starring PAUL MERTON, GRAHAM NORTON, SUE PERKINS and ROSS NOBLE, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 21 February 2005)

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Thank you, thank you, thank you, hello, my name is Nicholas Parsons. And as the Minute Waltz fades away once more it is my huge pleasure to welcome our many listeners, not only in this country but throughout the world. But also to welcome to the programme four exciting, delightful, skilled and talented players of this game. Who once more have come together to pit their wits, their verbal ingenuity and their comic brilliance, as they try and speak on a subject that I give them and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And those four people are, sitting on my right, Paul Merton and Ross Noble. And sitting on my left, Graham Norton and Sue Perkins. Will you please welcome all four of them! Sitting beside me is Janet Staplehurst, who is going to make down a note of the score, she is going to hold a stopwatch, and blow a whistle when the 60 seconds has elapsed. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the Mermaid Theatre. So let's start the show this week with Graham Norton. The subject is the work of William Shakespeare. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

GRAHAM NORTON: The work of William Shakespeare was, I presume, writing. And I use that word very specifically, because there were no typewriters or word processors. When Anne Hathaway polished his apple, that's what she was doing. It wasn't a Mac thing in the back bedroom. No! He was out the front, chasing a goose, trying to get a new pen, because he had a great idea. Some tragedy, or perhaps a comedy, he wrote both, I believe. Some of them had names like Romeo And Juliet, or then he did another one, I remember called (starts laughing)...


NP: Oh you could have gone through the whole gamut of his...

GN: I know!

NP: ... of his 37...

GN: If only I knew any of them!

NP: ... works of art. Right so Sue you challenged first.

SUE PERKINS: Ah hesitation.

NP: Yes indeed right, so you have the subject of the work of William Shakespeare, 27 seconds available, starting now.

SP: My favourite within the canon of Shakespeare is the lost classic Timon Of Croydon where Timon of Athens...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Ah repetition of Timon.

SP: No!

NP: Timon yes yes Timon! Yes lovely joke, which went wrong for repetition. Graham you have the subject back, you have 21 seconds, tell us more about the work of William Shakespeare starting now.

GN: I personally find it very sad that the work of William Shakespeare has more or less been forgotten by most people! You find people, oh there's people...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: People.

NP: Yes these two on my left are just having a little game amongst themselves. So Sue you got in with 13 seconds on the work of William Shakespeare starting now.

SP: This sad man wanders the streets of that sad town... oh!


SP: I'm in a loop now!

NP: I know.

SP: I'm in a loop now!

NP: The pressure gets to you after a time. Paul yes, I'm sure we know your challenge, correctly, the work of William Shakespeare with you, eight seconds starting now.

PAUL MERTON: Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this son of York, and all the clouds that flowered in our house, in the deep bottom of the Auschen berry...


NP: So Paul Merton with his Larry Olivier impersonation kept going till the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now one point ahead of Sue Perkins and a few more in front of Ross Noble and Graham Norton. And Sue your turn to begin, the subject is bread. Tell us something about bread in Just A Minute starting now.

SP: Life is no more rewarding, I've discovered, than when you are advertising bread products. Although not as illuminating as mobile phone warehouses, or unicorns in National Lottery adverts, there is a certain something to be said for spending one's life toiling in the pursuit of gluten based produce. Coming home after a 12 hour day, thinking "I've really done something! Wow what an achievement!" To stand there flogging what is essentially a pre-packaged piece of. And I can say that now, because I'm no longer under contract! I personally...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: I thought hesitation there.

NP: There was a little hesitation.

GN: Yes.

NP: She thought of the contract and she thought "I shouldn't have said that".

SP: Yeah, I was thinking about the loss of earnings to be honest.

NP: That's what I meant. Right Graham, hesitation, 28 seconds for you on bread starting now.

GN: Ironically for Sue Perkins, bread wasn't just a euphemism for money, it actually was cash. Dough is also a word for the stuff you spend...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of word.

