CF: Grandfather.

NP: Grandfather, was it?

CF: Yes.

NP: So it was granddad then, grandfather then. Forty-six seconds, another point to you by the way Liza for an incorrect challenge...

LT: I'm chuffed!

NP: Twins is still with you starting now.

LT: It's said that when the eggs form inside the mum, if one twin makes it and the other one doesn't, it's absorbed by the...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Sadly it's repetition of one.

NP: Yes.

LT: It is.

NP: Yes.


NP: No but that is the rules of the game! If we didn't play by the rules, there would be no game! We haven't just come for the content, we've come for the fun and the challenges. And ah 39 seconds Paul, a correct challenge to you, tell us something about twins starting now.

PM: It was a very popular film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny De Vito, the concept being because they didn't look anything like each other, what fun and hilarity would ensue when you realised these two disparate actors were in fact related - what are you taking your coat off for? By the fact that they were twins! And indeed they were! And what an hilarious film it turned out to be...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of film.

NP: Yes there was...

PM: Movie?

NP: No, not movie, no, you did say film. Clement, 20 seconds on twins starting now.

CF: I have grand-twins called Max and Harry who are very similar. And if people say are they identical, I have to explain that only one of them is. When you see them together it is extraordinarily easy to say which one is ah...


NP: So Wendy you challenged.

WR: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation.

WR: And ah I think we were coming up for repetition as well.

NP: Oh Wendy don't ladle on it darling!


NP: You've got in with four seconds to go very cleverly, you've got twins and you start now.

WR: Mollie Sugden's got identical twin sons. I can't remember their names but...


NP: So Wendy Richard with other points in the round and also one for speaking as the whistle went, has moved forward. She's now only one point behind our leader Paul Merton. And the other two are only a few points behind. And Wendy it's also your turn to begin, market traders. I don't know why that's been chosen for you. But maybe there is some connection which the people abroad won't know about, we all do. Tell us...

WR: Don't you worry, dear! It does go abroad! They'll know what I'm talking about!

NP: Oh dear, is it shown in India and...

WR: Yes!

NP: ... and ah China...

WR: Yes they learn to speak English watching our programme! (laughs)

NP: I was told they model their English on us in Just A Minute actually.

WR: (in posh accent) Oh really? Oh right! Well in that case Nicholas, I will try harder!

NP: Right! Mockery will get you everywhere! Right, you have market traders, you have 60 seconds starting now.

WR: This programme that I'm in, my family are market traders, IE, it was my father's market trading place, then my brother took it over, and now my son runs it...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Three mys.

NP: There were three mys.

WR: Were there?

NP: Yes I'm afraid there were, Wendy. Clement you have 47 seconds, tell us something about market traders starting now.

CF: I'm very fond of Bury Street Market in Soho, where my favourite trader has now gone because the Weights and Measures man has overpowered him with red tape. It's very sad because one used to get all kinds of cheeses, gorgonzola, bruyere, cheddar, cheshire...


NP: Wendy challenged.

WR: Look, he's listing again!

NP: I know he is!

WR: I heard him the other day, that's all he does is list!

NP: He does a lot of other things, he's very witty and clever in the show...

WR: I didn't say he wasn't, I'm just saying he lists!

NP: I know he does!

WR: If I can't pause for breath, he can't list!

NP: Wendy I'm sorry darling!


NP: They're only clapping your effrontery! You can't come in the show and institute a new rule! Anybody can list if they want to. Actually it's an extremely difficult thing to do, you try it some time.

WR: I will! Next time it's my turn, I'll have a list!

NP: And anybody can list, there's nothing in the rules that says you can't do a list. And Clement does it very skilfully, and he still has the subject and a point of course, market traders, 27 seconds starting now.

CF: In search of dairy produce, this good man in London W1 asked what I would like to have, and he said "let me give you a list". He said cream, milk...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of he said. He said and he said.

NP: He said, he said, right Paul. You got in there with 15 seconds, tell us something about market traders starting now.

PM: My favourite market trader is my local greengrocer. He sells apples, pears, bananas, pomegranates, grapes red and white, plums, cherries, nuts even, can you imagine? He sells apricots...


NP: Listing will get you everywhere! Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went again, he's increased his lead at the end of the round. And Paul your turn to begin, my bath time. That doesn't mean to say it's my bath time, Nicholas Parsons' bath time. You can take the subject any way you like, and talk about my bath time starting now.

PM: I like to have a rubber duck, which is of course cockney rhyming slang!


