starring PAUL MERTON, CLEMENT FREUD, GREG PROOPS and DARA O'BRIAIN, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 1 September 2003)

NOTE: Dara O'Briain's first appearance.

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 immense pleasure to welcome our many listeners who tune in to Radio Four, the World Service, BBC7 and also of course on the Internet. All around the world, welcome listeners. And also it's a huge pleasure to welcome the four talented, exciting and outstanding personalities who are going to play Just A Minute today. It's always a pleasure to welcome back that supreme comedian, one of the stalwarts of Just A Minute, who is back with us again, and that is Paul Merton. We also have one of the stalwarts of the game, in the sense that he's been with us since the show began, one of the most consistent regulars, the ever resourceful and entertaining Clement Freud. And we have with us someone who's only been with us once or twice before, but has been so successful we're thrilled to have him back, an American, a stand-up comedian who works a lot in this country now, that is Greg Proops. And we also have someone who has never played been on Just A Minute before, so that is a challenge for him, and he is an outstanding comedian who is doing very well in Edinburgh this year. He comes from Dublin originally, he now works mostly in this country, and that is Dara O'Briain. Please welcome all four of them! 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. We're up here once again during the Festival. And we have, we're at the Pleasance, one of the venues here. And we have a wonderful excited Festival Fringe audience in front of us who are really hyped-up, eager to get going! They've waited a long time to get in, they want to get the show started. So we'll start straight away with a very topical subject. Paul, it's called fringe benefits. Tell us something about that subject in this game, starting now.

PAUL MERTON: Well it's wonderful isn't it, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. You get so many marvellously talented comedians up here. You can meet many of them by standing on the Royal Mile, where they will hand you a leaflet advertising their show. And if you take those leaflets home, you can turn them...


NP: Clement you've challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: Repetition of leaflets.

NP: Yes you had too many leaflets.

PM: No, I had leaflet and leaflets.

NP: You did indeed, Paul, thank you for drawing my attention to it. Right...

PM: Any time I can help, it's a pleasure.

NP: Yes...

PM: Can I say how well you're looking?

NP: Thank you very much. Paul so that was actually an incorrect challenge, so you get a point for an incorrect challenge, you keep the subject, 49 seconds still available, fringe benefits starting now.

PM: Mould them into the shape of a tree or a Volkswagen, and it will always be a memento of the marvellous time you spent on the Fringe. Of course one of the other benefits attached to this marvellous...


NP: Ah Greg you challenged.

GREG PROOPS: Now I'm not sure, but I think he used the singular of marvellous twice!

PM: No...

NP: He did indeed, he said how marvellous it was before.

PM: No, the second one was marvellouses!

NP: Yeah, you wish you it had been but it wasn't. Right Greg, you've got a correct challenge, you have a point for that of course, you have 39 seconds, you take over fringe benefits starting now.

GP: The Edinburgh Fringe is both basically exhilarating and exciting, in so much as comedians can ply their trade in front of crowds in various states of inebriation, and having consumed fried goods, the likes of which are not seen outside of the Edinburgh area...


NP: And Dara, you challenged.

DARA O'BRIAIN: He did say Edinburgh twice.

PM: Mmmm, didn't he.


NP: You see, Dara, a newcomer, you've got the audience with you right away. There we are...

DO: I'm leaving now! My job here is done!

NP: No you wait till I say now before you start, Dara.

DO: Well I wasn't going to start, I was actually going to leave now!

NP: So you have a correct challenge in the first round, good to hear from you Dara. And you have 21 seconds and the subject is fringe benefits and you start now.

DO: There are of course many ancillary benefits to working in Edinburgh for the month of August. Not least the fantastic effect it has on your calves, because it's very difficult to get from A to B in Edinburgh without...


NP: Um Greg you challenged.

GP: I believe there was a repetition of the word Edinburgh.

NP: There was indeed, yes, it's a difficult game, isn't it Dara. I explain to our listeners, I have two on my left, and two on my right, and Dara and Greg are sitting side by side, so they pick up the Edinburgh much quicker than the other two. Right so...

GP: (laughs) Can you hear us over there?

