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, those who listen to us on Radio Four, BBC Seven, the Internet and around the world. But also most importantly to welcome to the show four really fine, skilled exponents of this game who have come together to show their humorous skills and expertise and verbal dexterity as speak on a subject that I give them, and they try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And they are, seated on my right, Paul Merton and Sue Perkins. And seated on my left, Tony Hawks and Charles Collingwood. Please welcome all four of them! And seated beside me is Charlotte Davies, she is going to help me with the score, and she will blow a whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the magnificent Theatre Royal in the heart of that fine city of Newcastle, in that great area of the British Isles, Tyneside. We begin the show this week with Tony Hawks. Tony, the subject is oh dear, I'm nervous of this one, the chairman's best kept secret. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

TONY HAWKS: This was a very emotional moment for me a few years back when Nicholas took me aside a few minutes before a recording and said "Tony, I first met your mother nine months before you were born." I was a little bit shocked, sick in fact...


NP: Charles challenged.

CHARLES COLLINGWOOD: He hesitated before he said sick.

NP: I know, he was so carried away with this humorous thought.

CC: Yes.

NP: And the devious thought.

CC: Exactly!

NP: I've never met his mother! Do you think, do you think he looks a little bit like me?

TH: Oh come on Dad, let me off!

NP: Charles you had a correct challenge, so you get a point for that, you take over the subject, there are 46 seconds available, the chairman's best kept secret starting now.

CC: Quite obviously the chairman's best kept secret is his secret of eternal youth...


NP: Sue challenged.

SUE PERKINS: There was a slight hesitation.

NP: No no no, there wasn't.

CC: Emotion!

NP: I think that was too sharp there Sue. So as I say that was an incorrect challenge, so Charles you have another point and you have 40 seconds on the chairman's best kept secret starting now.

CC: Having seen his birth certificate which is dated nearly 200 years ago, it is extraordinary that this gentleman still looks younger than the rest of us on this panel. Sue...


NP: Paul challenged.

PAUL MERTON: I don't think Nicholas looks younger than Sue Perkins.

NP: No.

CC: I was just coming to that, Sue Perkins excepted I was about to say.

PM: Oh.

CC: But you interrupted because you just had to.

PM: Yes.

NP: It was a correct challenge Charles. Charles tried to justify it but I think too late. So on this occasion I'll give the benefit of the doubt to you, you have a point for that, 29 seconds, the chairman's best kept secret starting now.

PM: During the war he worked as a prostitute in Dunkirk.


NP: Sue challenged. What did you say?

PM: You know the thing we don't talk about?

NP: Oh right. What's your challenge Sue?

SP: Hesitation, I thought he'd finished.

NP: Yeah.

PM: I'd made my point.

SP I think he had.

NP: After such a outrageous remark, he deserved to hesitate. So Sue, you have a correct challenge, you take over the subject, the chairman's best kept secret, 26 seconds starting now.

SP: Three Ways Nicky, they used to call him as he walked along in small skirt and high click-clack heels. Everybody loved a piece of him. "To Bob," he'd scream, and they'd flock from here and everywhere for a piece of the man...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: I just wanted to say it's all true! All true!

NP: I'll tell you what is true! (speaks unintelligibly in Geordie accent) at Sunderland. (normal voice) So it's an incorrect challenge, you keep the subject, and you have 12 seconds starting now.

SP: What on earth is that accent? Let's muse on it for a second. It could be Gateshead or Sunderland or a vague composite, it doesn't matter...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Quite a lot of ors close together there.

NP: Yes a lot of ors.

PM: Yes, how ironic!

NP: After the remark you made about me, very! A lot of ors there! Right Tony, the chairman's best kept secret and there are six seconds starting now.

TH: The best kept secret of Chairman Mao was that he was a huge cribbage fan. Every Thursday evening he'd...


NP: In this game, whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Tony Hawks, at the end of that round, they all have two points except Paul who only has one. And it's early days...

SP: He spoke the truth about what happened! Sometimes just to be true doesn't get you points in this world.