NP: Yes, two words there. Yes so Paul you've got in with 18 seconds on bread starting now.

PM: It was a very popular series written by Carla Lane, set in Liverpool. I never...


NP: Ross challenged.

ROSS NOBLE: Was it that popular?

PM: Yeah it was! Yes, lots of people watched it. I never saw it but it was very popular.

NP: It was, I did see it and it was very very popular.

RN: Oh dear, that makes me...

PM: Yes.

RN: That makes me sad, I withdraw the challenge.

NP: You can't, it's too late. So Paul gets a point and ah 15 seconds on bread Paul starting now.

PM: I have an allergy to wheat and glutens, so bread isn't particularly good stuff for me to be eating. There is however a new product on the market called ceiling tiles, and they're absolutely delicious. They're made out of foam and little bits of rubber. And what you do is you put...


NP: Paul Merton was again speaking as the whistle went, gained the extra point. And he has increased his lead at the end of the round. And Paul it's also your turn to begin. And here's a subject very close to where we are now, old father Thames. Tell us something about that magnificent river in this game starting now.

PM: Well it's just outside.


PM: It's over there.

NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Ah hesitation.

NP: It was hesitation. But Paul delivered that with such panache. He was going for his laugh, he got his laugh, a round of applause, give him a bonus point. But Ross Noble had a correct challenge, he gets his point, and he has 58 seconds, old father Thames starting now.

RN: Old father Thames is a dirty old bloke, who hangs around by the docks and then usually ends up in Margate! That's right, that's how he spends his...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of that's.

NP: Of what?

SP: That's.

NP: That's. Sue has the point, Sue has the subject, 48 seconds, old father Thames starting now.

SP: We don't hear about old mother Thames. While old father Thames is loitering around estuaries, she's at home baking cakes for their sons, Bryan and Jonty. And also she's having to cope with the fact that old father Thames is having an affair with Lavia La Senne...


NP: Graham you challenged.

GN: I think deviation, she's talking about old mother Thames.

NP: Well she's talking about all kinds of rubbish, I think!

SP: I tried to establish the family!

GN: And there was hesitation.

NP: Yes there was, right. Right Graham...

GN: Yes?

NP: Correct challenge.

GN: Yes.

NP: You have 33 seconds on old father Thames starting now.

GN: Old Father Thames was a priest who taught in my school. Father Thames was very keen on tennis and soccer and other sports. I didn't see a lot of him! Old Father Thames...


GN: ... died!

SP: Hesitation.

NP: Yes.

GN: I was just being respectful!

NP: No. Graham had the benefit of the doubt on that before, you have it this time, and you have 21 seconds on old father Thames starting now.

SP: Back to old mother Thames who was the bedrock in...


NP: Ross has challenged.

RN: Repetition of mother.

NP: Mother, you had mother Thames before.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Right so Ross you have...

PM: Very good challenge! Very good challenge! Excellent chairman as well! The best we've got!

NP: Nineteen seconds Ross on old father Thames starting now.

RN: Grab a barge and jump on his back and ride him all day long! That's what I would do given half a chance. If I had the where...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Hesitation.

NP: Yes I think so, Sue.

RN: Oh!

NP: Right 11 seconds, old father Thames with you starting now.

SP: Part of the beautiful historical fabric of London is the river Thames which runs centrally winding fashion. Also known as the Serpentine which coils elegantly down...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Oh maybe I'm just a fool! Is it?

NP: It's not the Serpentine.

GN: I didn't think it was the Serpentine.

NP: The Serpentine is...

GN: Is it called the Serpentine?

SP: Isn't it?

NP: No.

PM: No no.

GN: That's a lake, isn't it? That's a lake that kind of tourists fall in.

NP: Yes that's right, you have a correct challenge.

SP: I come from Croydon, concrete county!

NP: Graham a correct challenge, three seconds...

GN: What is it?

SP I feel robbed! I thought that was the Thames. The man said "this is the Thames, swim in it!" It was the Serpentine!