CF: Not yet!

PM: Five to 11!

NP: You may laugh! You work in radio, the listeners like to have a visual image of how we are placed.

PM: Then they shouldn't be listening to the radio then! No good to you at all!

GP: I seem to be emanating from right above someone's kitchen sink right now.

NP: Right, ah well you have the subject of fringe benefits...

GP: Ah!

NP: You have a point for that Greg, and you have 14 seconds to speak on it starting now.

GP: The Royal Mile is one of the most exciting parts of the city that is the capital of Scotland. Of course the...


NP: Ah who challenged, Paul?

PM: A hesitation there.

NP: There was a hesitation yes.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Having got round saying Edinburgh a second time, you thought oh, you were carried away and you paused.

GP: I like to think of it as a dramatic representation, a sharp intake of breath in my surprise at having thought of something clever!

NP: That's exactly what happened. And I'm afraid on Just A Minute, you can't allow it, because they're far too quick nowadays. So Paul you have a correct challenge and you have fringe benefits back with you, nine seconds starting now.

PM: Hairdressers make a lot of money by selling off-cuts to mattress manufacturers. And what they do is they stuff these bed linen with all kinds of different...


NP: In this game as probably everybody knows by now, but whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. And on this occasion it was Paul Merton who started with the subject, finished with it, and at the end of the round, he's the one who is in the lead quite naturally. Right Greg, your turn to begin, Greg Proops, the subject is barbecues. Will you tell us something about barbecues in Just A Minute starting now.

GP: Barbecues are a great tradition in the land of my origin. Whether deep in the south, and it's just some hush puppies and coleslaw, baked beans, watermelon, pecan pie, with hand cranked vanilla ice cream. Or out in the southwest where they...


NP: Who challenged, Paul yes?

PM: Repetition of south.

NP: You had south before, in the south, then you had southwest.

GP: I think you'll find southwest is an entirely different word from south.

NP: I think it's hyphenated, but in radio, it's what you say. And you said south, you repeated south, so I'm afraid I have to give it against you Greg.

GP: Well I acquiesce to Paul's alleged domain!

PM: But can I ask you, do you really barbecue hush puppies?

GP: They're delicious if you get the sole cooked just right!

NP: Right, Paul you have a correct challenge, you have 44 seconds, you have hush, no, it's not hush puppies, you have barbecues and 44 seconds starting now.

PM: I would never put hush puppies on a barbecue. But you might as well, because often, when you go to one of these barbecues, the food tastes appalling! As if you should be standing outside in all kinds of weather, watching some poor devil trying to grill a half-eaten looking sausage on some terrible arrangement. The charcoal smells, it just burns and everyone says "is it done yet"? Yes it's completely black! And then they all stand around and wonder why they've got indigestion. Barbecues aren't right at all, I think because...


NP: Greg you've challenged.

GP: Ah, I don't really have one! I accidentally hit the buzzer.

NP: What we do there is, it was an incorrect challenge.

GP: It was yes.

NP: So Paul because he's interrupted gets a point. All that happens is you're giving points to the others in the panel here. Paul another point to you and 19 seconds, barbecues, starting now.

PM: I suppose a lot of it's to do...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: You have presupposed.

NP: You're right Clement, so what is your challenge within the rules of Just A Minute?

CF: Repetition, he supposed last time.

NP: Oh yes, you did indeed.

PM: Did I?

CF: Yes you did.

NP: Yes. So Clement you have the correct subject, I mean... correct subject! You have a correct challenge, 19 seconds, barbecues starting now.

CF: Haggis, sporran and lightly tossed cabers are what I would like to put on my barbecue. It makes the whole garden smell of... roses...


NP: And Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes there was, he was thinking about...

CF: Where?

PM: Of.... roses!

NP: Yes and he was thinking of those cabers on his barbecue. Right, ah there are seven seconds available still on barbecues Paul starting now.

PM: I remember my father in the summer of 1976, determined to put together one of the finest barbecues ever seen by man. It...


NP: So Paul Merton speaking then as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And at the end of that round, he's increased his lead over the other three. And Dara we'd like you to take the next subject.