NP: I don't know what you're going on about. And Sue Perkins will you take the next round, oh I think this is a local subject, brown ale. Tell us something about brown ale in this game Sue starting now.

SP: This exquisite nectar flows down the throat and immediately makes one want to rip clothes off, either of oneself or another person in the nearby vicinity. This is witnessed late at night in Newcastle as women wander around with next to nothing, a couple of straps attached to gauze holding their enormous breasts. It is the quintessential drink of this county...


NP: Charles challenged.

CC: Sorry we've had three thises.


CC: Well I know.

SP: And I was waxing lyrical about this beverage.

CC: You had been but I thought the wax had got a bit melted now.

NP: No...

CC: I mean, not two thises, three thises.

NP: The audience endorsed the fact that they loved her quintessential waxing there, 36 seconds still available, brown ale with you Sue starting now.

SP: The bottle is adorned with a single blue star, which is nothing in comparison with the 50 of them you'll see later on, as you like in a gutter, smelling of urine. They support also the finest football team, Newcastle United, which frankly has had a bit of a downturn of late, due to poor management and Michael Owen, who is never match-fit. Guess what, if he ever goes to Liverpool, he'll spring back into action...


NP: Yes Charles?

CC: She's no longer talking about brown ale.

SP: They sponsor Newcastle United.

CC: She's just done 20 seconds on Michael Owen and people who are never going to be fit.

NP: Yeah but she did make the association between Newcastle United and Michael Owen playing for Newcastle United and she was waxing lyrical about brown ale. I think there is some justification in your challenge, I have to give the benefit of the doubt to Sue Perkins, and say Sue, another point, and the subject still, 14 seconds starting now.

SP: Pierce the cap, throw it away, drink deep on a liquid that can only taste like nectar. Hospitals...


NP: Paul's challenged.

PM: I think we've had drink before.

NP: Yes you had a drink before yes.

SP: I've had many drinks before. I'm a fan.

NP: There we are, well, with no drinks at all, you were really lyrical on that one. Um well hysterical on that one. Eight seconds Paul on brown ale starting now.

PM: They say to enjoy beer at its best, you should always consume it in the place where its produced. For example Guinness always tastes better...


NP: Charles challenged.

CC: Two always.

NP: Yes always, always.

PM: Yes.

NP: Charles you got in at last with one second to go, brown ale starting now.

CC: There is nothing in this world I'd rather...


NP: So Charles with other points, including one for speaking as the whistle went, has moved forward. He's taken the lead, one ahead of Sue, and two ahead of Paul, and three ahead of Tony in that order. I don't know why I do that silly voice, I don't know. Right Paul, it's your turn to start, a good plot. That's a nice subject, talk on it if you can, 60 seconds starting now.

PM: A good plot is essential to a story. The narrative twists and turns, it takes the reader, listener or viewer down a path one way and then perhaps another until there's a denouement at the end though no-one could possibly have predicted. Alfred Hitchcock's films are noted for their famous plots. If we look at something like Psycho, it was absolutely revolutionary at the time, to kill off the heroine 30 minutes into the film. And yet that's exactly what he did. And also we look at something like North By...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Ah repetition of look at.

NP: Yes and something as well, so Tony...

TH: Very good though. Oh he was on form, he was on fire, he was.

NP: I know he was. They're a very partisan audience, they go with the mood, and once they're with it, they don't want to lose the person! So Tony you got in with a correct challenge, those are the rules of the game, 34 seconds available, a good plot starting now.

TH: Five performers arrive in Newcastle for a long running panel game. One is murdered after the show. The finger all points to the Admiral Collingwood who had come back on the deck. But no, this would be a plot perhaps with some flaws, particularly since...


NP: Charles challenged.

CC: Sorry but he said perhaps twice.

NP: You did indeed yes.

CC: You said perhaps Admiral Collingwood and perhaps a plot.

TH: Oh.

NP: I should, by the way I should explain, I should explain to our listeners that Tony was actually referring back to a previous time when we were here in Newcastle, and Admiral Collingwood was one of the subjects and that's why he reintroduced it.

