starring PAUL MERTON, CLEMENT FREUD, DARA O'BRIAIN and LEE MACK, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 23 August 2004)

NOTE: Lee Mack's only 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 pleasure to welcome our many listeners, not only in this country but throughout the world. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from Edinburgh. We are at the Pleasance during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival up here. And we have three wonderful comedians who are doing packed business in their shows. And one regular player of the game who is not actually doing a show up here. So would you please welcome, sitting on my right, that outstanding comedian who has excelled so frequently in our show, and of course in his own show up here, that is Paul Merton. And sitting beside him is somebody who has been associated with this programme for many years, actually ever since it started, and always excels, and that is Clement Freud. And sitting on my left we have two comedians who are also doing capacity business up here, one who has only played the game once before, and that is Dara O'Briain. And one of them who has never played it before and that is Lee Mack. Will you please welcome all four of them! And as usual I'm going to ask them to speak on a subject that I give them, and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Beside me sits Janet Staplehurst, who is going to help me with the score, and she's going to blow a whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And we have in front of us an excited hyped up Fringe audience just eager to get the show going. So let us start with Paul Merton. Paul the subject in front of me is if women ruled the world. What a subject to start with!


NP: It's got a good reaction already! Well talk on that subject if you can Paul, 60 seconds starting now.

PAUL MERTON: If women ruled the world George W Bush would be stacking supermarket shelves! And what a wonderful prospect that would be. Women would be better negotiators than men, apart from that one time of the month when they'd scream "kill him!" But easily placated with chocolate and evening primrose oil, they would see the error of their ways. If women ruled the world, there'd be more pastel shades. For example, Clement is sitting next to me in glorious pink. And why shouldn't men dress like that? He's not afraid of it, he's out, he's gay, he doesn't care...


NP: Clement Freud has challenged.


NP: Yes there were five hes.

PM: Five?

NP: We often let one or two go, but five is pushing it too far. So Clement, a correct challenge, you get a point for that of course, you take over the subject and there are 33 seconds available, if women ruled the world starting now.

CF: If women ruled the world, Peter Mandelson would be terribly upset!


NP: Um Paul you challenged first.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: That was indeed hesitation. In fact I think he stopped. He was so overwhelmed at the amazing thought that he expressed. It was worth a round of applause, but it didn't come. So he's got, Paul a correct challenge, you have the subject, you have 28 seconds, if women ruled the world starting now.

PM: It is perceived that the feminine sex is the gentler one. I wonder if this is entirely fair. Because some men can be very caring, they, that's two theys. That's three, that's four...


NP: Lee Mack you've challenged.

LEE MACK: I think that was possibly repetition.

NP: It was repetition. Which he told you...

LM: Yes he actually told me about. And also he said to me before the show, don't admit it to yourself, so it's a good one.

NP: No, but he was looking at you at the time so there we are. So there are, you got your first point Lee, and you have 16 seconds, if women ruled the world, starting now.

LM: The last woman to really try and rule the world was of course Margaret Thatcher. Although technically not a woman, a transsexual...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: I wanted him to have a point.

NP: Your generosity's overwhelming Clement. So...

LM: Do you mean, when you say you want to have a point scored, or a direction in which I was heading?

CF: Both.

LM: Ah!

NP: So you can't have two, you can have one point because Clement's being very generous. Right, you have another point, so you have the subject still, and you have 17 seconds, if women ruled the... no I'm sorry, the light is shining on the stopwatch. And I can't always see what it says. Sorry Janet. I'm tipping Janet's hand for the sake of er, people at home listening. I've got her hand in mine now. And I'm tipping it so I can get the light off the stopwatch. And I've repeated that, I don't get any points for it. Eleven seconds Lee, if women ruled the world starting now.


NP: Ah Paul challenged.

PM: Well there was a bit, there was a bit of a hesitation.

NP: A bit of a hesitation. You need to really come straight in after I say now.

LM: Oh there's no breathing in at the beginning?

NP: There's no breathing in.

LM: Right okay.