DO: Thank you very much.

NP: And it is children's presenters. And you have 60 seconds as usual, tell us something about them in this game starting now.

DO: Thank you for easing me in on this one. I myself, as you well know, used to be a children's television presenter. And it's a mistaken presumption that children's television presenters are all happy and clappy, and primary colours and dungarees and sweetness and light. And they're not, it's a savage vipers nest of ambition and Machiavellian tactics. They would kill each other just to get the next gig on. They all dream of being Cath Deeley or the next Ant and Dec. They will stab each other in the eye with a fork, rather than let the next person get the gig above them. And that's not to talk about the children who are themselves evil and wrong. I worked at the coal face with them for three years. My God, I wanted to throttle some of them. Especially the ones that used to come in in a big group going "tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow..."


NP: Yes...

DO: And yes, yes, there was repetition of the word tomorrow, but I'm glad I got it off my chest!

NP: And the first time you've taken a subject in Just A Minute, you went for 37 seconds!

DO: Thank you very much! You're very kind!

NP: But they couldn't let that tomorrow and tomorrow go, so Clement, you were the first one to buzz. And so you have the subject and you have 23 seconds available, children's presenters starting now.

CF: When I was very young, I was told that the children's presenter was a stork, and I believed that. It came from a huge nest, flew through the sky, holding babies for deserving parents. And it seemed a much more sensible and clean thing with which to present an unborn child, than... what...


CF: Shouldn't the whistle have blown?

NP: Yes you saw, you saw Janet pick up the whistle...

CF: No I didn't.

NP: ... and thought I'm all right now. Unfortunately you should have kept going for another half second!

CF: Ah!

NP: Because Paul got in first, and we know what it was, hesitation. And Paul, half a second on children's presenters starting now.

PM: Valerie Singleton was a wonderful woman. She appeared on the...


NP: So Paul getting all those extra points, he seems to be speaking always when the whistle goes. He's leapt forward and he's got a stronger lead over the other three who are trailing a little, but they're all equal in second and third place. They can't be equal in second and third place, but they're... right Clement, we're in Edinburgh, and the subject we've got now...

CF: Oh?

NP: Yes!

PM: Have you had a sudden flash?

NP: No! Somebody might just have tuned in at that moment.

PM: Oh yes.

NP: Right, and the subject now is auld reekie. So would you please Clement tell us something now about auld reekie in this game starting now.

CF: I believe auld is spelt A-U-L-D but pronounced "old" nevertheless. I personally come from the south of this British Isles in which we live. And all I know about auld reekie is that it used to be a description of the evil smells that emanate from the barbecues of Edinburgh. Sporrans, haggisses, lightly tossed cabers, all sorts of evil people who set themselves on fire, and taint the sky so that nasally the intake of really unpleasant odours manifests itself throughout this southern part of Scotland, and for all I know, further distant places like Aberdeen and Tipperary, not to mention Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone. But auld reekie it is, and here we are and ...


NP: Well that hasn't happened for a while, someone starting with the subject and keeping going for the full 60 seconds without being interrupted and without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And he not only gets a point for speaking as the whistle went, but he gets a bonus point for the full 60 seconds. So Clement, you have leapt forward, you're now in a strong second position behind Paul Merton. And er for our listeners who are interested, not only was Clement right about the smoke and everything, which came from the fires, that's why it was called reekie. But also from the ghastly smells that came from what is now the Royal Gardens near Princes Street. Because that used to be a loch where they threw all their rubbish and their filth and their dirt. And that would added to it, and that's what made it old and reek. You couldn't care less to you! Right! I think I'm actually playing for time here, because the next subject, I think someone's got a something, they're going to have a go at me from outside. But um the subject in front of me is Sale Of The Century! I'm dreading this! And it's Paul who is going to speak on the subject, 60.... yes, I think you're already on the wavelength. So Paul, Sale Of The Century, 60 seconds starting now.

