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 those who tune into Radio Four, BBC7, the Internet and of course around the world. But more importantly to welcome to the show four exciting talented people who are going to play this game. And they are, seated on my right, we welcome back that wonderful evergreen comedian who has contributed so much over the years to Just A Minute, that is Paul Merton. And seated beside him we have that veteran player of the game who gives such great value every time he appears on the show, that is Clement Freud. And seated on my left, we have that delightful actor and writer who does so well every time he brings his show up here to the Fringe, that's Owen O'Neill. And seated beside him, another lovely person from the Emerald Isle, a brilliant actress, a writer, and a great stalwart of this show, that is Pauline McLynn. Please welcome all four of them! Thank you. And seated beside me is Charlotte Davies, who is going to blow a whistle when the 60 seconds are up, and help me keep the score with a stopwatch. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from a venue at the Pleasance during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. And we have a rather hyped-up excited Fringe audience dying for us to get started. So we'll begin the show with Clement Freud. And Clement what a good topical subject, the best time to be in edinburgh. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

CLEMENT FREUD: There is no such thing as the best time to be in Edinburgh. Because Edinburgh is permanently wonderful. Whether morning, lunchtime, afternoon, evening or night, Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, from January to December. Although possibly New Year's Eve is the absolutely most brilliant time because people buy you a drink. Now it's very rare for people in Edinburgh to stand at a bar...


NP: Owen you challenged.

OWEN O'NEILL: Slight hesitation?

NP: No I think, he does go a bit more slowly than some. But I think, he was going at a measured pace.

OO: Okay.

NP: But nice to hear from you Owen.

OO: Yes.

NP: Right yes, so we give the benefit of the doubt to Clement, we say you still keep the subject, you get a point for being interrupted Clement, you keep the subject, there are 25 seconds available, the best time to be in Edinburgh starting now.

CF: Bars sell whisky, gin, brandy, lager, with all sorts of condiments and accompaniments, small bottles of...


NP: Paul challenged.

PAUL MERTON: That was a hesitation.

NP: That was a hesitation Paul, I agree with that.

CF: Yeah.

NP: So you have a point for a correct challenge, you take over the subject, there are 15 seconds still available and the subject is the best time to be in Edinburgh starting now.

PMe: Well for me clearly the best time to be in Edinburgh is really during the Festival. What fun! You walk up and...


NP: Pauline challenged.

PAULINE McLYNN: Was Festival mentioned before? Was that repetition?

NP: Yeah but he didn't mention it before.

PMc: Oh no! I see!

NP: You'd make the game impossible Pauline...

PMe: You can see it written down a lot as you go round town...

PMc: It's very repetitive, this Festival! Yes.

PMe: It tells you something.

PMc: All right. Do you know Nicholas, I'm going to let that go! I take your point! I feel that the rules of Just A Minute aren't rigourous enough!

NP: That was an incorrect challenge.

PMc: Oh darn it!

NP: So Paul you have another point and you have the subject still, 11 seconds available, the best time to be in Edinburgh starting now.

PMe: I've been coming to Edinburgh to record Just A Minute for about 12 years now. And it's always for me the highlight of the whole event. When I sit here and look at this magnificent audience in front of me...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point, and on this edition it was of course Paul Merton, so he is naturally in the lead at the end of the round. Pauline McLynn we'd like you to take the next round. And the subject is a dream come true. You have 60 seconds to tell us about it starting now.

PMc: For me, a dream come true would be the face and body of Kyron Knightley, and the brain of Paul Merton. Or should that be the other way around? I was asked at Christmas one year by a paper what would be my dream come true, and I answered marriage. Listeners, I got it. So the flip side of a dream come true, is be careful what you wish for! I have to say that after 10 years of said arrangement with my husband, I now find him watching the video of our wedding backwards, so he can watch himself go back out of th church door, a single man...


NP: In order to get that joke over, you had to repeat.

PMc: I went for it.

NP: Paul you buzzed.

PMe: Repetition of watch.

NP: Watch, yes right. So Paul you have the subject, you have 24 seconds, a dream come true starting now.


