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 great pleasure to welcome our many listeners throughout the world, those who tune in to Radio Four, the World Service, BBC7 or on on the Internet. Welcome to the show. And it's a huge pleasure to welcome the four exciting, talented and experienced players of the game who have joined us for this particular show. It's always a joy to have back that outstanding comedian, a stalwart of the show whose contributions are invaluable, that is Paul Merton. It's always a pleasure to have on the show a man whose contributions in the comedy world as one of our youngest great successful comedians, and a great contributor to Just A Minute, that is Ross Noble. It's also a pleasure to have someone who hasn't played it quite as frequently as the others but is so marvellous when he does, and is so successful up here in Edinburgh, that is Julian Clary. And always a pleasure to have someone who has been playing the game consistently almost since the day it started, in fact since the day it started, the ever resourceful Clement Freud. Please welcome all four of them! And as usual I am going to ask them to speak on a subject I will give them, and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviating from the subject. Beside me sits Janet Staplehurst, who is going to help me keep the score, she will blow a whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from Edinburgh. And we're in the Pleasance, the Pleasance Courtyard. And we have a wonderful festival Fringe audience in front of us who have queued ages to get their tickets! And they're just eager and excited to get going! They're absolutely, they're throbbing with it out there! So let's start the show this week with Clement Freud. Clement, the subject is breaking records. Tell us something about that subject in this game, starting now.

CLEMENT FREUD: I came up on a train from London which was indeed breaking records. It braked coming into Stevenage and then again applied the brakes on the way to Huntingdon. At Peterborough you'd be amazed how it broke. Doncaster, York, were other locations on which the driver applied the restrictive practices known as slowing down the train, where after we entered York, Dunbar, Edinburgh...


NP: Paul challenged.

PAUL MERTON: Repetition of York?

NP: Yes we've had York before.

PM: We've had York.

NP: Yes.

CF: Ah.

PM: Or was it one of those special trains that goes through York twice? It's a cheaper ticket! It takes longer, it's a cheaper ticket!

NP: It goes longer yes, it didn't get on to Newcastle. But anyway Paul, you have a correct challenge so in this game you get a point for a correct challenge. You take over the subject, there are 30 seconds available, breaking records, starting now.

PM: There's all sorts of dangerous records that used to be recorded in the Guinness Book of such things. But now a lot of them have been discontinued, because they were considered just a little bit too frightening for human beings to indulge in. For example, there was the record that I believe was held by Mister William Franklin of Gloucester, who managed to eat 47 pizzas in the space of 35 years. He didn't really like them very much. And so it was the slowest number of Italian food base ever eaten by anybody through ever out humankind...



NP: Wait a minute, Clement challenged just before the whistle.

CF: He has repeated eaten.

NP: Yes, he'd eaten, he'd eaten.

PM: It wouldn't be much of a record if he hadn't!

NP: But to be fair within the rules of Just A Minute, you did repeat it and Clement pressed his buzzer before the thing. It didn't win any friends for doing that but um, he's got a point for a correct challenge, he takes over the subject, there's half a second to go Clement...


NP: I know! Breaking records, starting now.

CF: Derek-upon-Tweed!


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Clement Freud and you won't be surprised to know that he is in the lead at the end of that round followed by Paul Merton, and the other two are yet to score. But Ross Noble, we'd like you to take the next round and the subject now is chipmunks. Tell us something about... I don't know why you laugh! It's quite a good subject to talk on. He's had a few seconds to think about it, start now.

ROSS NOBLE: Chipmunks are holy men that worship fried food! They have a special order in Scotland, funnily enough, where they gather themselves around a chippie, as it's known in these parts, or a friary, is another way....


RN: ... of putting the name of that particular place! Blah blah blah! Sometimes you might find that they get a small packet of crisps and scatter them around on the floor, dancing around with their holy robes all over the place, dancing like fools...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Two dancings, I'm afraid.

NP: Yes you had dancing.

RN: Was it not dance and dancing?

NP: No, no, everybody's tried that trick on me, but...