RN: If you want to get outside, you actually will be robbed!

NP: Three seconds Graham!

SP: Oh oh!

NP: On old father Thames starting now.

GN: Old father Thames is the river and I live quite near it. I live in...


NP: Right so Graham Norton then speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point of course. And he's now in a strong third place, just behind Sue Perkins who is just behind Paul Merton, and Ross Noble for once is trailing a little. And Ross it's your turn to begin, the subject is how to eat spaghetti. Can you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

RN: I find the best way to eat spaghetti is off the head of a bald man. That way he feels as if he has lovely long hair, but he doesn't. He provides you with an ample platter...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: There were a lot of hes. There were a lot of hes.

NP: There were a lot of hes, yes. A tough challenge but I think it's accurate. And 49 seconds Paul on how to eat spaghetti starting now.

PM: Use a fork and a spoon, that's the idea. You get hold of one utensil, you get the forked element...


NP: Ah Ross challenged. You see he's...

RN: He led me up the cul-de-sac of danger!

NP: No he just...

RN: It was a classic manoeuvre that I fell right into! Damn you Merton! Damn you to hell!

NP: You can be too sharp, but on the other hand you can be too clever as well. But there we are, Ross an incorrect challenge. Paul you still have how to eat spaghetti, 44 seconds starting now.

PM: It's an Italian dish, and if you want to know how best to eat it, then you really should go to Italy. Because there are experts arranged in front of you. People who say to themselves "I can eat spaghetti and I can show you how it is consumed in Napoli". And they will take hold of the pasta, twirl their implements into it, lift it up to their mouth and swallow it all in one go, the pieces of spaghetti go down into the gullet, in towards the stomach where it settles for about 20, 45 minutes. Then the most extraordinary thing happens...


PM: How long is this minute going to last?

NP: Sue.

SP: Repetition of then.

NP: Then yes there were one or two thens.

PM: Was there? It's true yeah.

GN: Thank God, I just wanted somebody to stop it!

NP: I thought it was...

GN: I sort of knew where it was going!

PM: Not necessarily!

NP: Oh you're back on form Graham, I must say! Right ah Sue you had a correct challenge, how to eat spaghetti, 13 seconds starting now.

SP: I like to eat spaghetti via a series of pulleys and levers, an intricate elaborate system which enables enormous bucketloads of pasta...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Was that repetition of system?

NP: No. No.

SP: No.

GN: This is so random now, isn't it? No?

RN: No no no no, it was a, it was a series, it was a series, then a system. I'm a fool to myself!

NP: You're a fool to yourself. Incorrect challenge Sue so how to eat spaghetti, six seconds starting now.

SP: I place a funnel in my mouth and at the other end Antonio Carlucci stands pouring...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Sorry I didn't hear that. What...

NP: Antonio Carlucci.

PM: A funnel at one end and what was it?

SP: Antonio Carlucci.

PM: Who's he?

GN: He was at the other.

SP: He's that big Italian chef.

PM: Is he?

SP: Yeah.

NP: Yes.

PM: And that's the best way to eat spaghetti?

SP: That's the way he told me.

PM: Deviation, I don't think that's the best way to eat spaghetti with a big Italian chef, what do you think Nicholas?

NP: Well no, it wasn't that, she was saying she was told by Antonio Carlucci, Carculetti...

PM: Oh was she?

NP: Yes she was.

SP: I'm just going on his expertise.

PM: Oh okay fair enough, well if he told you that, that's fine.

SP: Yeah.

NP: Yes yes.

GN: (laughs) I'm sensing a letter!

NP: They're so keen. Right two seconds still with you Sue on how to eat spaghetti starting now.

SP: As a slide of gluten based produce...


NP: So Sue Perkins was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And with others in the round, her spaghetti round gave her a lot of points. And she has leapt forward and she's now equal in the lead with Paul Merton. Yes just ahead of Graham Norton and Ross Noble in that order. And Graham your turn to begin, the subject is leading ladies. Tell us something about leading ladies in this game starting now.