PMe: Sorry I was just dreaming! I was... I was dreaming I was doing Just A Minute! And it came true!

NP: So we give Paul a bonus point for his amusing remark, but Owen you challenged.

OO: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation, I agree with that of course. Owen you have 23 seconds and tell us something about a dream come true starting now.

OO: A dream come true for me is to buzz Paul Merton on Just A Minute, because he is so very good at it, that it takes anybody a long time to buzz him, ah, when they're...


NP: Paul what was your challenge?

PMe: Repetition of buzz.

NP: Repetition of buzz, I'm sorry Owen. So he's got a correct challenge, he has 13 seconds to tell us something about a dream come true starting now.

PMe: My dream come true is for Owen O'Neill to buzz me on Just A Minute when I...


NP: Owen you challenged.

OO: I'm just hearing that your dreams come true Paul!

PMe: Yeah!

NP: A generous thought from Paul gave you the chance to buzz in, and gain a point and the subject, and 10 seconds, a dream come true Owen starting now.

OO: A dream come true once was meeting Mick Jagger. He came to see my show and then I got him to do a little bit of filming and he said that he would do it ah for a film I was...


NP: Pauline challenged.

PMc: I think several hesitations.

OO: Yes.

PMc: Because he was very excited about Mick Jagger, and I understand that. I feel quite the same way, but there was a lot of... doing it I think.

NP: I think Mick Jagger would excite you a bit more than Owen though.

PMc: Oh now Nicholas, I have to stop you right there and say don't assume too much. Oh!

NP: I'm not going to go into Owen's private life...

PMc: Owen's younger than Mick, I'll say no more than that.

NP: Anyway Pauline, I agree with the challenge, you've got in with one second to go on a dream come true starting now.

PMc: A dream come true would be all my...


NP: So Pauline McLynn was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. She's moved forward, she's in second place behind Paul Merton, and they're followed by Owen O'Neill and Clement Freud in that order. Owen would you take the next round, the subject, a nice Scottish subject here, hoots mon. Tell us something about hoots mon, in this game starting now.

OO: Hoots mon is one of those incredibly stupid expressions that in my experience Scottish people never actually say. The Irish equivalent is of course "the top of the morning to you" and if you are ever in Scotland or in Ireland and utter any of these vacuous phrases, which incidentally were invented by the English to decimate the Celtic cultures, then you deserve to have a large punch in the gob. Hoots mon...


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: A bit of a long hesitation.

NP: No there wasn't, he was going so well.

OO: Thank you!

NP: No!

OO: It was a measured ah thing...

PMc: Some people call it breathing, I don't know.

PMe: Well we call it hesitating in this game.

NP: I’m afraid you've got the Irish Mafia on this side.

OO: Murphy-a! Murphy-a!

PMe: Murphy-a!

NP: They've got hands across the border anyway! So um, no I disagree so you've still got the subject Owen, and you've got 32 seconds on hoots mon starting now.

OO: Hoots mon when translated into the modern day Anglo-Saxon means...


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: Well the subject is hoots mon, isn't it, and hoots man, Owen has said man twice.

OO: It's just my, it's just my accent.

NP: No you did say man.

OO: Did I say man?

NP: It should be hoots mon.

OO: Hoots mon.

PMc: It just suddenly got so ugly here, didn't it! I'm frightened Nicholas!

NP: So I did give you the benefit of the doubt last time Owen. So I give Paul...

OO: Okay mon!

NP: Right Paul, 29 seconds, hoots mon starting now.

PMe: I arrived in Edinburgh on a man-day, I think you'll find it was. And hoots mon is something you appear as you walk down the street from American tourists who expect to see the local Scots, indicating the kind of thing that you haven't really know what you're saying, but somebody may not notice because you get to the end of your sentence, and nobody's looking at you...


PMe: And you might get away with it.

NP: Pauline challenged.

PMc: You'd have to say that was deviation of the highest regard.

NP: Why?

PMc: Because he just went into one of his fabulous jazzy nonsensical sentences.