PM: How do they know that though?

SP: Is he the homosexual?

NP: It's just sort of ah north-east Tyneside empathy. They got the message. So a good plot is with you Charles and 15 seconds available starting now.

CC: I have to say that having been in The Archers a very long time, the one thing I yearn for as an actor is a good plot! Because quite clearly I'm finding myself...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: How can you say that? There was the whole sausage factory, that went on for years!

CC: How dare you call Shivaughan a sausage factory!

NP: So have you a challenge within the rules of Just A Minute?

SP: No, just an unpleasant image in my head now!

NP: So have I indeed, but Charles it wasn't a correct challenge so you have a point for that and you have a good plot still and there are seven seconds starting now.

CC: It's certainly not a good plot if the writers have just got you walking across a field of oilseed rape looking at this corn...


NP: So Charles Collingwood is living up to the reputation of his ancestors who came from this part of the world, and he's now in the lead, quite a strong lead actually, ahead of Sue and Tony and Paul in that order. And Tony it's your turn to begin, oh, very topical subject for this part of the world, ship building. A sad subject too, there are 60 seconds starting now.

TH: I don't know a huge amount about ship building. In fact, this will surprise you, but I have built hardly any ships. When I was 14 I had a go at a 45 foot cabin cruiser, but then I had a table tennis tournament and had to stop. My brother built a mine sweeper later that week, and he moved up to Newcastle where there is a bit of a reputation for ship building. It's difficult to say whether this area, Tyne-in-were is better at building these things than...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of building.

NP: That's right.

SP: Building twice.

NP: You said building twice.

TH: Yes, it's true, the subject is ship building, but that's one word unless I can try and pretend it's two words.

NP: No, ship building is spelled as one word.

TH: Yes.

NP: Sue you have a correct challenge, you have ship building and you have 33 seconds starting now.

SP: I also know very little about ship building, but I imagine one of the founding principles is that it doesn't sink. Therefore do not build any ships with holes in. Admiral Collingwood, obviously the famous Admiral from these parts, knew all...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of Admiral.

NP: Yes you had the Admiral twice.

CC: My God, she should walk the gangplank for that!

SP: Yes! You don't know the half of it, Nicholas!

NP: Well, having an Admiral twice, I think, is quite an experience! The ah, Paul, a correct challenge, 22 seconds on ship building starting now.

PM: At the beginning of the Falklands War, Elvis Costello wrote a beautiful song called Ship Building, and was sung by Robert Wyatt which was one of the year's unusual hits. There is something romantic, isn't there, about the whole idea of building a ship. To be able to travel across the water at speed, to visit foreign countries, and to come back and say "do you know where you've been? I've been..." oh!


NP: And Tony you cleverly got in with two seconds to go. Ship building is with you starting now.

TH: Gloria Hunniford once said...


PM: Deviation, it's completely off the subject of ship building.

NP: Well he only said two words.

PM: Yeah I know...

NP: It could well have been that she wanted to be in ship building or she...

SP: She never built a ship, Gloria, never!

NP: But she comes from Belfast, another ship building area, so there's a connection. That's probably what he was going to say.

CC: I'm with my friend over here.

PM: Are you his agent? Are you his agent?

CC: No I am, and I'm all for him.

NP: I am always fair, he didn't have a chance to get a connection between Gloria Hunniford and ship building, and I'm sure there was one coming up.

PM: Oh really?

NP: Yeah. Benefit of...

SP: Can we all say names of personalities and try and link them to the erstwhile ship building industry.

NP: You've only got half a second to get a laugh on ship building starting now.

TH: Petula Clark...


NP: Tony Hawks was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point and he's equal with Paul in third place which is unusual for both of them. They're one behind Sue Perkins and she's about four behind Charles Collingwood. So Charles you're doing well and you take the next subject which is being an only child. I don't know whether you are or not, but will you talk on that subject, 60 seconds starting now.