PM: The sail of the 16th century was undoubtedly the Armada! They came towards Britain, their ships full of angry Spaniards. Sir Francis Drake was playing bowls at Plymouth and suddenly somebody came up to him and said "here! Look over there! There's a great bunch of ships coming towards us!" And so he dropped what he was doing and he ran down towards the coast. And he quickly constructed a raft out of a destroyed ship, and sailed...


NP: Greg challenged.

GP: I believe he repeated the word ship.

PM: Ships.

NP: He said ships before.

GP: I thought there was three ships. There was a ship, a ships, and then a ship again.

NP: No.

GP: No, am I wrong?

NP: There was ships, he had ships when he talked about Francis Drake and his ships. I'm sorry Greg, good attempt, but it wasn't accurate. So Sale Of The Century is still with you Paul, 36 seconds available starting now.

PM: Has there ever been a more ridiculous quotation on television? "And now live from Norwich, the quiz of the week!" What a ridiculous virago it was throughout the 1970s...


NP: Um, Dara challenged.

DO: That was ridiculous twice, wasn't it?

NP: Yes.

PM: Oh was it?

NP: Yes, it was, well listened.

PM: I wasn't listening!

DO: I'm not proud...

PM: I've heard it before!

NP: He did repeat ridiculous and you've got 27 seconds, you tell us something about Sale Of The Century, starting now.

DO: Sale Of The Century seemed to paint a wonderful picture of England which was an unusual thing for Irish people to think. Because it seemed to give an impression that in England you could buy a fridge or a car...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Two Englands.

DO: Two Englands.

NP: There were two Englands, yes...

DO: And there are, apparently!

NP: Yes right, so Paul you got in again, 19 seconds, tell us more about Sale Of The Century starting now.

PM: The befuddled quiz master would sit in the middle, as various greedy pensioners from around the British Isles would say "I'll have the kettle for five pounds, the Volkswagen for six, and Aberdeen for 24..."


NP: Ah Clement challenged.

CF: Three fors.

NP: Yes. For six, for four, Aberdeen for so forth, yes. It's a bit of a tough challenge but it was correct, wasn't it.

PM: Yeah it was.

NP: He's determined to get in, he's determined to get in on Sale Of The Century, so eight seconds for you Clement on Sale Of The Century starting now.

CF: The sail of the last century was certainly Robin Knox-Johnson, sailing around the world in a small boat which he...


NP: So Clement Freud was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now just a few points behind our leader Paul Merton. And Dara O'Briain and Greg Proops are equal in third place. Greg Proops...

GP: Yes Nicholas?

NP: Your turn to begin.

GP: Nice to hear me back on the show!

NP: You've hardly been away! And you have 60 seconds as usual, the subject now is a stiff upper lip, tell us something...

GP: It's...

NP: No, I'll give you...

GP: I know, I know, but I'm always waiting to get nailed for hesitation so I feel extra anxious and I want to jump in right away.

NP: That's why I say "now" so that they eliminate that issue...

GP: I don't follow directions well, Nicholas!

NP: Well, stiff upper lip, with you Greg starting now.


GP: Damn!

NP: Yes Paul, what was your challenge?

PM: Hesitation!

GP: Ahhhhh!

NP: You wicked so-and-so! I'll tell you what we do, because the audience enjoyed that so much, give Paul a bonus point, he did it more for fun than to be serious within the rules of the game. And Greg you get a point because you were interrupted, you still have a stiff upper lip, you have 59 and three quarters of a second starting now.

GP: Being from the United States, a stiff upper lip is not something that I am entirely used to. Because where I'm from, we're emotional and...


NP: Dara challenged.

DO: Is "from" twice?

PM: Mmmm! Yeah!

NP: Yes there was a "from" twice. My gosh, you're listening sharp, aren't you?

DO: Aren't I yeah!

PM: He's picked it up quick, hasn't he!

NP: Yes!

PM: I thought I'd let that one go!

NP: So he's in with a sharp challenge...

DO: I still don't understand the deviation rule. I mean his 60 seconds about auld reekie ended up in Tunbridge Wells at one stage! I thought I'd let that one go!

NP: No, no, no, you were right, you're playing it with a sharp incisive er attitude...

DO: I'm being picky, aren't I! That's what you're trying to say!