NP: Yeah but he was still going on about hoots mon.

PMe: Yeah.

NP: And the language and so forth, wasn't he.

PMe: Mmmm.

PMc: Well, language taken to an extreme though I feel.

NP: I think I give benefits of the doubt. Pauline as you haven't played it so often, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt.


NP: I'm sorry audience, it's got nothing to do with you! So the decision, and I will try and redress the balance, later on if I can. So Pauline, the benefit of the doubt, 13 seconds, hoots mon starting now.

PMc: I would love to meet a Scot who would say hoots mon to me, so I could give them a little slap around the face and say "don't bend to the stereotypes that all of the world expect from you. Respect your race, be bigger than that, be..."


NP: So Pauline McLynn was then speaking as the whistle went, and gained that extra point. And with others in the round, she has moved forward, she's only two behind Paul Merton, our leader, just ahead of Owen O'Neill and Clement Freud in that order. And Paul we'd like you to take the next round, the subject is grasping at straws. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

PMe: It's a phrase that means when you look like all your luck's about to run out, you grab something, hoping that you will be saved. You imagine perhaps somebody in a swamp trying to reach for the bank, grasping literally at straws so they can drag back on to the dry land. When we look around each other...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: They're not straws. They tend to be reeds.

NP: But they're like straw reeds, aren't they.

PMe: Yeah yeah.

NP: I mean you clutch at them, when they're dead and they've died, those reeds go into straws.

PMe: Yes.

NP: If you knew anything about gardening, you'll know that they are straw-like entirely. And I think Paul was...

PMe: Excellent chairman! Excellent chairman! Best chairman we've got! Best chairman we've got!

NP: It's the only one you've got, unfortunately.

PMe: Yes!

NP: No I don't think, I will say about benefit of the doubt, Paul I give you benefit of the doubt and you keep the subject and there are 44 seconds on grasping at straws starting now.

PMe: When I worked at McDonald's, part of my job was to feed up the Pepsi-cola cartons. And they said "well the straws are over there" and I tried to reach them, I was grasping all over the floor. They said "you're no good, those might as well be reeds the way you've grabbed those! Do you not know the difference between a riverbank and... where we're working now in this burger shop?" And I said "yes I do know the difference". It was then I realised that my dream...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of difference.

NP: Yes there was a difference.

PMe: Was there?

NP: Yes. So Clement you've got in with 27 seconds to go, grasping at straws starting now.

CF: If you want to make a milk shake for your children, which is an excellent thing to do, try getting a banana, some grapes...


NP: Owen challenged.

OO: There was a bit of a hesitation.

NP: There was a bit of hesitation, yes, trying to get a banana.

PMc: It's harsh!

NP: All right, I give benefits of the doubt. Do you want Clement to have the benefit of the doubt?


CF: I don't want benefits!

NP: Right, all right...

PMc: Oh do you hear him now? "I don't want the benefits!"

NP: So all right, so everyone's had the benefit of the doubt except Pauline, there's one owing to you Pauline darling. Right there we are, so 20 seconds, carry on Clement, grasping at straws starting now.

CF: A sufficiency of milk, a few lumps of ice and then you...


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: We had milk in milk shake before.

NP: We had milk shake.

PMe: Yeah.

PMc: You can't really make a milk shake without though, it's just like...

NP: In Just A Minute, you can't repeat it.

PMc: Oh it's so and you know that's one of the examples of too harsh a rule! I'll say no more!

PMe: We're quite happy to change the whole nature of the show that has been going on successfully for 40 years if it makes you any happier!

PMc: I'm just bringing, just bringing a fresh approach, that's all.

NP: I know, but after 39 years it has worked quite well, Pauline.

PMc: Oh all right, you've beaten me down! It might as well be 800 years the way you're carrying on though!

NP: Paul, 16 seconds, grasping at straws starting now.

PMe: I believe you've just given it to me. And if you haven't, I'd be grasping at straws. And that's what the thing means. When you see a situation open up in front of you, and you think to yourself...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: He said think before.

NP: He did say think before.

