NICHOLAS PARSONS: Throughout the 1980s Just A Minute was evolving. As the regular players of the game became sharper and more inventive in their challenges, I began to define the rules more precisely. My instinct told me that this made the show more entertaining, and that if Just A Minute was to achieve any longevity, this was the natural way to play the game, The challenges for hesitation became more keen, and repetition was now definitely based on the repeating of a word. However what I decided to do, in consultation with Ian Messiter and the producer, was to allow the players to repeat the subject, or the phrase I had given them. This was a shrewd decision. Otherwise at the pace the show was now being played, there would have been far too many challenges of repetition which would have risked inducing boredom and irritation in the listener. Players had to be able to get under way and take the subject in different directions if they wished. In this next edition from 1983, Kenneth Williams is in fine form, even finding an opportunity to work in his pet phrase about coming all the way from Great Portland Street, which the listeners always enjoyed. Regular listeners to Just A Minute may have observed how Peter Jones became less competitive over the years, waiting instead for those moments when he could make one of his astute and witty comments, which often got some of the biggest laughs in the show. Clement Freud has remained amazingly consistent, over the years, bringing intelligent and lucid thought to whatever he is talking about, and on occasions interpreting the subject in a clever and original way. These three regulars are in this recording, along with guest Victoria Wood. Like any first-time player, she struggled a little at the start, but with her agile mind, she was soon playing the game in great style. At the time she was married to a magician and illusionist, so for the first round Ian Messiter thought of a suitably apt subject. Part of the fun of such an approach comes when one of the other players gets the subject, and has to then improvise on something that is completely incongruous to their personality. The fun and comedy certainly buzz in this recording, first broadcast in September 1983.


ANNOUNCER: We present Kenneth Williams, Clement Freud, Peter Jones and Victoria Wood in Just A Minute. And as the Minute Waltz fades away here to tell you about it is our chairman Nicholas Parsons.

NP: Thank you, thank you very much. Hello and welcome once again to Just A Minute. Once again I'm going to ask them if they can speak on the subject I will give them, and try and do it without hesitation, repetition, or deviating from the subject. And let us begin the show this week with Kenneth Williams, the subject is going off at the deep end.


NP: So something that you would never dream of doing, I'm sure, Kenneth. But can you talk on the subject for 60 seconds starting now.

KW: Divers are advised to go off at the deep end. Because if they do it at the shallow one, well they're liable to have a lot of trouble on impact, you see. I was at school, and the swimming lessons were obligatory. In other words, I was forced to attend them. And I didn't take a lot of pleasure in the idea of it, because I'm not really given to athleticism in any way. I'm more your cup of tea and an aspirin and a lie down type. Because I don't think you should expend an awful lot of energy, least of all in swimming baths where I think you...


NP: Clement Freud has challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: Repetition of swimming.

NP: Yes you mentioned swimming before, I'm afraid Kenneth. So Clement Freud has a correct challenge, he gets a point for that of course. And he takes over the subject with 24 seconds left, going off at the deep end starting now.

CF: If you are going to go off, the deep end is not a bad place in which to do it. And an extraordinary smell emanates from your person, while all around the municipal baths, people nudge each other and say "I believe he is going off". And especially at the deep end. At the shallow side of the pool...


NP: When Ian Messiter blows his whistle, that tells us 60 seconds is up. Whoever is speaking at that moment gains the extra point. It was Clement Freud on this occasion, and I don't need to tell you that he has the lead at the end of the first round. In fact he's the only one who has scored any points. We'd also like you to begin the second round Clement, and the subject...

CF: Has the monopoly commission looked into this?

NP: Well the subject is so much you that we thought we should ask you to take this round. The subject is stewed hippo. And I'm sure you can tell us something about that in the game starting now.

CF: Stewing is an alternate culinary methodology to boiling, roasting, deep or shallow frying, and baking. And I suggest by far the best way of doing it is to cut the meat into small cubes, such as you might put on a skewer or be able to put it into your mouth at one time. Sauté it, which is French for... I've said it, I'm sorry...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PETER JONES: Hesitation.

NP: Yes, I think you are right. And you have the subject, and you have stewed hippo with 17 seconds left starting now.