RN: I would have got away with it too, if it hadn't been for you, Merton!

NP: I'll tell you what I think we should do. Because in the middle of your delivery then, they gave you a round of applause for some particular remark you made. And I think that deserves a bonus point!

RN: It's quite good as well because it covered the fact I was just going blah blah blah!

NP: In this game you have to keep going through your applause, you can't play the audience, you know.

RN: But I repeated blah at least five times! Can I challenge myself and have another point?

PM: I thought it was an affliction!

NP: Anyway Paul you had a correct challenge, and there are 30 seconds still available. Tell us something about chipmunks starting now.

PM: There was a popular group in the 1950s in America called The Chipmunks. And basically it was a man who used to use speeded up human voice to give the impression that chipmunks were actually singing. Because chipmunks don't sing at all, they're a very quiet creature, nocturnal creatures in fact...


PM: Creature, creatures! What's your challenge? Creature, creatures!

CF: No, no!

PM: Let's see the colour of the challenge!

NP: No, no, no!

PM: Creature, creatures!

NP: It was in the singular each time, and Julian you got in first. Right...

PM: What? have you finally lost it?

NP: Julian, with your reputation, I'm afraid it's so difficult to say things sometimes!

JULIAN CLARY: What reputation?

NP: Right there are 18 seconds, we're going to hear from...


NP: No, that's not funny! Eighteen seconds for you to talk on chipmunks starting now.

JC: I was...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: No! You didn't even give him a chance to catch breath! An incorrect challenge Julian, you have 17 and a half seconds, chipmunks starting now.

JC: I've got an awful lot in common with chipmunks. We both like nuts and they have bulging cheeks! So apart from that, there's not a lot to say. They're little furry creatures that hop around and they climb trees. Although when I think about it...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: They don't strictly hop! They more scamper!

JC: Yeah, but in a hopping motion. I use the term loosely!

PM: Ask Nicholas! He'll know!

NP: Yes I do!

PM: Go on Nicholas, you know. Do they hop? Or do they just scamper? What do they do?

NP: Well I have to make a decision. They are capable of hopping and scampering and jumping and climbing. They are capable of doing anything. They're little chipmunks...

RN: Anything?

NP: Yes.

PM: Playing the trombone?

RN: Can they operate a lathe?

NP: Ah...

PM: Can they hold a career down in the Civil Service and get promotion?

RN: A small hat shop?

PM: Can they host a children's programme about barges?

NP: No! In physical movement, they can walk, run, hop, jump, climb trees, they can do the lot.

PM: I bet you wish you were a chipmunk, don't you? Get a chipmunk hosting this show, you'd get a better job out of it!


NP: I would normally give you a bonus...

PM: It's no good booing him! He's doing his best!


PM: Creature and creatures! I know what I'm doing! I've been playing this game for 15 years!

NP: Right Paul is working so hard for bonus points. Give him a bonus point because the audience enjoyed what he did. But...


PM: Thank you very much! I've got one friend!

NP: But Julian you were not deviating...

RN: I thought it was me that challenged.

NP: You challenged yes. But it was Julian who was speaking...

RN: Oh that's right.

NP: So it was an incorrect challenge. Paul got the bonus point because of what he did and said, you interrupted...

JC: Oh I've lost the will to live!

PM: I, he doesn't care about chipmunks! I had a lot to say about chipmunks, and the subject was taken off me!

NP: I have to...

PM: I did it for A levels!

NP: ... be fair within the rules of Just A Minute, do I give these... I don't want any more letters explaining I wasn't fair in a decision. So chipmunks is still with you Julian, and there are 10 seconds available starting now.

JC: They leap and scamper from tree to tree and...


NP: And ah Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of tree.

NP: There were too many trees, you mentioned tree before.

JC: Oh how silly of me!

NP: And tree yes.

JC: I should have known.

NP: No, it's so easy, that's a natural... what's happened Janet? Have we got a problem here?

JANET STAPLEHURST: The watch is going wrong!