CF: Yeah.

PMe: Are you sure?

CF: Yes.

NP: Six seconds Clement, grasping at straws starting now.

CF: A Pym's number one served with apricot brandy is something which will get people clutching at straws...


NP: So Clement Freud was speaking as the whistle went, gained other points in the round, he's leapt forward, he's equal with Pauline McLynn in second place, behind Paul Merton, Owen is just behind them. And Clement it's your turn to begin, and the subject now is immortality. Will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

CF: When you're my sort of age, you think less about immortality than mortality. And I have spent many hours of my time trying to find a legend to put on my tombstone, which originally was going to be "he never insulted anyone unintentionally". Then after careful rethought was "best before" and the date on which... That... I have now decided that the ideal message to put on this stone over my grave is "he was not speaking..."


NP: Owen.

OO: Hesitation.

NP: That was definitely hesitation yes.


OO: Oh come on!

PMc: And there was still twice actually as well.

NP: I know. Why did you let him go?

PMc: Well I wanted to hear what he was going to do, what the third thing was going to be.

OO: Okay, I'll take it back.

NP: No you're not, this is the rules of the game.

OO: Okay.

NP: It was a very long pause, so Owen...

PMc: It's a jungle out here!

NP: I mean we want to hear from you on immortality, 18 seconds starting now.

OO: Immortality of course does not exist. We would all like this particular thing to be real, but it's not. I would like to have it on...


PMc: Like.

NP: Yes.

PMc: Too much liking.

NP: Too likes.

PMc: Too much liking.

NP: It's all right, don't rub it in, darling.

PMc: Oh would you... sorry I repeated myself there, didn't I!

NP: You've got the subject and a point and 10 seconds, immortality Pauline starting now.

PMc: The trouble with immortality is that it seems to stretch forever as far as I'm concerned. I really don't have the time for that. I need to do new things. I can't be facing immortality...


NP: So Pauline McLynn was then speaking as the whistle went, and gained that extra point. She's moved forward ahead of Clement Freud, she's two points behind Paul Merton, our leader, and just ahead of Owen O'Neill. And Pauline it's also your turn to begin. And the subject is a nice one, I hope, for you, it's my mid-life crisis.

PMc: Lovely!

NP: Will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PMc: Well I'm 44 years old, and to me this is exactly the right time for me to have a mid-life crisis...


NP: Owen challenged.

OO: Repetition of me.

PMc: But it's all about me! Go on!

NP: It's a tough challenge but it's correct. Owen you have the point, you have the subject, 55 seconds, my mid-life crisis starting now.

OO: My mid-life crisis happened quite a while ago. Men who have mid-life crisises, they get to drive sports cars and drink a lot and run after young girls. Whereas women who have a mid-life crisis get hot flushes and become insane! What...


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: Repetition of get to have.

NP: Get to have, I'm afraid yes, two gets to have.

OO: That's right.

NP: So Paul, correct challenge, 39 seconds starting now.

PMe: You don't know when your mid-life is so how are you going to have a crisis about it? You might be dead by the time you are 50 so you can't really tell. To me a mid-life crisis is one of these journalistic conventions. I have never suffered a mid-life crisis. When I look over at Nicholas Parsons I think to myself, If I'm like that when I'm 90 I'll be very very happy indeed. What a tremendous example he is to immortality! Nicholas, the first man ever to appear on the BBC back in 1922...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of Nicholas.

NP: I know, what a pity!

PMe: Give me the benefit of the doubt!

NP: But it was a correct challenge Clement, so my mid-life crisis is with you, that's the subject, 17 seconds starting now.

CF: In my mid-life crisis I tried to think of something to put on my tombstone and determined now to write on it "he was not speaking when the whistle went"!


CF: That's all!

NP: Who challenged? Paul challenged.

CF: That's it.

PMe: Hesitation.

NP: But I'll show you how fair and generous I am...

CF: Give me the benefit of the doubt!

NP: No benefit of the doubt, I'll be even more generous and say, because the audience enjoyed what you said Clement, you got such a big laugh and you paused, you will get a bonus point for that. But Paul gets the subject and a point of course and there are four seconds available, my mid-life crisis starting now.