PJ: Well hippos usually lie about in mud and water. And if they were immersed in gin or some other alcoholic beverage, they would become stewed hippos. And I think that's about all I can say. Fortunately I don't have...


NP: Kenneth Williams challenged.

KW: I don't agree! I'm sure there's a lot more he could say on that subject! With his inventiveness, and his extraordinary verbal dexterity! I think he could go on forever if he wanted to!

NP: So you're accusing him of deviation...

KW: Yes certainly.

NP: Well you've been very clever because you've got in with two seconds to go, and a point for a correct challenge, and stewed hippo starting now.

KW: Well of course, nobody has it. Nobody civilised would have it, it's a pachyderm...


NP: Right so Kenneth Williams got the extra point, speaking as the whistle went. He's in a strong second position, two points behind Clement Freud who is still in the lead. Peter Jones has one point, he begins the next round. And the subject is getting stuck in the lift. Peter... don't laugh! It's happened to me once, it is frightening! There are 60 seconds starting now.

PJ: Well if you're going to get stuck in a lift, the important thing is to choose a companion who is congenial, and will help pass the time in as pleasant a way as possible. And then getting stuck in a lift can be relatively pleasant. Between two floors, perhaps during ah er...


NP: Victoria Wood challenged.

VICTORIA WOOD: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation is right Victoria. You have 30, no, 42 seconds which are left for this subject. So could you tell us something about getting stuck in the lift starting now.

VW: Getting stuck in a lift is much easier if you put in more people in the lift than the lift instruction which is usually on the wall tells you you should have. So what I would suggest if you want to get stuck in the lift, is to get in the lift, and then bring in your friends, or your wives, or your husbands, or your animals, so that there are more kilograms inside the cube that is moving up and down. Because I don't know if I'm supposed to say lift any more times or not. Nicholas? Can I?


CF: Well almost everything!

VW: Everything! Yes!

CF: You name it! You name it, she did it!

NP: So Clement you have 14 seconds on getting stuck in the lift starting now.

CF: If you get stuck in a lift, I suggest you lose weight, and it will be quite easy to get out. But if the lift gets stuck, you really are in trouble. Especially if it does so between two floors. Because it is extraordinarily difficult if you're caught...


NP: So Clement Freud, another point for speaking as the whistle went, and has increased his lead. So Victoria Wood, your turn to begin. The subject that Ian Messiter's chosen is the last time my husband sawed me in half.

VW: Starting from when?

NP: That's the subject.

VW: Yes but...

NP: Would you tell us something about it...

VW: Yes...

NP: ... in the game starting now.

VW: The last time my husband sawed me in half was in November, when he wanted to test out a trick which is called a stomach zopper, which is a piece of equipment which he was using to cut in two the actor Roy Kinnear who was appearing in pantomime with him at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. And he called me in from the other room, and he said he'd like to try out this particular thing that I've just mentioned. And I lay on it, it was a very large oblong black thing with casters and a bit that fitted over the top, over your stomach, with a Black and Decker saw that went across in the middle. So I lay down and he switched it on and pressed it right across the middle, after having said the words "ole Torremilinos!" And then, then he switched it on, and it goes bzzzz, makes a very frightening noise. I can't tell you how it works though I do know. It's something to do with an extra bit of equipment which I can't mention. And then he ran it across backwards. And lo, there I was! Not in two bits, but in one, because it was magic! And that's actually the end of the story. I don't know if I have to keep on talking...


NP: Clement Freud, you've challenged.

CF: Deviation, it's the end of the story.

VW: That's not deviation.

NP: That is not deviation.

CF: Deviation from the subject of the last time I...

NP: She said that was the end of the story, she was still keeping on the subject. So that challenge is incorrect Clement. And you have four more seconds, Victoria, to try and keep going on the last time my husband sawed me in half, starting now.

VW: The last time my husband sawed me in half was half past four on a wet Wednesday...


NP: So Victoria Wood was then speaking as the whistle went, and she has gained points in that round with which she began. And she is now in second place behind our leader Clement Freud.

VW: Hooray!

NP: Kenneth will you begin the next subject. The subject is the three bears, 60 seconds starting now.

KW: This is a children's nursery rhyme as I recall...


NP: Victoria Wood challenged.