NP: You're getting points and you're getting into it. Right Dara, so 50 seconds, you tell us something about a stiff upper lip starting now.

DO: It's...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yeah! I'm afraid there was, but as it is the very first time he's played the game, I'm going to be generous to Dara, and say Paul, you have a point for a correct challenge, Dara you have a point for being interrupted, and you keep going, and do start as soon as I say now, a stiff upper lip starting now.

DO: Being Irish...


DO: Ahhhh!

PM: It wasn't me!

NP: Yes?

CF: Deviation.

NP: Why?

CF: He started too quickly!

NP: Well the only thing I can do is I gave Paul a bonus point when he challenged for hesitation when it wasn't. Clement you get your bonus point which I'm sure you want, for that particular suggestion which you...

DO: Would it be safe to say my honeymoon period is over?

NP: Forty-eight seconds are still available for you Dara on a stiff upper lip starting now.

DO: Being Irish...


NP: Paul?

PM: Have we not had "being Irish" about three times?

DO: I never get a chance to finish the phrase!

NP: Yes but not in this round.

PM: Really?

NP: Yes, really!

PM: Is it a catch-phrase?

NP: Well I've heard his stand-up comedy, and he doesn't mention it.

PM: I seem to have heard it an awful lot!

NP: If you're new to the game, it's a good way of beginning, isn't it.

PM: What's that? "Being Irish"?

NP: Yes! I mean if it's...

DO: So for the two words "being Irish", you've got me with hesitation, deviation and repetition.

GP: I haven't weighed in yet!

NP: So Dara you had another incorrect challenge, you have another point, and you still have a stiff upper lip, and believe it or not, there's still 46 seconds to go and you start now.

DO: As a Paddy...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Deviation.

NP: Why?

PM: He didn't start with "being Irish"!

NP: Oh give Paul another bonus point! You have... don't start with "as a Paddy" or "being Irish"... think of something else to get in. Right, I don't mind how you start as long as you don't repeat...

DO: Oh all right, this sentiment is going to be expressed no matter how you want it!

NP: Right, 44 seconds, a stiff upper lip, Dara starting now.

DO: Not hailing from these shores, it amazes me the level to which the English will endure things with a stiff upper lip. I was on a holiday recently, there was an English woman in a group...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Two English.

DO: Englishwoman though is surely a word.

NP: No, it's not an Englishwoman, English and woman, no. You don't, I don't think you even hyphenate them.

DO: No, I know yeah.

NP: It's a good try...

DO: Thank you!

NP: Clement, correct challenge, 35 seconds still available, a stiff upper lip starting now.

CF: There are people in this country who think, even if they are Irish, that a stiff upper lip is a tremendous...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation I'm afraid.

NP: It was a hesitation, we never knew what that tremendous was.

CF: You will.

NP: Twenty-eight seconds are available Paul on a stiff upper lip with you starting now.

PM: I always think of Robert Donatt in the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Thirty-Nine Steps, as being the personification of the stiff upper lip. The movie begins with him in a movie... oh!


NP: Dara you challenged.

DO: Oh I think that was just the first of many! Ah at that point.

NP: Yes right yes, Dara correct challenge, 19 seconds, a stiff upper lip starting now.

DO: The very definition of a stiff upper lip for me was on a trip to Africa this year where a woman hailing from England had...


NP: Ah who challenged, Paul.

PM: Repetition of woman.

NP: Yes so Paul you... Clement you've pressed, you want to say something? No you don't...

CF: Yes! Not, not immediately!

NP: Not immediately! Paul that's another correct challenge, and you have...


NP: There's a slight state of hysteria prevailing at the moment. But that's the Festival Fringe for you, it all builds and it goes and it builds and it mounts and excitement and pleasure and joy and fun and humour.

GP: Talk slower!

NP: Right, 13 seconds for you Paul, a stiff upper lip starting now.

PM: If you prepare a plate of starch, then once it's the right consistency, you put a brush in it and start applying it to your upper lip, and within moments you'll be able to walk around Edinburgh and people will say "my goodness..."