PMe: On my tombstone I want "beneath this sod lies another one"! You can't do better than that...


NP: So Paul Merton was again speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point. He's increased his lead ahead of Pauline McLynn and Clement Freud who are equal in second place, Owen brings up the rear. And Owen it's your turn to begin, the subject now, recycling. Can you tell us something about that subject, there's 60 seconds to go starting now.

OO: Recycling in my household is a logistical nightmare. In the old days you only had to recycle bottles, green, brown and clear. Now you have to recycle everything, paper, cardboard, shoes, batteries, mobile phones, duvet covers, human hair. And my jokes, which I have to recycle at the Edinburgh Festival because I've been doing them for 25 years and I've run out of subjects to talk about. Recycling of course is very helpful to the environment, so they tell us, but I don't...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: That was his second of course.

NP: Yes.

CF: He's quite keen on of courses.

NP: I know.

OO: Of course I am.

NP: Yes. It's a term of language which you often use but unfortunately you can't repeat it. So Clement, correct challenge, 30 seconds, recycling starting now.

CF: It is said that once you can ride a bicycle, you can continue to do so for the rest of your life. Well I tried and couldn't. I recycled all night long, up a hill, down a valley, and nothing. The pedals went round and I fell off. So that goes to recycling...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PMe: There was a hesitation.

NP: There was hesitation yes, you have the subject of recycling, 10 seconds to go starting now.

PMe: It was I who translated Nicholas's routine from the original Greek! And there he was, recycling his jokes in front of the audience. And they roared with laughter when he walked on to that stage...


NP: So Paul Merton was again speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's increased his lead ahead of Clement Freud, Pauline McLynn and Owen O'Neill. And Paul it's also your turn to begin. And the subject now is flower power. Tell us something about flower power in Just A Minute starting now.

PMe: In the 1967 film The Producers made by Mel Brooks, there's a character called LSD, played by Dick Shawn. And this... oh!


PMe: I couldn't think of another word for character!

NP: Pauline you challenged.

PMc: It was a hesitation.

NP: It was hesitation. So Pauline you have 52 seconds, flower power is the subject and you start now.

PMc: Flower power is all very well but I believe in drugs really, for curing anything like a hangover or a disease of any sort. I think that flowers are beautiful to look at, and that is their power certainly. But they're a hell of a lot less use than they're made out to be, when it comes to curing pain or even perhaps just a bad hair day...


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: Was that a hesitation?

NP: Yes it was a hesitation. Sorry Pauline.

PMc: Damn it, he's right!

NP: I know, 30 seconds Paul, flower power starting now.

PMe: It was a wonderful time in San Francisco in 1966. The Clement Freud Magnificent Explosives Band with their hip-hop ribbons and their grateful dead... oh what am I talking about?


PMe: I've got all the albums!

NP: It was a surreal channel that came to a dead end! Right, and Owen you challenged first so you have flower power and you have 21 seconds starting now.

OO: Flower power actually started in Ireland in the late 16th century when we ran out of potatoes. Flour became really popular for baking bread. We ate flour all the time, and the power that it gave us was tremendous. When we were out in the fields, ploughing away on our... er...


OO: On our iron implements I was going to say.

PMe: Tragically hesitation.

NP: Tragically hesitation and you've got in with two seconds to go.

PMc: Oh no! The poacher strikes again!

NP: You haven't gained any friends, but you've got the subject. And two seconds, flower power starting now.

PMe: Sergeant Pep...


NP: Oh Owen challenged.

OO: Ah pep, hesitation.

NP: In between pep and per?

OO: Yeah.

NP: Owen I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll give you a bonus point for inventiveness. Paul was interrupted so correctly within the rules of Just A Minute, he still has the subject, flower power, two seconds to go starting now.

PMe: Ers Lonely Heart Club Band.