VW: It's not one. It's a story. Sorry.

KW: I beg your pardon. Yes it's a story. A children's story. Shall I go on?

NP: (laughs) It is a, that's a good challenge Victoria. Yes.

VW: Yes I think so.

NP: I'm sorry, I was a bit confused. I thought it was the children's aspect you were challenging on. I apologise.

VW: No.

NP: There are 53 seconds...

PJ: You thought it was a grown-up nursery rhyme?

NP: You do have to make allowances for my rather weak mental capacity.

PJ: Yes!

NP: That's why I have the job. If I was as intelligent as you, we wouldn't be able to have a good game.

PJ: Oh come on now! Come on! Come on! Be serious!

NP: Ah, 52...

PJ: If I wanted to be funny, I'd wear a suit like that!


NP: You were, you were before I bought it! Right, let's get back to Just A Minute. Fifty-two seconds, Victoria Wood, the three bears.

VW: The three bears is a children's story. Though some people, I believe, think it's a nursery rhyme, but actually it's not. It's a children's story and it was originally...


NP: And Clement Freud challenged.

VW: Hello?

CF: Repetition of children's story.

NP: Yes.

VW: Yes I think so.

NP: I'm afraid so. So Clement there are 50 seconds on the three bears starting now.

CF: When my husband sawed the three bears in half...


VW: That's insanity!

NP: It may be insanity, but we don't know yet whether he's deviated from the subject. So we'll give him the benefit of the doubt...

VW: Oh!

NP: ... and ask him to continue on the three bears, with 47 seconds left starting now.

CF: He did it vertically instead of horizontally. So there were six bears which was embarrassing as each...


NP: Victoria Wood.

VW: You can't make six bears by cutting three into two. You only get six bits!

NP: Six halves yes, well done Victoria.

VW: Yes.

NP: There are...

CF: Oh, oh really!

NP: Forty seconds on the three bears starting now.

VW: The three bears takes place in a wood, in a little cottage. It's about three hairy animals, who eat porridge and sleep in wooden beds. And one day they're visited by a tiny girl called Goldilocks. And the reason she's called that is because she's got long blonde hair. And one day she goes into the house, breaks and enters even while they're not there. And she eats all their porridge and sleeps in one of their beds...


VW: I said porridge! I've said beds! I know!

NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: I don't think you could tell the story of the three bears without repeating yourself.

VW: It's the charm of the story, isn't it.

PJ: Exactly! It is!

VW: That's what children like.

PJ: That's why it's so devilishly cunning of them to have set this as a subject.

VW: Yes.

NP: So their devilish cunning has helped you Peter and you have 17 seconds on the three bears starting now.

PJ: I've never heard the end of the story, because my interest begins to wane on the third repetition! And when it's discovered...


VW: Repetition.

NP: Victoria Wood's challenged.

PJ: What?

VW: Repetition. He said repetition.

NP: Yeah but he used the word repetition, he didn't repeat. Peter you have a point for that and Victoria gets a round of applause from her mother in the audience! There are eight seconds for the three bears starting now.

PJ: I've always thought this Goldilocks character must have been a dumb blonde, because she doesn't really take in the fact that there are intruders in the...


NP: So at the end of the round Peter was speaking as the whistle went. He's still in third place. Kenneth's gone back to fourth place. And Clement begins the next round, the subject Clement is being kind to the taxman. Will you tell us something about that subject starting now.

CF: When I met the taxman, I said I am proud to pay tax, but could be just as much so if I paid less. And I then decided that the best thing to do was to kill him with kindness. And my...


NP: Victoria Wood challenged.

VW: Hesitation. There seemed to be an awfully long gap with nothing happening, I thought.

PJ: Well it was a tremendously big decision to make!

NP: As you are our guest and Clement has a strong lead...

VW: No, no, I don't...

NP: No, no, I want...

VW: I don't want favours! I don't want it!

NP: Someone has to have the benefit of the doubt...

VW: No! No!

PJ: No!

NP: In my mind somebody has to have the benefit of the doubt....

VW: No, I don't want it!

NP: ... for that one...

VW: I don't want it!

NP: ... and I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt for that one...

VW: No! I'm not taking it!

PJ: Won't have it! Won't have it!