CC: It so happens that I am an only child, a child of the wartime, 1943 I was born. And my mother didn't have any more little babies after me. I don't care because I was a spoilt brat and I loved all the toys and trinkets that Mummy and Daddy gave me all those years through my childhood...


NP: Sue you challenged.

SP: Repetition of all.

CC: Oh shut up!

NP: You so upset him, he was just about to get more sympathy for his... well not sympathy actually, I just think... anyway you had a correct challenge Sue, and you have the subject of being an only child, 40 seconds available starting now.

SP: I was not an only child but one of three, and the eldest, therefore I had all the responsibility and had to share everything particularly at mealtimes where my brother would put a fork into my hand...


NP: Tony why have you challenged?

TH: Because she's talking about being a child, one of three. And I'm not interested. I only want to learn, I only want to learn about being an only child in this round.

NP: Now that's a difficult decision isn't it. Because she did start off by saying...

PM: If you're the eldest, you were an only child at one point!

NP: Yeah, no, she was talking about...

PM: Yes.

TH: I put it to you Nicholas, she was about to tell us a story about what happened with her brother.

SP: I put it to you...

NP: Listen, stop arguing! You didn't give her a chance to go far enough. She did establish that she was not an only child and was on that particular tack. And this is a case of benefit of the doubt because I think you have some justification Tony. But I give the benefit of the doubt to Sue, you keep the subject Sue, 33 seconds, being an only child starting now.

SP: The first three years of my life were a wasteland, I didn't know what was going on...


NP: Charles challenged.

CC: Repetition of three.

PM: One of three.

NP: You were one of three.

CC: One of three.

NP: Oh Charles you're listening well, 30 seconds, tell us more about being an only child starting now.

CC: I wonder if in the audience there are many only children. "Are there?" I ask myself. And I'm not getting any hands put up. So obviously I'm the only only child here...


NP: Paul challenged. Yes?

CC: Is it the word only that's on the card Paul?

PM: Yeah I'm trying to think of something else! But I can't! So yes I was going to challenge for only but...

NP: I know, only, yes, it's quite a subtle one of his on his part. And you did get lots of hands from the audience. One woman put up two hands, I don't know what...

CC: Well she was an only twin!

NP: Twenty-one seconds Charles, still with you on being an only child starting now.

CC: It's beginning to be a bit lonely being an open child here, because in the end I have to talk to myself and not to...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: He said myself before. I asked myself.

CC: Okay yes, fair enough.

NP: Yes fair enough yes, 14 seconds with you Paul, being an only child starting now.

PM: Up to the age of seven I was an only child. My sister Angela was born at that time. But I do remember those halcyon days and years when my mother looked at me as an absolute miracle of birth, and used to give me dresses to wear. And I'd wander...


NP: And Paul it's your turn to begin and the subject now is will power. Can you tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PM: It's an essential ingredient if you want to succeed in show business. Because when you start off, early on there is various setbacks. It's not always easy to succeed in a particular branch of entertainment when other people are trying to get to the same place as you. Will power...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: I was deliberating for a long time there, but I think he said succeed twice.

NP: You're right Tony.

PM: Three people agree with you!

NP: And so Tony you have a correct challenge, you have will power and 47 seconds starting now.

TH: If you are determined enough you can talk for 47 seconds on any subject that is given to you.


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Not if you're interrupted!

NP: Paul you're quite right but...

PM: Deviation! You can't talk, you can't just do it, it's deviation.

NP: Yes but on the other hand, the statement he has made is also correct.

PM: Is it?

NP: Yes. So he made a correct statement, but yours was a very interesting challenge so we give you a bonus point for a very clever interesting interruption...

PM: Lovely! Thank you very much! Excellent chairman! Excellent chairman! Best chairman we've got! Best chairman we've got!

NP: And so Tony you get a point for being interrupted and you keep will power, and you have 42 seconds starting now.

TH: Not that long ago, I watched the final of the French Open at Rolangares. I was most impressed by Raphael Ladal's will power. How he saw off Federer was quite impressive...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Slight hesitation.

NP: There was a slight hesitation. Yes, 31 seconds, will power is with you Sue starting now.