GN: Dame Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, CBE, Vanessa Redgrave, Amanda Holden. These are all wonderful actresses lighting up the British theatre in the early part of the 21st century. We applaud them and thank them for their skill and...


GN: Are you out of your mind? Have you become Americans? I say we applaud and you do!


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of applaud.

NP: Yes.

GN: Yes. (laughs) Bizarre!

NP: You must understand we've got this audience so hyped up now, they're going to do anything! I mean if we all told them to stand on their chairs and take their trousers down, they probably would!


NP: No! I mean, that was a joke!

PM: (laughs) There's one bloke at the back, "at last, my kind of show"! (laughs) Yes!

NP: Right so Paul you had a correct challenge or were the first to challenge. All the buzzers went but yours came in first, 33 seconds, tell us something about leading ladies starting now.

PM: Amongst the many leading ladies of the 20th century, perhaps none greater than Lillian Gish in the movies. A magnificent actress, she started appearing in films around about 1908, and carried it all the way through to I think about... no...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation because he knew 19 was coming up again.

PM: I'd already been there.

NP: And 19 seconds back with you Sue on leading ladies starting now.

SP: The best way to lead a lady, according to Debretts, is via a velveteen muzzle placed round her. She should then be dragged through the living chamber, pausing with blinkers on so that she doesn't notice the Italian viscount or the porcelain tea service. These are things that will distract a lady. She must be tethered...



NP: Oh wait a minute, Ross challenged just as the...

RN: There was a repetition of lady.

NP: Yes. Because the subject is ladies.

GN: Oh!

PM: Yes, see what he's done there! Yes!

NP: So Ross you've got in with half a second to go on leading ladies starting now.

RN: Leading...


NP: So Ross Noble endeavouring to speak as the whistle went gained an extra point for doing so.


NP: I should explain to our listeners, that reaction then was because Ross Noble felt somewhat embarrassed by the last challenge. He managed to slink almost under the table on the back of his chair. It wasn't a very elegant position but the audience found it amusing. I have to explain these things because as we have an unseen audience of course. And I'm being sent up again by Ross Noble and Paul Merton, they're going to look behind the curtain for this unseen audience. And the unseen audience is at the end of their radio sets or their wireless sets or wherever. And um, or maybe at their Internet because that's where you often hear the show. Do you want to hear the score at the end of that round?

GN: Oh, let's!

NP: Ross Noble and Graham Norton are equal in second place. And Sue Perkins and Paul Merton are equal in first place. Sue Perkins it's your turn to begin, the subject is smoothies. Tell us something about smoothies in this game starting now.

SP: The best way to make a smoothy is take Clive Owen, Pierce Brosnan and Alistair Stewart, pop them into a food processor, and blitz for 19 seconds. At the end of which there'll be a charming orange puree which stinks somewhat of cheese and has a redolent whiff of cologne. When drinking it, you'll be transported magically to the casinos of Monaco, where you'll want to put down chips and stare into the cleavages of buxom ladies, all called Candy. "More", you shout, as this breathless whirl of excitement carries you on through, up the stairway where a man in a dinner jacket looks longingly, and says "come this way". He may be Russian, who knows, it's too early to say. His Middle East European accent luring into a strange world, down again into the recesses, to an odd serial killer like figure with a strange pistol in his pocket, who points it at you and says... (pauses)


SP: Because he's mute!

NP: No sorry darling, it's too late now, you've been challenged. You went for 54 seconds before you collapsed! The audience loved it! They were a bit generous because they wanted to see you go on and suffer! So what we'll do is, because you suffered, we'll give you a bonus point for that. Right, but Paul was the first to challenge on the hesitation, so correct challenge to you Paul. Eight seconds, is it eight, no, it's only six seconds to go starting now.

PM: George Sanders, the film star specialised in playing the role of smoothies in various movies...