NP: You have to take your breath beforehand and come straight in.

LM: Repetition, deviation, hesitation or breathing!

NP: So they've been a little bit...


NP: A bonus point to Lee because they enjoyed what he said. Right, ah but they were generous before, this time I have to be fair. Paul a correct challenge and 10 seconds, if women ruled the world starting now.

PM: If women ruled the world, I wonder if it would be a softer world after all. Perhaps the realities of high power politics would turn a woman's brain into that...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Paul Merton, and at the end of the round he has three points, and Lee Mack has also got three. Clement's got one, Dara's yet to speak, and he's yet to er... Dara I think you should take the next round.


NP: And the subject is apologising.

DO: Apologising is something that...

NP: No, I haven't said now!

DO: Sorry I was a little giddy.

NP: That's all right, no no no, you're keen which is great. Right the subject is apologising, 60 seconds starting now.

DO: Apologising is something that I'd always regard as a very English disease. The only race in the world that would say "I'm sorry, you seem to have run over my child"! Ah we're more robust in the Celtic nations, we tend to punch the person who drove the car in the first place, and not regard it as being their problem. It is very easy to get away with things in England, by simply refusing to say anything at all until the English person capitulates. Ah...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of English.

DO: Yes.

NP: Yes you had ah, you had England and English there.

DO: Yeah but I got the kick in anyway!


NP: I think we must have a predominantly Scottish audience here, have we! Anyway give Dara a nice bonus point for that lovely crack he made just then. That's my Scottish blood rising up the top there. Right, no, it was my Irish blood then, wasn't it. Sorry. Paul you have 40 seconds on apologising starting now.

PM: I would like to apologise to this audience for Nicholas's last speech. It didn't really make much sense. But overall, he's not here to make those kind of speeches. He...


NP: Um Dara challenged.

DO: An incorrect challenge, speeches and speech. But...

NP: That's right, you can have the singular and the plural.

DO: And the plural.

NP: And he's played the game so often, he often indulges in that and it's very difficult to spot...

DO: You mean he teased me? Is that what you're saying?

NP: That's right!

DO: You're saying that Paul Merton, Paul essentially beat the long grass and lured me out, and shot me with an arrow?

PM: You're above my mantelpiece now!

NP: So well said Dara, but can't give you another bonus point. Thirty seconds still available Paul, on apologising with you starting now.

PM: There is a certain art to the graceful apology. I think you should feel genuinely sorry for what you have done. You say to the person I am very sorry that I covered your mother in petrol. I had no idea there was going to be a barbecue. The open air, seemed like a lovely idea. I set light to her and up she went like a great big tornado. A towering inferno, with a little hat on the top. It was an extraordinary sight, and I do now say...


NP: Lee challenged.

LM: A certain amount of deviation going on here, I think. He started talking about setting fire to relatives, and not about apologising.

NP: I think that's a good challenge.

LM: Thank you.

NP: Yes.


NP: Yes...

PM: Was I not apologising throughout that?

NP: No but you, you had gone off apologising on to this barbecue. And we had this image of this woman being set light to, and her big hat going off and everything like that. No, no...

LM: And, and he breathed in the middle!

NP: So...

DO: Would it be safe to say that that's the end of Lee Mack's honeymoon period on the show?

NP: You've cleverly got in, also Lee, with two seconds to go. So it's two seconds...


NP: Ooooohhh! On apologising starting now.

LM: If you pass wind in a lift, the best thing...


NP: So Lee Mack was speaking as the whistle went, then got that extra point. He's one point behind Paul Merton who is still in the lead, and then Dara and then Clement in that order. And Lee we'd like you to take the next round. And the subject is the best thing about Scotland.

LM: It's very difficult...

NP: Wait a minute! Wait for me now! Yes I remember what you said before, you're not allowed to breathe in this game.

LM: That's what I was going to say, it's very difficult to remember when to start!

NP: I know! Well I always give, I always give that little pause in between.

LM: Oh right. Okay.

NP: So you can take your breath.

LM: Okay.