NP: Gosh your watch is going wrong? Oh we can't have a, the stopwatch is going wrong. It's going all right now. Oh yes it's going the wrong way!

PM: Does that mean I've got infinity? To talk about chipmunks? Well I'm the man for the job! Keep going till 1957!

NP: Is it working again Janet? It's the first time actually Janet has spoken on radio since she's been with us for 12 years!


NP: And we've got six seconds on chipmunks with you Paul starting now.

PM: A nocturnal bisexual creature, they're very popular at parties. If you turn up at somebody's door, a chipmunk under your arm, you'll be welcomed in...


NP: So Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now taken the lead, he's one ahead of Julian Clary, who is one ahead of Clement Freud, who is one ahead of Ross Noble in that order. And Julian it's your turn to begin, the subject is my reputation. Sixty seconds starting now.

JC: I have a reputation as a bespoken nancy-boy, and renowned homosexual, which makes it particularly difficult when I go out to meet girls!


JC: I go around the discotheques! The other day I met a dental receptionist called Sonya. I invited her back to my luxury home called Show Business Lodge. She spread herself out on the sofa and then she said "hang on a minute! Aren't you that poof off the telly?" I said "no, you're mixing me up with someone else! Possibly um Dale Winton?" "No," she said, "I want you, I want you now, big boy..."



NP: I'm sure she said that, but unfortunately in Just A Minute, you can't repeat it. So ah just let me hear your challenge.

PM: Repetition of "I want".

NP: I want, yes right. Paul you've got in on the subject of my reputation with 27 seconds available starting now.

PM: Surly but fair, I think, is how a lot of people see me. I was once at the Comedy Store doing a show with the Players there. And I went down the steps about 20 minutes before everybody else. And somebody told me as they were following me down, another person said...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Repetition of down.

NP: Yes you went down the steps and then you went down. Right so Ross you got in on the subject and you have 15 seconds, my reputation, starting now.

RN: I have to protect my reputation as a dandy, and a man about town and have to cultivate it very heavily. Because I'm not! I'm essentially a bloke who sits around on a bean bag, eating miniature pizza biscuits in my house...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of around.

NP: Yes.

PM: Around town, sits around on a bean bag.

NP: Around town, I'm afraid so yes.

RN: Fair does!

NP: Fair does! So Paul's got in with ah... can I clear my throat? You can cut it out.


RN: Cut your throat?

PM: Let's have a show of hands! All those who want Nicholas to cut his throat, put your hands up!


PM: I've never seen... that's a forest! I call that a forest!

NP: I never thought the audience would be so mean! Do you want Nicholas to cut his throat and they all laugh! Oh dear! Paul right you have the subject of my reputation, three seconds starting now.

PM: Handsome, cheap, sultry, with a little hint of exotica...


NP: Paul Merton again speaking as the whistle went gained an extra point for doing so and um he's increased his lead at the end of the round. And Paul, it's also your turn to begin, the subject now is legends. Tell us something about legends in Just A Minute starting now.

PM: Legends is a night-club in Streatham. And I was there recently to see Sir Clement Freud's one man tribute to Robbie Williams! It was a fantastic night out! For me the highlight was undoubtedly (in very good impression of Clement Freud's monotone) "let me entertain you". (normal voice) I thought this was a wonderful piece of music...


PM: The crowd was stunned, it was fantastic! The dance routines, I've never seen anything like it, break-dancing's got nothing in it, oh it was...


PM: Dance routines, break-dancing, what's going on?

NP: Julian, Julian challenged.

JC: Yes was it repetition, or was it not?

PM: No. Break, dance, break-dancing, dance, break-dancing.

NP: Dance and dancing.

JC: No, I just thought it was time I spoke.

NP: Thirty-eight seconds on legends starting now.

PM: One of the greatest legends in the history of cinema...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Second greatest legend.

NP: Not greatest, it was great then.

CF: Greatest.

NP: Right.

PM: So are you challenging for non-repetition? It was a very good show, I don't know how you managed it actually.

NP: Actually I don't think he repeated greatest.

PM: No.

NP: I think he did repeat great.