PM: What I do is I pour the hot water into the tub, light a scented candle, and lie back in the candle light infusing in the fumes. What a beautiful...


NP: Wendy has challenged.

WR: Did we have candle twice?

PM: Candle light.

NP: I couldn't hear what he was saying! No, no, he did say candle and candle light. I think the audience are still laughing at, but anyway, let's go on. Paul an incorrect challenge, another point, 46 seconds available, my bath time starting now.

PM: I think it's something that women generally are better at doing it than men. Because they tend to cover themselves in all kinds of beautiful smelly substances which create a lovely air of fragrance and relaxes you. Because after all we are some 85 percent water inside our bodies so what could be...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Speak for yourself!

NP: Paul it was an interruption, you have another point, 25 seconds, my bath time starting now.

PM: Nicholas Parsons' bath time is of course another matter entirely. He likes to pay Oriental boys 50 pounds a time to rub hot liquid into the back of his neck...


NP: Clement yes?

CF: Repetition of rub. Unless that was rhyming slang!

NP: I don't remember him saying rub before.

PM: I didn't say rub before.

NP: No, no, they smothered themselves in these ah substances he talked about, these nice smelly things. He didn't say rub.

PM: No, I didn't say rub.

LT: Just in your mind.

NP: No, you always look as if you're going to put me out of it but no, he didn't say rub. Seventeen seconds Paul...

CF: Rubber duck!

NP: Another point to you, my bath time....

CF: Rubber duck!

NP: ... starting now.

CF: Rubber duck!

PM: Ah I can't carry on at the moment because Clement keeps repeating "rubber duck" to me beside me. But I shall try and carry on. Perhaps he's involved in one of those CB radios that we used to have in the 1970s when you were a truck driver. And you used to transmit to other particular purveyors of those big heavy vehicles and say "hello..."


NP: So Paul Merton speaking again as the whistle went, he's increased his lead as we move into the final round. He's um three or four ahead of Liza Tarbuck and one ahead of Wendy Richard and Clement Freud who are equal in third place. And Liza your turn to begin, the subject, I'm sure it's been chosen specially for you, prejudice. Yes there's a television programme which has that title. And so Liza talk about it, 60 seconds starting now.

LT: Prejudice is opinion, formed before one is in possession of all the actual facts. It's generally based on inadequate ideas and in my opinion, all prejudice is fuelled by assumption. The biggest prejudice is ageism, followed by sexism, racism, homophobia. An amazing prejudice is middle class confidence, good looks, ugly looks, hair styles...


LT: Oh looks.

NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of looks.

NP: Too many looks yes, so Paul you've got 33 seconds, you tell us something about prejudice starting now.

PM: Well I think Liza put it very well. It is that kind of approach where you think you know something about a subject but you don't really pursue it in any great shape of form. And as she said, ageism is perhaps one of the biggest prejudices now. I mean, look at Nicholas Parsons, there he is, one of the few men alive who can remember the old Queen. And I'm not of course referring to the present incumbent on the throne, Elizabeth the second, I mean the First...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: He repeated she said. Quite a long time ago!

NP: In another round?

CF: No, no! He really did! I didn't want to speak about it for a long time!

NP: I think this is a Freud bluff, isn't it?

CF: No! No it really was.

NP: All right Clement, you have the subject, you have six seconds starting now.

CF: Pride And Prejudice is a book known to many people in this audience at the Drill Hall.



LT: Oooohhh!

PM: There was a gap where my buzzer was heard!

NP: Paul, your buzzer came in before the whistle.

PM: I think we heard Clement, buzz, whistle! Hesitation.

NP: There was hesitation there Paul, so you got in with half a second to go, no actually one second to go on prejudice starting now.

PM: It's terrible!


NP: So as I said that was to be the last round so let me give you the final situation here. Very fair. Liza Tarbuck, Wendy Richard and Clement Freud all equal, all finished up equal in second place. Wasn't that lovely! They all got the same number of points! They all gave their usual good value! But about seven or eight points ahead of them was Paul Merton, so we say Paul, you're the winner this week! It only remains for me to say thank you to these four intrepid and delightful players of the game, Paul Merton, Wendy Richard, Liza Tarbuck and Clement Freud. Also thank Janet Staplehurst who helped me keep the score, she's blown her whistle so delicately and delightfully. We thank our producer-director, who is Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this game. And we are also very grateful to this lovely audience here in the Drill Hall near the West End of London who have I hope, enjoyed themselves, but they've certainly cheered us on our way magnificently. From me Nicholas Parsons, from our audience, from our panel, tune in the next time we play Just A Minute!