NP: So the subject is the best thing about Scotland, 60 seconds...


NP: ... starting now.

LM: It's very difficult to say what the best thing about Scotland is, because there's so many fantastic things. The culinary delights of the food, the weather, the international football team. In fact if I'm going to be honest, I'm going to struggle to make this to 60 seconds. No, I'm only joking, there's some wonderful things about Scotland. I am of course talking about things like the Isle of Skye, the Isle of...


NP: Yes and Paul challenged first.

PM: Repetition of things.

NP: Ah! Yes you did repeat things and actually it is the best thing about Scotland. Paul a correct challenge, you have 42 seconds, the best thing about Scotland starting now.

PM: Some people would say the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is one of the best things about Scotland. But I had a couple of people came to see my show the other night, who were from Glasgow...


NP: Dara challenged.

DO: Repetition of people.

NP: Yes.

PM: Oh yes, yes.

NP: A lot of people say that, and some people...

DO: Moomoomoomamah!


NP: I think more than a couple of people came to see your show Paul. Dara has a correct challenge, the best thing about Scotland, Dara, 36 seconds available starting now.

DO: People have a tendency to not look outside of Edinburgh when they are regarding the best thing about Scotland. Glasgow for example has many fine features including the tiniest underground train in the world, which looks as if it's been carved out of the rock by elves! When you sit on this, you begin to think who was this originally designed for? Was it to take workers from one side of the chocolate factory, ah, over to the river with a large boiled sweet on it? Ah, the ah, that's all, ah eargh!


NP: Oh! He did so well, and then we had, as they said in Punch in the old days, the collapse of stout party. Lee you challenged first.

LM: Yes there was a bit of hesitation there going on.

NP: There was a bit of hesitation, I agree. So you now have the best thing about Scotland and there are 11 seconds starting now.

LM: I love the bagpipes. To some people just a loud nauseating bag of wind, but to the deaf a wonder...


NP: Ah Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of bag.

LM: No, bag I said, bag of wind.

CF: Bagpipes, bag of wind.

LM: Bagpipes.

NP: Bagpipes...

LM: Bag of wind.

NP: Bagpipes is all one word.

CF: And he repeated it.

NP: And then he said bag of wind which is a single word.

CF: All one word.

LM: It's three words.

NP: No it's not, it's three words. And you have six seconds available still, another point of course, the best thing about Scotland Lee starting now.

LM: I think that tatty takes...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: He has already thought.

NP: Yes.

LM: So breathing and thinking! Right!

NP: That's right yes, you did say "I think" before, when you were speaking before.

LM: Good.

NP: And you can't repeat again when you start again the words you said before. Clement you've got in with four seconds, on the best thing about Scotland starting now.

CF: Single malt whisky, haggis, Billy Connolly and the University of St Andrew's...


NP: Clement Freud was then speaking as the whistle went, he gained an extra point, he's moved forward. He's equal with Dara O'Briain in second place, and they're both behind the other two who are in first place. And Dara your turn to begin, the subject is self-help books. Sixty seconds as usual and you start now.

DO: Self-help books is a section of a bookshop that I will always walk straight past. Predominantly because they're designed for businessmen. And like most things designed for people who travel the world trying to make things money, they are expressly made so that they can be read one-handed while the second hand is raised in here in a triumphant salute of victory having sealed the Bukowski deal or some such other nonsense. This also applies to dating ones, men may be from Mars, women are from...


DO: Ah!

NP: Lee challenged.

LM: Repetition of men.

NP: Yes there was men before.

LM: I know, we've got two men now.

DO: I have, I have, yeah!

NP: It's very difficult, you have to listen very carefully with you, you go so fast, we wonder if you, you've, you know er, the words...

DO: What?

NP: A certain brilliance...


DO: I think I have you on hesitation there!

NP: I think so yes. But I can't give you a point for it I'm afraid Dara. But all right give him a point for it, a bonus point then, they enjoyed the challenge right. Lee you've got in on self-help books, 39 seconds starting now.