PM: No.

NP: So he's right.

PM: Yeah very good, very good chairman!

NP: Right...

PM: Best chairman we've ever had on this show!

NP: Thirty-six seconds, Paul Merton, starting now.

PM: Buster Keaton was a silent film comedian who made a lot of movies in the 1920s. These days he is perhaps most remembered for a film called The General that was made in 1926...


NP: And Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of 20.

NP: Yes you did have the 20s.

PM: Twenties...

NP: Twenties.

PM: Twenties and 20. Aren't those two words?

NP: No...

PM: Two words, 20s, I mean that was...

NP: Nineteen twenty and that was 20 Paul.

PM: Well I mean 20 sounds like 20s, but it sort of stops, it hasn't got the ambition, 20 and 20s.

NP: Twenties and 20 are different.

CF: You said 1920...

PM: Yeah.

CF: And then you said 1926. It's a repeat of 20!

PM: Repetition of 19, but not of 20.

NP: Yeah. Clement you're persistent, you've got it, 26 seconds on legends starting now.

CF: There is a legend that Edinburgh used to be called Glasgow. This is not one to which I subscribe enormously, because Inverness, Aberdeen and St Andrew's, all have excellent claims to that honour. And I'm enormously proud to be here...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well this is absolute rubbish!

CF: Legends are rubbish, on the whole!

PM: Oh I don't think so. What about the legend of Robin Hood?

CF: Rubbish!

NP: So I think we've got to go, and give the benefit of the doubt to Clement, and say though I think it's utterly untrue, there could be a legend somewhere which says it is.

PM: Okay.

NP: I think it's strange but there we are.

PM: Okay.

NP: And we have to go, give the benefit of the doubt to Clement, 10 seconds, legends Clement starting now.

CF: The legend of Robin Hood is very popular. He and his religious adviser, the Spoonerist Friar Tuck, is very close to my heart. I've...


NP: So Clement Freud speaking as the whistle went gained that extra point. And he's now still in second place, but he's got points already. Julian Clary and Ross Noble following him, but Paul Merton still in the lead. But Clement, it happens to be your turn to begin and the subject now is courtesy. Tell us something about courtesy in Just A Minute starting now.

CF: When I was a boy scout many years ago, the laws of that organisation could be summed up as honour, loyalty, beauty, brotherly, courteous, kind, obedient, smiling, thrifty, clean in body and mind. Courtesy is what I was most keen on. Old ladies who didn't want to cross the streets hadn't a chance when I was there, in my uniform. I would push them over to the other side of the road while they protested. This was considered courtesy in the 1930s. I have not come across it a lot lately. Nobody stands up for me on a train. Hardly anyone on a bus, which could be because I don't use that kind of transport.


CF: That's enough!

NP: Paul you were the first to challenge.

PM: Ah hesitation.

NP: Yes indeed, a full stop actually. Right, 15 seconds, courtesy with you Paul starting now.

PM: I remember when I was travelling around Australia in 1987. I had broken my leg here at the Edinburgh Festival. And I had a walking stick and I was travelling about on buses. And I expected at least one person at some point to stand up and say "you can have my seat". But no, I had to hobble around that...


NP: So Paul Merton's going like the clappers and is now way out in the lead, ahead of Clement Freud, Ross Noble and Julian Clary in that order. And Ross it's your turn to begin, the subject is a sharp tongue. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

RN: A sharp tongue is one of the things with snogging robots! I've found on a regular basis, whenever I've been down the discotheque and picked up the Terminator, and we've found ourselves in an alleyway, oh the pain! You wouldn't believe it! Especially if you've just enjoyed a nice bag of chips and they're all vinegary as you're... putting your lovely...


NP: Julian you challenged.

JC: Did he trip over his words a little bit, and was that...

RN: Well I had a metal tongue in my mouth! Of course I would, it's all cut with a vinegary thing...

NP: No...

JC: Hesitation.

NP: No I don't think he tripped enough that we call that hesitation. He was dribbling a little on his words but they were coming out. And so no, you have the benefit of the doubt Ross, a sharp tongue still with you, 40 seconds starting now.