NP: So at the end of that round Paul Merton got an extra point for speaking as the whistle went. He's one ahead of Sue Perkins, and a few ahead of Graham Norton and Ross Noble. And Paul it's also your turn to begin, and the subject now is hot pants. I'm sure you know a lot about that subject. Tell us something about it in this game starting now.

PM: The fashion of hot pants coincided with my adolescence and er...


PM: Sorry, what were we talking about?

NP: It brought back memories and you dried up.

PM: It did, I'm afraid.

NP: Right yes, Ross you challenged first.

RN: Hesitation.

PM: Fantastic fashion!

NP: Hesitation yes, 56 seconds on hot pants starting now.

RN: A friend of mine got in terrible trouble, due to hot pants. It wasn't the sort of injury, you'd imagine, IE, circulation troubles. This fellow I know put his trousers into the microwave oven, thinking that he could dry them out, which was fine, it worked a treat, until the... bit of metal...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Hesitation.

NP: That's a hesitation. Yes correct challenge, 38 seconds, hot pants starting now.

SP: Hot pants were a lot more successful than their prototype, chilly pants, which consisted of tubes of ice stretching down your thigh which you would strap together with pieces of elastoplast. You would then venture out on a chilly day, men in particular...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Have we had chilly before?

NP: We had chilly before. Yes.

SP: Yep.

NP: We did have two chillys and so that's a repetition. Twenty-four seconds are still available Paul, hot pants starting now.

PM: Pan's People!


NP: Graham you challenged first, yes?

GN: It sounded like hesitation, I don't like to let him, you know.

NP: Yes.

GN: Drifting into reverie!

NP: I think, I've done it before so I'll have to do it again. Paul played for a laugh, and didn't want the subject again so he gets his bonus point for that. Graham you challenged correctly, you have 22 seconds, hot pants starting now.

GN: One of the great pleasures of the British winter is when you get up in the morning, and you go into the shower, to put your pants on the radiator, knowing that when you come back, they'll be toasty and warm! You can see slip into them, and that's really the highlight of your day, isn't it! Let's face it, it doesn't get better than that! It's absolutely...


NP: So Graham Norton speaking as the whistle went has moved forward. He's still in fourth place, but he's moved forward, but he's equal now with Ross Noble.

GN: Great!

RN: Woohoo!

NP: But he's trailing Sue Perkins and Paul Merton in that order. Ross, it's your turn to begin. Ross Noble, play school, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

RN: Play School was a freaky programme where two bears and an egg would tell children to look through windows. Now that's not the sort of behaviour that I feel we should be passing on to kids. I mean if two of those woodland creatures approached me...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of two.

NP: Yes.

PM: Yes yes.

GN: A nation has spoken!

NP: Forty-six seconds Sue on play school starting now.

SP: Whatever happened to Hamble, the discarded sinister one that nobody really liked?


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Became Home Secretary!


NP: Paul the audience reaction tells me that you deserve a bonus point for that interjection. But Sue was interrupted so she gets a point and she keeps the subject of play school and there are 41 seconds starting now.

SP: Chloe Ashcroft would often stick knitting needles up this poor unfortunate thing in an effort to make it look a little more spry and stand erect. But truth be told, when the show was formatted in Europe, strangely it disappeared from view, and audiences in Asia...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes, you couldn't think of any more continents.

SP: No, but then I thought the Serpentine was connected to the Thames so...

NP: So you have 25 seconds on play school starting now.

PM: Bryan Cant, there's a man who was brave, wasn't he? To enter show business. And indeed Florella Benjamin was one of those people as well who used to appear on Play School. And children were exhorted every morning to look through the square window or perhaps even peer through the rectangular one. It was always a bit of a game, you never knew which windows were going to come up next. Because although there was three of them, any one could be picked on any particular day. And so...


NP: So Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And I've just been told that we only have one more time for one more round.


PM: Aw!

GN: The correct response!

NP: Well...

PM: No, I think we should play it for 24 hours non-stop!


NP: Well we've created a party spirit here which is wonderful. And as this has been...

GN: This is a party?