LM: I bought a self-help book recently about memory and for the life of me I can't remember where I put it! But it's a very good read, I'm sure. I also bought one for my friend recently when on...


NP: Dara challenged.

DO: Did I challenge?

NP: Yes!

DO: Okay well I, well if you're forcing me into it, bought, repetition of.

NP: Yeah he did repeat bought. He did repeat bought. Bought one recently and...

LM: I should have nicked it!

NP: That's right, yes! So Dara, you've got in with 31 seconds, you've got the subject back, self-help books starting now.

DO: One should always buy self-help boks. Stealing them, surely, is against the whole credo. Ah it would be ridiculous to have self-help books in a deep pocket as you walked out of the shop. Surely that's against everything that Chicken Soup For The Soul is trying to tell you. Ah another ridiculous school of these kind of things. Like I said, men are from Mars and women are from Venus...


DO: There you are too, sorry.

NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: Yes, like he said.

NP: Like he said. And he had repeated it. Right so Paul you...

PM: Nice to flag out the repetition in advance though! I wouldn't have been quite so quick otherwise!

NP: Yeah right. Yes you do have to listen very carefully with Dara because he can so fast you don't know what he's talking about. The ah, 15 seconds, self-help books with you Paul starting now.

PM: I remember buying a self-help book in 1989 called The Magic Of Thinking Big. And sometimes when you read these volumes, if you're feeling a little bit low in confidence, they actually can give you a bit of a boost by suggesting very obvious things that you can do to maintain your profile and confidence in the world...


NP: So for those interested in the score, only two points separates all four of them. Paul has now taken the lead, one ahead of Lee Mack and Clement Freud, and they're one, they're one ahead of Dara O'Briain. So Clement why don't you take the next round, the subject tattoos. Sixty seconds starting now.

CF: I went to a prep school whose motto was (Latin words), from here to higher things, which all boys had to have tattooed on their forearms. The headmaster went to prison as a consequence. Tattoos are also what trumpets play, especially in the Army where you get Come To The Cookhouse Door, or God Save The Queen. And these are tattoos. I have no idea why the one word is so similar to the other. But it's not my...


NP: Paul you challenged first, yes?

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation, 26 seconds available, tattoos starting now.

PM: They're a quite useful device in society. If somebody's got a spider web tattooed on their face, you know they're never going be Prime Minister, and you should stay away from them. Because I think that kind of mutilation when it's upon your own visage, is surely means you have a low self-esteem. If we look at Nicholas Parsons, it's hard to believe that beneath his body is a rippling mass of tattoos. He has got the A To Z Of Edinburgh...


NP: Ah Lee challenged.

LM: I feel sick again!

NP: So you mean the thought of my body covered in tattoos makes you feel sick?

LM: No I was still thinking about Clement going upstairs and...

NP: I think you deserve a bonus point anyway for the audience reaction. But have you got another legitimate challenge within the rules of Just A Minute?

LM: Ah yes.

NP: What? Deviation?

LM: He deviated yes.

NP: Well done. I know, I don't prepare to strip off in front of this audience and prove that it's incorrect.


NP: Right...

LM: I feel sick again!


NP: I have, ah Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of being sick!

NP: They're all searching for bon us points. No I'm ah, it was deviation because I can assure everybody and I don't cheat, that I don't have any tattoos. So you were correct in your assumption and you have the subject of tattoos Lee, starting now. Oh and only six seconds starting now.

LM: My favourite tattoo is that little fellow from Fantasy Island. He used to go "the plane!" And then say it again but I didn't repeat it which was lucky...


NP: So Lee Mack was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now one ahead of Clement Freud, one behind Paul Merton, and two or three ahead of Dara O'Briain. And Paul it's your turn to begin, Robert Burns. Sixty seconds starting now.

PM: Robert Burns is one of the most noted of all Scottish poets. And who can forget the opening stanza to his wonderful poem, (goes into Scottish sounding gibberish) Sassenach!


NP: Ah Lee you challenged.

LM: Deviation, that was a Japanese poem!

NP: No Paul, it was deviation. So Lee you got in with ah 49 seconds, Robert Burns starting now.