RN: My mother had a sharp tongue, but that's because it was made entirely of lemons. She was involved in a bizarre scientific experiment where they were trying to create the ultimate fruity human being. What happened was the scientists took some Jif and injected it into her leg. Unfortunately it seeped up into her head and came out in the tongue department! Who would have thought it, as she shouted at us as children, spitting that juicy substance towards us, landing on our tongues which had already been cut from doing lovely kissing with the cyborgs from the future. The agony was immense, I couldn't believe it! Get back...


NP: The agony...

RN: Is it all right if I have a lie down?

NP: That's right, the agony was immense is what you were talking about. The agony of keeping going under the pressure that exists in this game. Because you got just one point for speaking as the whistle went, and you're still in third place...


NP: I can't give him half a dozen points...

RN: And I'm not very well!

NP: He's still behind Clement Freud, but one ahead of Julian Clary, that's all. And Paul's still in the lead. And Paul it's your turn to begin, the subject now is gnomes. Tell us something about gnomes in Just A Minute starting now.

PM: Well it's the bum side of the fairy world, isn't it really, the gnome. It's not like a pixie or an elf. It's an ugly looking creature that sits at the end of your garden. I recently got married to the wonderful Sarah who collects chairs. I don't know why she goes to these auctions and buys so many of them. We've got about 34 of them at the moment, all different types, none of them match. But the gnomes...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Three thems.

NP: Oh yes, sharp challenge! Oh yes it got one of those sort of...

PM: Your Robbie Williams show was rubbish! More like Shirley Williams! It was, wasn't it! I walked out halfway through!

NP: Well at least the same political party anyway. Ah Clement, a correct challenge, 42 seconds, gnomes starting now.

CF: Gnomes is spelt with a G, after which...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well not just with a G! There's an N, there's an O, there's... I could go on!

NP: I know but let's be fair. He said spelt with a G, but we didn't know whether he was going to go on sat N-O-M-E-S or not. So...

PM: There was a hesitation there, definitely.

NP: That's too late now Paul. You can't have secondary challenges.

PM: Wasn't that implicit in... oh well, it doesn't matter, I tried.

NP: What I'm going to do because the audience enjoyed what you said, we give you a bonus point for that...

PM: Mmmm.

NP: Clement keeps the subject for being interrupted...

PM: Yeah.

NP: He has gnomes still and 38 seconds starting now.

CF: A...


NP: And you've challenged.

PM: Hesitation!

NP: Absolutely right! I think Clement was being generous and made sure he did hesitate so in you go, on 37 seconds, gnomes with you Paul starting now.

PM: Gnomes don't have any nipples. I don't know why that should be...


PM: ... because in other ways they're perfectly physically anatomically correct creatures. What wonderful beings they are. As they sit there near the compost, looking up with their beady little eyes, sometimes holding a fishing rod, sometimes doing impressions...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Two sometimes.

NP: Two sometimes yes. I don't think you should clap, unless it's Paul, because I must explain to our listeners Clement who is sitting beside Paul was looking at him with his finger on his buzzer right under his nose, intimidating him. But he did very well to keep going...

PM: I wouldn't do that!

NP: Mmmm?

PM: I wouldn't do that!

NP: No, not in this show.

PM: Not in this show.

NP: Right. And Clement you have the subject, and you have 22 seconds, gnomes starting now.

CF: If someone were to ask you what...



NP: Audience, this is radio, so I have to explain. Paul intimidated Clement even more by undoing his shirt front! In fact they were all intimidated, including the audience! They were all shouting at the back "do it up again, please!"

RN: He hasn't got any nipples!

PM: I am, I am a gnome!

NP: And Ross you were the one to challenge first, hesitation, yes indeed that's right. And 19 seconds for you on gnomes starting now.

RN: They sit there with their beards and their little fishing rods. In fact they survive entirely on a diet of seafood. Not many people realise that Captain Birdseye was in fact from gnome stock. He had that particular facial hair but sadly he grew too big and was cast aside and forced to travel the seven seas, lying his...