NP: And Clement's not taking it either...

VW: No!

NP: So I'll take over the subject!

VW: I don't want it!

NP: No...

VW: I concede the whole, I don't want it!

NP: You have it because we want to know what you have to say about being kind to the taxman, starting now.

VW: Being kind to the taxman consists of giving him a cup of coffee, and a biscuit and sitting him in your favourite chair in your own living room and listening to him talk about his wife and his golf and his hobbies and giving him a lot of money...


NP: Kenneth Williams challenged.

KW: Well there were a lot of his his hises, weren't there, there were three actually.

VW: Yes. I keep forgetting the rules, yes, you're right.

NP: I think there were too many for the game.

VW: There were too many yes.

KW: There were too many, you see Nicholas.

VW: There were yes.

KW: I felt, I had to...

VW: Duty bound!

KW: Do you follow me?

VW: Yes!

NP: And I thought you protested charmingly.

KW: Thank you very much.

NP: And you have 34 seconds for the subject of being kind to the taxman starting now.

KW: I had to be kind to a taxman. It was in Kingsway, and actually he pointed out to me, I thought most revealingly, that you could not go through every dossier in your area. He said otherwise like London Airport, no planes would ever take off. You can only inspect one or two at random. And he said W came up! I said "what a shame! Because I've been lying more or less dormant for ages, like a hibernating moth or mouse..."


NP: So Kenneth Williams is now in a strong third place alongside Peter Jones, two behind Victoria Wood, and four behind Clement Freud. And Peter begins the next round, my favourite sound. That is the subject Peter, you have 60 seconds as usual starting now.

PJ: I suppose it is really the sound of the human voice, which I prefer to musical instruments or machinery or people battering about in heavy shoes on wooden floors, or throwing tins of fruit on to corrugated iron roofs, or practically any...


NP: Victoria Wood challenged.

VW: Lot of ors.

NP: Let Victoria Wood continue on the subject of my favourite sound with 39 seconds left starting now.

VW: My favourite sound is the noise you get when one person takes the palm of one hand and puts it against the other and does it over and over again very very quickly...


VW: Oh I said over twice!

NP: Yes!

CF: She said over and over.

VW: I know.

NP: Yes she did, over and over again. Twenty-nine seconds left for my favourite sound Clement starting now.

CF: My favourite sound is Nicholas Parsons saying "and so we come to another game of Just A Minute and Clement Freud has won again..."


NP: And Kenneth Williams challenged.

KW: Hesitation.

NP: Yes you did hesitate when you thought...

KW: Loads of hesitations there. He just didn't know really what to say next, poor fellow! He was literally floundering, wasn't he, in that...

NP: He obviously, he obviously never listens to what I say at the end because he couldn't remember!

CF: Quite!

NP: There are 21 seconds for you Kenneth on my favourite sound starting now.

KW: It is the guitar. And I had the most marvellous time in the dressing room at the old Empire at Hackney where Gordon Jackson played this wonderful melody to me which he'd only recently learned and conquered, so to speak. He is the fellow I adore...


NP: Well after that round with Kenneth gaining more points, including one when speaking as the whistle went, he's now in second place alongside Victoria Wood, only two behind our leader Clement Freud. And Peter Jones follows them. Victoria Wood would you take the next round, the subject is the night I forgot my lines. Will you tell us something about that in the game starting now.

VW: The night I forgot my lines was in a show called Funny Turns, in which I appeared at the Duchess Theatre in Catherine Street in London last summer. And it was a er matinee on a Friday...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Hesitation.

NP: Fifty seconds are left for you Peter on the night I forgot my lines starting now.

PJ: Since my only object in appearing in this programme is to advertise the fact that I'm available for a real job of work, I don't see why I should advertise the fact...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Ah two advertise.

NP: Yes.

PJ: Oh I did, yes, of course.

NP: Too much advertising I'm afraid Peter.

PJ: Yes how unfortunate.

NP: There are 37 seconds on the night I forgot my lines with you Clement starting now.

CF: On the morning of the night I forgot my lines, the schoolmaster who was looking after me at the time in Berkshire said "Freud, take 450 lines". "Yes sir," I said, because I was an obedient child. And went to my study to write out "it is the mark of insincerity of purpose to seek a highborn Emperor in a low-down teashop". When I had done this only 139 times...