LM: Can anyone really compete with Robert Burns as a...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Linford Christie! He'd give him a good run for his money, wouldn't he!

NP: Yeah! A bonus point to Paul, but Lee was interrupted so he gets another point for that. He still has Robert Burns, as a subject that is, and he has 47 seconds starting now.

LM: As having the biggest lunch-bok in Scotland?


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Lunch-bok?

LM: Yes, lunch-bok! It's a South African lunch-box, all right!

NP: Paul has a correct challenge, 43 seconds, Robert Burns, back with you Paul starting now.

PM: If you were to throw petrol over him, would Robert burn? Well I suppose he probably would.


NP: Ohhh!


NP: You don't have, come up to Scotland and throw petrol over their national poet! But Dara you challenged...

LM: You haven't seen his new show then?

NP: Dara you challenged first.

DO: I challenged yes.

NP: That's right, I'd like to know what your challenge was?

DO: My challenge was hesitation when the audience hate him for saying he was going to set Robert alight.

NP: So that was hesitation, well done Dara. And you have, ah, sorry, I keep taking Janet's hand and pushing it down, and... (laughs)


LM: I've actually been sick now!

NP: Oh dear me! Dara there are 30 second, seconds available, Robert Burns starting now.

DO: The line I best remember from Robert Burns from school was one from The Giftee. I wish that God, that thing gee us, to see ourselves as others would also see... It's very difficult to do the line, particularly under the rules of this particular...


NP: Lee you pressed your buzzer.

LM: I just don't like the sound of his voice!

NP: Well if you can't...

LM: It's all that lilting in noise that I don't like!

NP: We must leave it with Dara as you didn't give me a correct and accurate challenge. So Dara you still have the subject, 23 seconds, Robert Burns starting now.

DO: The poet managed to touch on many universal themes...


NP: Lee challenged.

LM: Deviation, he's just saying something very quick, and he's not making any sense at all! He could have been talking about anything, couldn't he.

NP: He could have been but he thought he was talking about Robert Burns. (goes into Irish sounding gibberish) Because he's Irish.

LM: Oh fair enough!


NP: Dara, 20 seconds to...

DO: Open bigotry and you're applauding it!

NP: No it's affection for the Irish!

DO: Oh is it affection?

NP: Yes.

LM: Yes it is.

DO: You do a great job on the roads, is that what you're saying?

NP: Ah Dara you have another point, and you have Robert Burns, and 20 seconds starting now.

DO: To this day the poet still speaks to us. Robbie Burns has said many things such as "the best laid plans of mice and men aft gang a'gley". And who has not seen their plans often go wrong in situations...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Plans, sadly.

NP: Plans, yes. Difficult to quote Robbie Burns without repeating something.

DO: Especially when you quote him twice. Ah...

NP: Right so 10 seconds for you on Robert Burns, Paul starting now.

PM: I remember studying the poetry of Robert Burns for my A-level. And looking at those marvellous lines as they speak to you down through the centuries. And I thought in my heart...


PM: I've never read a word in my life!

NP: So Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. Has moved forward a little. I'll give you the score as we move into the final round. It's very close still. Dara O'Briain and Clement Freud are equal in third place. But they're only two points behind Lee Mack who is three points behind Paul Merton who is still in the lead. And Dara it's your turn to begin. The subject is now sharks. Tell us something about sharks in Just A Minute starting now.

DO: I know a little bit about this topic because I travelled recently in Australia, up the Great Barrier Reef, where sharks are very ah predominant. And they do give you warnings about how to deal with the animals should you encounter them in the wild. It's not a particularly effective piece of information. Apparently if a shark shoots towards you at 60 miles an hour in the water, you're supposed to stand bobbing in the water, and punch it in...


DO: Ah!

NP: Ohhh! Clement you challenged.

CF: Water twice.

NP: Water yes we had water.

PM: But the thing is here, you see, we've been interrupted because if a shark is swimming towards us, we know, "punch him in the..."? But we don't know what!