SP: I used to smoke many cigarettes a day and couldn't possibly give up through will power alone. So I enabled the help of a hypnotherapist who looked me square in the eyes which are googly and a little bit like Carl the Snake from The Jungle Book...


NP: Charles challenged.

CC: I think she was hesitating.

NP: Yes we interpret that...

SP: Well I was in his spell!

PM: Yeah!

CC: Well you're going to be in mine now for a few seconds.

NP: You can't go into a hypnotic spell in order to carry on playing Just A Minute Sue.

SP: That's the best way to do it.

TH: It's one of the rules that doesn't actually get announced at the beginning, but no going into a hypnotic spell.

PM: Well I have to tell you that I have to be hypnotised before I can do this show.

NP: Sue we give that, we interpret that as hesitation, so will power is with you Charles starting now.

CC: I have enormous will power. None of you in this room can understand the control I exert upon myself in having...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Slight hesitation there. Mysssssself.

NP: I don't...

PM: I'm dying to know what he's stopping himself from doing!

CC: Well you may get a chance to find out.

NP: In fact you're going to find out because I don't think he really hesitated enough to call it a penalty within the rules of Just A Minute. So benefit of the doubt on this occasion to Charles, he keeps the subject, will power, 11 seconds starting now.

CC: Will Power was a little spotty boy who lived in my street when I was a tiny child in Hampshire. And he got this tube of Valderma and squirted them all over his face. And do you know those little pumps all...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of little.

NP: There was too many littles.

CC: All right, so there were, sorry about that.

NP: So Paul you got in with half a second to go on will power starting now.

PM: Swarfega...


NP: So Charles, Paul Merton was speaking then as the whistle went, he's moved forward, he's now in second place. He's behind Charles Collingwood who is in the lead and we're moving into the final round, I'm sad to say. And in third place equal are Sue and Tony Hawks. Sue and Tony Hawks? I'm sorry, Sue Perkins and Tony Hawks, they're not married yet. After playing this game for this length of time we get hysterical sometimes and I am absolutely out on a...

CC: Have there been a lot of weddings over the years, Nicholas, in the programme?

SP: We'll be the first Just A Minute wedding!

CC: This could be rather a moment tonight, couldn't it!

NP: My name may be Parsons but I don't marry people!

SP: There'd be lots of problems with the vows though, with repetition!

TH: I only really came on this show to meet people!

NP: Look at all these lovely Geordies you've met tonight! Yes, right, so that's the situation as we move into the final round. And Tony Hawks it's your turn to begin so will you take how to survive a stag night. I think that's a very good subject starting now.

TH: I imagine it's a very difficult thing to survive in a real state because they do insist on pouring alcohol down your neck. I once went to one, announced I was only going to have herbal tea...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: They only pour alcohol down your throat.

NP: What did he say?

PM: Down your neck. That's the outside isn't it.

NP: I think that's a very good challenge.

PM: They wouldn't pour it down your neck, would they.

NP: Paul you have the benefit of the doubt, 48 seconds, on how to survive a stag night starting now.

PM: Get someone to pour a drink down your neck. It's the only way because then you don't get any in your throat.


NP: Charles challenged.

CC: He can't get a point for, get the subject from him, and then make a joke of, down your neck. He can't do that, it wouldn't be fair. This audience is so sweet and they can't bear that.

NP: He was not saying you pour a drink down your neck there, conveying that he was imbibing it, he just said pour a drink down your neck. Which is quite a different image.

CC: Well all right Nicholas, but I was revolted by the whole thing!

NP: That's no reason to challenge, you can't challenge for revolting in this game.

CC: I've come a hell of a long way for this evening you know, and...

SP: Hampshire, wasn't it?

CC: If you're going to lose control at this hour, I don't know what the point is.

NP: You're still in the lead Charles, don't worry!

CC: Oh I've never been in the lead.

NP: I know you haven't been in the lead.

PM: Have you never won?

CC: No.

NP: He's never won, he's never been in the lead.

PM: Ah hence that was...

NP: Keep your cool and you'll probably be okay.