NP: So apparently we're moving into the final round. And in that situation, Owen O'Neill and Pauline McLynn and Clement Freud are almost equal, not quite but almost, only one point separates them in second place. They're trailing Paul Merton who has for once got a very strong lead. Pauline McLynn will you take the final round.

PMc: I actually would be delighted to, Nicholas.

NP: Isn't that good! Do you know anything about hopscotch? It doesn't really matter whether you do or not because that's the subject, 60 seconds starting now.

PMc: Is it just me or does hopscotch mean something entirely different when you're here in Edinburgh? I don't know, I could be entirely wrong about that. For me...


NP: Owen challenged.

OO: I think there was a slight hesitation.

NP: Oh...

OO: I said slight. A hesitation.

NP: I know. Not enough, not enough to get the point, I'm sorry.

OO: Okay.

NP: So Pauline you keep the subject, having got another point of course, hopscotch, 52 seconds starting now.

PMc: For an Irish girl, hopscotch means a girl I could play with others who lived on my street. We were normally very beautifully dressed with pigtails. We would chalk out the hopscotch and then play to the death. The important thing...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of play.

NP: Yes there were too many plays I'm afraid.

PMc: Ah!

NP: And Clement a correct challenge, and there are 39 seconds still available, tell us something about hopscotch starting now.

CF: Hoots mon is something...


NP: Owen challenged.

OO: Ah deviation.

NP: Yes but we didn't get enough time to understand. He might be...

PMc: How about repetition of a previous round?

NP: No I mean, I've got to be fair, I mean he...

PMe: You can't have repetition of a previous round because we've been playing this game for 39 years! Makes it very difficult!

NP: No doubt he was going to make a connection between hoots mon and hopscotch.

OO: Okay fair enough.

NP: You have to wait and see, on two words you can't really.

OO: Two words.

NP: So Clement you have the subject and you have 31 seconds, hopscotch starting now.

CF: The new is a very good time to play hopscotch.


CF: That is really all I have...

NP: He set it up for you.

OO: What? Hesitation.

NP: To buzz in and get the subject. He looked over to you.

OO: Did he?

NP: Yes.

OO: I didn't realise you were looking at him, I thought you were just staring at me.

NP: Well anyway Paul's buzzer...

OO: It sort of frightened me, I didn't want to say anything.

NP: Paul's buzzer went first so Paul, yes, you have 32 seconds, hopscotch starting now.

PMe: Hopscotch is a game you play on the pavement. You get a little bit of chalk and you do squares and you put one, two, three, four, five, six, as many as you like, and then you jump up and down. This is what we used to do before there was television. I think it is great we're now in the digital age. You can turn on the radio, forget the hopscotch and you can listen to all kinds of things. Nicholas Parsons in his heyday! Who would have thought! Walk down Memory Lane, get the hopscotch thing out and you can do what you like. Where I live we have a National Hopscotch Championship. Everybody joins in from the tower blocks to the country cottages. It's wonderful. The Archbishop of Canterbury won one year! And he was up against Graham Norton. If you take an hard-boiled egg and an onion and try to put them in the same shell, you end up with something that is neither a hard-boiled egg or an onion...


NP: So let me give you the final situation. Owen O'Neill who hasn't played the game very much, did very well, but he did finish in a very strong fourth place. Pauline McLynn who has only played a little before, I think once or twice, but she did very well in a very powerful third place. Clement Freud, who has been playing the show forever, did extraordinarily well and finished in a very dominant second place. But out in the lead with a record number of points scored, 22 points, he must be the winner yes Paul Merton! Thank you, thank you! We do hope you've enjoyed this edition of Just A Minute, and it only remains for me to say thank you to these four delightful players of the game, Paul Merton, Owen O'Neill, Pauline McLynn and Clement Freud. I thank Charlotte Davies, who has helped me with the score, and blown her whistle whenever the time was up, even before sometimes. We also thank our producer Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this delightful game. We are grateful to this lovely audience here at the Fringe, at the Pleasance up in Edinburgh. They've been lovely, we've enjoyed playing it, I'm glad you enjoyed it, to our listeners, hope you've had a great time, tune in the next time we play Just A Minute!