NP: So I don't think a round has ever gone so long in its life before! Ross Noble speaking as the whistle went, with other points, he's er now equal with Clement in second place, a few ahead of Julian Clary and one or two behind Paul Merton who is still in the lead. And that is the situation as we go into the final round. Clement it's your turn to begin and the subject now is fighting the flab. I don't know why they've given it to you, but talk on the subject if you can starting now.

CF: Flab I believe is an acronym for Federation of Lithuanian Accordion Bands. Or possibly Fraternity of Latin American Bastards. Also if you think about it, flab is avoir du pois, it is the extra weight, possibly around your waist and chin. And Doctor Atkins is currently the man to fight it...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Isn't he dead? Didn't he die about six months ago? He can't be currently the man to fight it.

CF: Yes.

NP: Well I think actually colloquially speaking, he was conveying the Atkins Diet is probably the way to fight it. So I think we have to give him the benefit of the doubt...

PM: Okay.

NP: ... because I understood what he meant.

PM: Yes.

NP: He didn't actually specifically say Doctor Atkins...

PM: Atkins is the man to fight it! He didn't actually specifically say that! No!

NP: He didn't specifically...

PM: He didn't specifically say Doctor Atkins is the man to fight it! The fact he's dead, you didn't understand that, that's fine!

NP: No, I understood it Paul...

PM: I mean he's losing weight day by day! I agree!

NP: I understood it Paul...

PM: You understood it?

NP: Yes yes.

PM: Is that the litmus test, is it?

NP: Yes. Paul, no he didn't say that Doctor Atkins was dead. I mean we...

PM: I...

NP: .... know he's dead.

PM: I know! He said Doctor Atkins is the man.

NP: Is the man, right. He meant the Atkins Diet, I understood that, the audience understood it, the listeners probably understood it. I'm sorry you didn't understood it. Clement you have the subject, you have 35 seconds and a point of course, fighting the flab starting now.

CF: As the audience understands it so well, there will be no need for me to elaborate on the good medical physicians, American, ideas of losing... pounds...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: That was a hesitation.

CF: That was.

NP: That was a hesitation.

CF: Yup.

NP: You got in Paul, so you want it, and you want the subject I mean. And you want, 24 seconds, fighting the flab starting now.

PM: I question the acronym Federation of Latin American Bastards. Because I think if you were of that type, why would you join a club? Surely that's something you want to keep quiet. If you were born in Peru and you didn't...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Aren't we deviating from the subject?

NP: Yes indeed you are. Right...

PM: It's a, it's a lottery this, isn't it really!

NP: It's a delicate decision for me every time but I have to...

PM: Yeah, you always get it wrong!

NP: I try to be fair within the rules of Just A Minute and to be fair to everybody. And Julian you have the benefit of the doubt if there is one and it is fighting the flab, 14 seconds starting now.

JC: One of the most successful ways to fight the flab is to exercise. Get up in the morning, put on a pair of jaunty shorts, and some shoes and socks, and hop round the block on one leg. You'll soon find your sweat falling from your brow and the calories will...


NP: So as I said a moment ago we have no more time to play Just A Minute, that was the last round. And we finished up in a very interesting situation. And that is that Clement Freud, Ross Noble and Julian Clary are all equal in second place. You are no doubt clapping their contributions which is more important than the points they gain. But Paul Merton did get more points again so he finishes up with what we call the winner, a round of applause for Paul Merton! And it only remains for me to say thank you to these four fine, exciting and intrepid players of the game, Paul Merton, Ross Noble, Julian Clary and Clement Freud. I thank Janet Staplehurst who has helped me keep the score, she has blown her whistle so delicately. We thank our producer, Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this game. And we are deeply indebted to this lovely audience here at the Pleasance on the Fringe in Edinburgh who have cheered us on our way. They seem to have enjoyed it, we have enjoyed it. From me Nicholas Parsons, from our audience, from our panel, good-bye, tune in the next time we play Just A Minute!