PM: You're forging ahead at the moment.

CC: Shut up!

NP: Forty-five seconds with you Paul starting now.

PM: Rutting on the moors late at night, you suddenly feel an antler poking behind your back. And you turn around and you wonder who is there. And you see the face of some old deer. And when I say that, I'm not referring to the old maiden you see doing the shopping...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Two olds.

NP: Two olds.

PM: Two olds?

NP: Yes.

SP: Two olds. There was two olds.

PM: Too old.

NP: The old lady and the old thing.

PM: Yeah.

NP: So Sue you got in on this subject with 29 seconds, how to survive a stag night starting now.

SP: The best thing to do is to strip yourself naked and tie oneself to a tree...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: No!

PM: Tiiiiiie. Tiiiiiiie.

NP: She goes at a hell of a lick, you know!

SP: Hence I came to be Mrs Tony Hawks!

NP: Married by Nicholas Parsons, right. No at the pace she goes you couldn't interpret that as hesitation. So benefit of the doubt to Sue on this occasion, keeps the subject, 26 seconds, how to survive a stag night starting now.

SP: As the antlers prod into your back, you turn round...


NP: Charles challenged.

CC: Well repetition of antlers, because he said antlers.

SP: I didn't.

NP: No she didn't say it.

CC: No but Paul did, it's a repetition.

PM: No because...

CC: Can you say the same word in the whole thing?

NP: No no...

SP: Darling...

CC: I want her to win so much!

NP: You've played the game enough...

CC: I know.

NP: It's only...

CC: Sorry.

NP: ... the person who is speaking that can't repeat the word.

CC: Quite right.

NP: You can take anybody else's material and repeat it ad lib if you want to.

CC: Quite right, quite right, I'm just overexcited.

NP: I know you're overexcited so, 24 seconds Sue, you have another point. Sue will win at this rate! Twenty-four seconds, how to survive a stage night starting now.

SP: Imagine an Army of lads down the town. Of course you can, you're from Newcastle! Every Saturday, huge phalanx of men with T-shirts bearing the legend "Newcastle brown ale" storm the street, banners waving...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: I think she said Newcastle twice.

NP: Yes.

TH: She said "you're from Newcastle", and then she said "of course you can, you're from Newcastle..."

NP: Newcastle brown.

TH: And Newcastle brown.

CC: Well done Tony.

NP: So we're going to hear from everybody on this subject. Eleven seconds are still available for how to survive a stag night with you Tony starting now.

TH: The old deer is behind you and the stag ruts in front of wherever you are...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Was there a slight hesitation?

NP: No no! Tony another point...

PM: I know about repeats on the BBC but didn't I just say all that?

NP: You may have said it but he's allowed...

PM: He's nicking my material!

NP: You can do that in this game.

PM: Can you?

NP: Otherwise everybody would challenge for it.

PM: Really?

NP: Yes.

PM: Terrible chairman!

NP: It's not as easy as it looks. Tony, another point and five seconds to go starting now.

TH: One terrific way to survive a stag night is to take oxygen, strap it to your back, get it over your nose and then if anybody tries...


NP: Tony Hawks was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. With some slight interpretation of the rules in the last round from the chairman, I managed to engineer a situation at the end which is so eminently fair because they're all so good at playing the game. That we have equal in second place three people, Paul Merton, Tony Hawks and Sue Perkins, all equal. Only one point ahead, Charles Collingwood, so we say Charles, you are our winner! So what could be fairer because they all play the game so well and so keenly and with such vervacity and such erudition. But it only remains for me to say thank you on behalf of these four lovely people here, Paul Merton, Sue Perkins, Tony Hawks and Charles Collingwood. And I say thank you to our lovely whistle-blower who has helped me with the score as well, that is Charlotte Davies. We thank our producer-director who is Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this lovely game. And we are deeply indebted to this lovely audience here at the beautiful Theatre Royal in Newcastle who have cheered us on our way with passion and Tyneside fervour. Thank you very much. Don't forget to tune in again the next time we play Just A Minute!