NP: I'll give you the situation as we move into the final round. And Graham Norton and Ross Noble are almost equal. They can't be almost equal, no, they're not equal. Graham's one point behind Ross Noble, third and fourth place.

GN: Yeah yeah.

NP: Sue Perkins who, last time at the Mermaid, did rather well, but she's done even better this time. She's trailing our leader at the moment who is Paul Merton, he's three points ahead of her. We move into the final round and Graham it's your turn to begin, and the subject is golden oldies. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

GN: Recently I visited Florida where there are a lot of people who could be described as golden oldies. Because they've turned their skin into a reliable source of industrial leather. By lying out, for several years, decades in some cases. They go there because it's warm, but they don't understand that you don't have to be in the...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of don't.

NP: Yes.

GN: Really?

NP: Yes.

PM: Mmmm.

GN: Yes.

PM: Yes.

NP: And 38 seconds with you Sue on golden oldies starting now.

SP: Golden oldies is a media term to describe people who won't go away, like Tony Blackburn. He similarly has the face of a golf bag, leather lined, windbeaten, as he stares into the sun and the dermatological layers thicken and puff with the heat of the sun's rays. "Wow", he thinks to myself...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Repetition of sun.

NP: Yes the sun was there before.


GN: Oh shut up! We've had enough of your opinions! The kind gentleman at the beginning, bleep bleep bleep bleep.

NP: It was apostrophe S, on the sun's.

GN: Yes.

NP: Yes right so it is sunny.

GN: You and your big mouths! I had him!

NP: Graham it's with you.

GN: Oh I get it? Oh oh!

NP: Twenty-one seconds, golden oldies starting now, yes, starting now.

GN: Oh The Golden Oldies, a fantastic song!


GN: Am I still talking?

NP: No no no. I'm going to give it to you, in fairness, you didn't realise. Twenty-one seconds Graham starting now.

GN: (very slowly and drawn out) Golden oldies are tunes that we adore to listen to over and again. I find my favourites are usually by The Carpenters or sometimes by The Osmonds or...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Sorry, he's whipping me up into a light coma here! For a moment I didn't think I was going to live long enough to get to the end of the word Osmonds!

NP: I think he was drawing out his words to such an extent that...

SP: Too drawn out for Paul.

GN: Sorry.

NP: It almost was hesitation. So um I don't know quite what to say about that.

PM: It almost was?

NP: It almost was.

GN: But was it?

NP: Listen everybody's had the benefit of the doubt, except you Paul. So I give you the benefit of the doubt on this occasion because if you speak as slowly as that there is no game. So you have three seconds to say, take on golden oldies starting now.

PM: Emerson, Lake and Palmer.


NP: Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point for doing so. I'm just going to have a quick drink of water, so just chat among yourselves at home.

GN: We've been chatting amongst ourselves all night!

NP: Right because I need to give you the final... I'm sorry. (clears throat three times)

PM: Do you...

NP: My laryngitis has caught up on me. Right...

PM: Do you want to suck a fisherman's friend?

NP: What is that, a mermaid? I will give you the final score in this delightful edition of Just A Minute. Graham Norton and Ross Noble are actually equal with the same amount of points, well they would be! (laughs) You know, this show gets to you after a time! In third place. They're just behind Sue Perkins who did extraordinarily well with lots of points. But she didn't quite catch up Paul Merton, who is out in the lead so we say this week Paul Merton you are the winner! Thank you. It only remains for me to say thank you to these four delightful, intrepid and outstanding players of the game, Paul Merton, Graham Norton, Ross Noble and Sue Perkins. I also thank Janet Staplehurst, who has blown her whistle so delicately for us. We thank our producer who is Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created of this game. And we are very grateful to this lovely audience here at the Mermaid Theatre in Puddledock in Blackfriars who have come from goodness knows where to enjoy themselves. I think they have, we have. From them, from me Nicholas Parsons, and the team, good-bye, tune in the next time we play Just A Minute! Yes! Yes!