NP: Yes Kenneth?

KW: Well hesitation I thought.

CF: After you pressed the buzzer, I hesitated.

NP: But he did repeat the word times, well done! There are 12 seconds...

CF: Do you want an unfair game!

NP: ... for the time I forgot my lines starting now.

KW: Well I immediately, the night I forgot my lines, just sort of, you know, played it for, I mean, I knew what I was doing...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: That was hesitation.

NP: Yes I think so.

KW: Well I was trying to think of a word for "fill in". That's what I couldn't think of.

NP: You forgot your lines.

KW: I was filling in, that's what I was doing, you see.

NP: You were demonstrating how to forget your lines. Clement you have four seconds on the night I forgot my lines starting now.

CF: Might I as an alternative copy out "oh that we now..."


NP: So Clement Freud, speaking again as the whistle went, has increased his lead. And Kenneth Williams begins the next round. The subject Kenneth is Giotto. Will you tell us something about him in the game starting now.

KW: The first we really know of him is about 1304, because of that incredible decoration in, what is known I think as the Arena Chapel in Padua. Of course there are other works that spring to mind. I always think the most outstanding is Faith, that wonderful picture of the woman in the arch, which looks incidentally almost as if it were a statue. And this is where he is so far ahead in that incredible renaissance world, because he takes one from the Byzantine flatness, almost two dimensional, to this reality. The lovely paintings that he's done at Assisi depict various moments in the life of the great saint. And he was at pains to show the beginning as a reprobate, a man who really liked a lot of money, incidentally...


NP: So Kenneth Williams took an intellectual subject there, and kept going with great style to the end. He gets a point for speaking as the whistle went, and he's only two points behind our leader Clement Freud who begins the next round. The subject Clement, when the car breaks down. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

CF: When the car breaks down and you are about to talk about it on Just A Minute, on BBC Radio Television, or...


NP: Victoria Wood.

CF: Yes! Mmmm!

VW: It's on the radio, not on the television. So far!

NP: Yes and radio-television is a very strange medium to work in. So Victoria I agree with the challenge, you have 52 and a half seconds, when the car breaks down starting now.


VW: When the car breaks down...

NP: Clement Freud.

CF: Hesitation.

VW: What?

NP: No! You have 50 seconds now on when the car breaks down...

VW: The thing to do is to make sure you don't burst into tears. Because when you're crying it's very hard to make yourself heard on the other end of the telephone on the motorway, what with the lorries going past and roaring, and people overtaking. It's very difficult and it gets a bit upsetting if they can't quite catch what you're saying and the nature of your breakdown...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: She repeated saying.

NP: That's right, what you're saying.

VW: Did I?

NP: Yes.

VW: Gosh.

NP: There are 32, 31 and a half seconds actually for you Peter, when the car breaks down starting now.

PJ: They will then instruct you to stand by your vehicle. Well, after two or three days, a man will come in a van and he will say "I think your battery is flat". And you then give him about four pounds and he'll connect the battery...


PJ: Oh shit!

NP: Clement Freud.

PJ: I beg your pardon! Oh! Oh I'm terribly sorry! How embarrassing!

KW: What are you sorry about?

NP: What are you sorry about?

KW: What are you going on about, you're sorry? What happened?

VW: Nothing happened!

KW: He keeps on saying he's sorry!

NP: Victoria Wood, who is sitting next to you, seems to be enjoying it all! Whatever you were sorry about Peter.

PJ: Yes! Quite!

NP: Clement Freud you have the subject and there are 11 seconds, when the car breaks down starting now.

CF: While broadcasting, never ever mention the name of the maker. Otherwise you will be sued and have to appear in court, either on slander or libel charges which tend to be terribly expensive...


NP: So Clement Freud, extra point for speaking as the whistle went, has increased his lead. And Peter Jones begins the next round. The subject Peter is puzzles. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

PJ: I suppose the worst kind of puzzles are those little things that you carry about in your pocket with a lot of little balls or er ball-bearings perhaps they are. Anyway they're tiny and they are, they're a lot of holes like a miniature golf course and you have to sort of manoeuvre this little box around in such a way. I think they've given up, haven't they, over there? Have they, er...