NP: Oh so Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went gained that extra point. He had others in the round, he's now in the lead, not quite so far ahead. Oh we have now two equal in second place, because Dara O'Briain got quite a few points in that last round, and he's now equal in second place with Clement Freud, and Greg Proops is bringing up the rear just behind them. Well he would be! And we're moving into the last round by the way. So Clement it is also your turn to begin and the subject, oh delightfully Scottish this one, Robert the Bruce. Tell us something about him in this game starting now.

CF: I was once asked whether I knew the connection between Robert the Bruce, and Winnie the Pooh, and of course it is that they share a middle name! What is always important to remember is that Dunkirk, the Battle of Hastings, and the Charge of the Light Brigade are, apart from Bannockburn, our finest hours. And it was Robert the Bruce who beat the English at that... 14th century battle...


NP: Greg challenged.

GP: Ah a bit of a hesitation.

NP: There was a bit of a hesitation, he was trying to think of another word for Bannockburn and unfortunately...

CF: No I wasn't!

NP: ... failed. But give him a bonus point, give him a bonus point throughout because he had this incredible round of applause, and I told him to keep going through the applause, riding the laughter as you might say. So he has a bonus point for that, but he was interrupted, Greg you have a correct challenge, you have 28 seconds, Robert the Bruce starting now.

GP: William...


NP: Oh yes, I know what you're going to say!

CF: Oh that was hesitation.

NP: It was hesitation!

GP: (in tears) Shut up! I hate this game!

NP: Oh he's broken down now! Greg...

GP: I'll stagger through!

NP: Yeah! Right Clement, you have a correct challenge and you have 27 seconds available, Robert the Bruce starting now.

CF: When in prison, Robert the Bruce had this meaningful relationship with a spider, the insect, not the thing you use playing snooker. And what he admired so very much about the four legged thing that crept, was its perseverance. He felt...


NP: Dara you've challenged.

DO: Presumably, a four legged spider. Ah somebody has to pick up on that! Ah... it's got to be wrong in any man's eyes.

NP: Spiders don't have four legs, they have six.

DO: No, ah... let me put it to you really simply. Spiders are eight legged creatures.

NP: That's right yes.

CF: Not this spider!

PM: Ah! It might have been a spider with special needs! We don't know, we weren't there! We weren't, were you there, Nicholas?

NP: Almost my period, but not quite, no. I was doing a sort of Bannockburn Sale Of The Century but it didn't... right! Ah Dara yes, they don't have four legs, they have eight as you say, so you have a correct challenge and you have 10 seconds on Robert the Bruce starting now.

DO: All I know of is Robert the Bruce is what I've seen in the film Braveheart. A film about Scotland...


NP: And Paul challenged.

PM: Yes, sadly repetition of film.

NP: Yes, sadly, yes. I know! Six seconds, Robert the Bruce, Paul starting now.

PM: When I think of Robert the Bruce, I can't help but conjure up the sound of bagpipes, the heather, the great big battle ahead...



NP: So Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went, gained the extra point. Let me give you the final situation. Greg Proops who hasn't played the show as much as the others, but did extraordinarily well, finished in a marvellous fourth place with a lot of points and a lot of fun. Dara O'Briain who has never played it before finished in a magnificent third place, a lot of points there. Clement Freud who has played it quite a lot of times, but he got a lot of points, and he finished up in second place. But yes but on this particular show, with a magnificent score, never had so many points scored in the show before, 23 points, Paul Merton, a round of applause! Thank you, there's no more time to play Just A Minute as I said, so it only remains for me to say thank you to these four delightful players of the game, Paul Merton, Clement Freud, Greg Proops and Dara O'Briain. I thank Janet Staplehurst who has helped me keep the score, she has blown her whistle so delicately and charmingly when the 60 seconds was up. We thank our producer, Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this game. And we are very grateful to this lovely Festival Fringe audience here at the Pleasance who have cheered us on our way. And I hope they have had a wonderful fringe benefit time! Yes! From our audience, from me, Nicholas Parsons and the panel, thank you for tuning in, be with us the next time we play Just A Minute! Till then good-bye!