CF: I think he should have it!

PM: This programme is going all over the world.

CF: I think, I think he should have it back!

PM: We just don't know!

NP: Well there's a long-time player of the game who has shown his generosity. We'll give you a bonus point for your generosity and your round of applause as well. Not two points, just one point.

CF: No...

NP: Dara you...

CF: No, if I get a bonus point...

NP: You get your bonus point, yes.

CF: I already got one point for interrupting.

NP: Oh yes.

CF: So I get two points!

NP: But it wasn't a legitimate challenge, I want him to have it back! That's not hesitation, repetition or deviation.


NP: Oh shut up! You're not... All right we'll give him his two...

DO: Wait a minute! Wait a minute! So this act of generosity on behalf of Clement merely gets him a point that moves me into last place on my own?

PM: That's true!

NP: I, I will give you...

DO: I would like to formally reject his kind offer! I will leave him in the doldrums with me if I don't, if you don't mind!

NP: You will get another bonus point for that particular interjection which the audience applauded. So another point to Dara there, and you've still got, and you get a point for being interrupted...

DO: Oh right!

NP: Another point to Dara now and you've still got...

DO: If I could finally say that maybe you should really listen back over the tape. This is the kind of cheating that Clement's been doing for 35 years!

NP: I'll give him another...

DO: Oh he comes bearing gifts certainly!

NP: Another bonus point for that, they enjoyed that. So now you're both equal with...

DO: I can keep going with this for a while if you want to keep giving me bonus points!

NP: No you're now equal...

DO: Let's give Clement, let's give Clement a bit of a mountain to climb in the last few minutes, eh?

NP: You're now equal, back equal with Clement. You still have sharks, you have 41 seconds starting now.

DO: I have sharks, but where should you strike them? I believe the key point is to strike them on the nose...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Two strikes.

NP: Two strikes. So Clement you now have sharks, you're going to go with it, 36 seconds available starting now.

CF: During the war one used to eat shark. It was especially good with a Bolognese sauce, but also a hollandaise and even a bechemel. You cut fillets and grilled them, or served them with broad beans which was just about the only vegetable that didn't appear to be rationed during those austerities. I know a woman who had a cook, whose daughter-in-law often served sharks...


NP: Lee challenged.

LM: Sorry what was the subject? I've forgotten now!

NP: Ah sharks.

LM: Oh right, in that case, deviation.

NP: Why?

LM: Because he was talking about some slapper in the war who was cooking him meals! And then he took her upstairs and it's just all a bit disgusting as far as I'm concerned!

NP: Well I think he was still talking about cooking him this shark...

CF: Mmmm which made you feel sick!

LM: Yeah.

NP: But Lee, I think we enjoyed your, your interruption so you get a bonus point for that.

LM: Oh cheers.

NP: But Clement gets his point for an incorrect challenge and he keeps going with 10 seconds on sharks starting now.

CF: There's the expression "a loan shark", which is not sharks but people who lend money at absolutely inappropriate and unacceptable rates...


NP: That lovely round of applause there confirmed to me that you've enjoyed yourself and you want to know what the final situation was. Well it's very fair as regard to points because their contributions were all magnificent right across the board. And particularly from Lee Mack who has never played it before. And Dara O'Briain has only played it once before. You both came together equal in a very strong second place. But only two points ahead, to show you how fair this game can be, because their contributions were all magnificent. Equal in first place, only two points ahead were Paul Merton and Clement Freud! So I thank them all for their wonderful magnificent contribution in this particular edition which is Paul Merton, Lee Mack, Dara O'Briain and Clement Freud. I also thank Janet Staplehurst, who has helped me with the score, and blown her whistle with such elegance. Thank our producer, Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this game. And we are deeply indebted to this lovely Fringe audience here, who have cheered us on our way with magnificent style. I hope they'll come and see all the shows of the people who have appeared in the show. And we'll come back again and we'll do another show from Edinburgh. Until then from me Nicholas Parsons, and our audience, and our team, good-bye, tune in the next time we play Just A Minute! Yes!