NP: Kenneth Williams you challenged.

PJ: Have they...

KW: I challenged because Clement and I have certainly not given up! So it's deviation!

PJ: I thought you...

NP: Kenneth you have the subject and there are 37 seconds on puzzles starting now.

KW: I don't like them, you know, because they're really a test, you see. And I don't think people should be submitted to any of these tests. On one occasion...


NP: Victoria Wood challenged.

VW: Test test.

NP: Test test, yes.

KW: No, I said "they're really a test" and "I don't like tests".

CF: That's what he said.

KW: So I used the singular, and then a plural. You ought to listen, you want to wash your ears out! Instead of interrupting me all the time!

CF: Quite right!

NP: She hasn't come all the way from the north of England to be insulted.

KW: I've come all the way from Great Portland Street, mate! How's that! Oh I can show them!

NP: Last time she was here she had great trouble arriving because of the train problems.

KW: What's that got to do with puzzles?

NP: Because of the aggressive way in which you speak to our charming guest.

KW: Oh on the contrary, there's nothing aggressive about me, is there! I am the most pacific...

NP: For once you haven't got a, the audience reaction you expected. They may like you, but they know you're aggressive. But you were also correct, so I must be fair within the game and say that you continue with 28 seconds on puzzles starting now.

KW: One of them is this snakes and ladders. They say you've got to throw this dice and the puzzle is to get to this place without falling over a snake which is on some sort of ladder...


NP: Clement.

CF: Repetition of this.

NP: Oh you are mean!

KW: Don't allow it! It's ridiculous! You're the chairman! Don't allow it! It's a barmy challenge! Ludicrous! Oh it's just childishly petulant...

NP: Yes...

KW: ... because he's not winning! That's the reason! He can see that I'm leaping into the lead!

NP: Well actually...

KW: That's what that thing's about! Plus the fact that he envies my hair! It's like spun gold! He's always envied it, you see.

NP: Ah we don't challenge, it's like with the ors. We had four ors, we had three hises, but we only had two thises. And I think that's one of those things...

KW: Hear hear!

NP: ... on which we desist, we do not...

KW: Precisely! Yes! What a very good chairman!

NP: So ah...

KW: Very good! Yes!

NP: Kenneth you have 19 seconds on puzzles starting now.

KW: Of course the monkey puzzle is another. And there is a tree which is called the monkey puzzle. I always think it's rather funny...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Repetition of monkey.

NP: Twelve seconds...

PJ: Actually I met a brass one outside. He told me the most amazing story!


NP: Ah Kenneth Williams.

KW: Hesitation. He stopped.

NP: Well he hadn't started actually!

PJ: I hadn't started!

NP: There are still 12 seconds left Peter, for you to go on puzzles starting now.

PJ: And there really is... (starts to laugh)


NP: Victoria Wood has challenged.

VW: Everything!

PJ: Everything, yes.

NP: Absolutely everything yes. That's what happens if you stop and start and don't get a chance... there are nine and a half seconds for puzzles with you Victoria starting now.

VW: The most famous kind and the original kind and the worst...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

VW: Kind, kind, thank you, yes! Carry on! Don't mind me!

CF: Repetition of kind.

NP: Yes it wasn't very kind, but you are right on the er your challenge. And there are seven seconds for puzzles with you Clement starting now.

CF: I was given one last Christmas. It had four jugglers and three balls, trying to get two hats into one aperture which was...


NP: Well I'm afraid we have no more time to play Just A Minute so let me give you the final score. A lot of points were scored in this particular game. Peter Jones picked up quite a number but still finished in fourth place. Our guest Victoria Wood was a little way behind Kenneth Williams who nearly won. But at that last throw of the dice, Clement Freud came back to overtake him, and is this week's winner, Clement Freud! We do hope you've enjoyed listening to Just A Minute, we hope you've enjoyed it in the audience as much as we've enjoyed playing it. And will want to tune in again when we take to the air, and we play this delightful game. Till then from all of us here, good-bye.


ANNOUNCER: The chairman of Just A Minute was Nicholas Parsons, the programme was devised by Ian Messiter and produced by Pete Atkin.