starring PAUL MERTON, CLEMENT FREUD, CHRIS NEILL and GREG PROOPS, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 12 February 2007)

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 the four exciting, individual and diverse personalities who this week are going t play Just A Minute. And they are, seated on my right, that outstanding and delightful comedian Paul Merton. And beside him we have one of the senior players of the game with his ironic approach to humour, that is Clement Freud. And seated on my left, we have that effervescent young comedy performer, Chris Neill. And beside him America's gift to comedy who has come over here, Greg Proops. Would you please welcome all four of them! And as usual I'm going to ask them to speak on a subject I will give them, and they will do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Beside me sits Charlotte Davies, who is going to help me keep 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 recently refurbished Theatre Royal in that wonderful cathedral city of Winchester. And we have in front of us a happy looking Hampshire audience who are longing for the show to start. So let's get under way with Clement Freud. Clement will you take this, amazing subject to start a show with, the end of the world. Anyway that's the subject Clement, will you speak on it for 60 seconds if you can, starting now.

CLEMENT FREUD: Many years ago when I was a football correspondent for The Observer, there was a man with a sign which said "Clement Freud is here". And behind him an old geezer had a similar placard which said "the end of the world is nigh". I've now said said three times.


NP: That was very sporting of you Clement.

CF: Yeah.

NP: Yes right but Paul Merton you pressed your buzzer first.

PAUL MERTON: Repetition of parrot. Repetition of said, repetition of said.

NP: Yes you've got the subject, you have a point for a correct challenge, you take over the subject and there are 41 seconds available, the end of the world starting now.

PM: On the British Broadcasting Corporation World Service, I used to listen to that quite a lot. And sometimes you'd hear somebody say "that is the end of the world news". And if you hadn't heard the beginning of the bulletin, you'd imagine some nuclear holocaust had happened. But I realised then of course I was making a terrible mistake. When the Moon looks down upon us...


NP: Chris challenged.

CHRIS NEILL: Was there a repetition of when?

NP: Yes there was,

PM: Was there?

NP: Mmmm. Well listened Chris right, ooooohh sharp challenge, yes.

CN: I'd just like to say I don't really want the subject! I think it may upset Hampshire.

NP: Well you have a point for a correct challenge which is always very good grist to the mill in this show. And you have 24 seconds if you want it, you have the end of the world and you start now.

CN: The end of The World Of Leather sale is always a sad day for me. Sometimes you have to wait as long as 48 hours before it comes around again. Those moments I pace in my flat, thinking when, oh I was going to say when twice then!


NP: So Paul you pressed first.

PM: When twice.

NP: Yes when twice and you got in again with nine seconds to go on the end of the world and you start now.

PM: King Henry the Eighth was making his way through Chelsea in London when he suddenly turned to one of his emissaries and said "what on earth is this place called?" And...


NP: And 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 that round, he has a lead, he has four points actually. Chris has one. And we move forward to the second round. And Chris Neill would you take the second round, this subject is office politics. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

CN: Office politics, office politics. I would advise you, should you work in an office, never to get embroiled in office politics, disagreements with other people, that kind of thing. If Barbara, for instance, in Accounts, wants to borrow your stapler, let her have it! Don't make a fuss. And then if Tom from the same department...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: You'll never see that stapler again! She's got five of my staplers, Barbara! Five of them! What is she doing, Nicholas?

NP: I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

PM: Has she got anything of yours?

NP: Well I'm not in the same office.

PM: Oh really?

NP: I've got a higher office, I'm in the... yes they bring their staplers to me actually.

PM: Do you have the key to the executive washroom?

NP: Absolutely yes! Yes indeed and I get other people to come in there with me sometimes!

PM: Yes they're called, they're called nurses, aren't they!

NP: Oh you are wicked yes! I'll give you one bonus point for that. But Chris was interrupted so you get a point because you were interrupted and you keep the subject, 43 seconds on office politics starting now.

CN: Office politics, I suppose it depends on the politics of the person whose office you are in. For instance should you...


NP: Greg challenged.

GREG PROOPS: I think he said instance twice, a repetition of instance.

NP: No I don't think so.

GP: I just wanted to be on the show before it was over!

PM: He's come all the way from America to do this show! All the way from America!

NP: From the west coast, from San Francisco!

PM: He's travelled all the way, he's got the direct link between Winchester and San Francisco.

GP: There's still that land bridge.

PM: Yeah.

NP: So we give you a bonus point because we enjoyed the interruption and the fact that you haven't spoken yet. And you've come all the way from San Francisco. But Chris you get another point, 37 seconds, office politics, starting now.

CN: So the thing to do in Tony Blair's office, for instance...


CN: Oh!

NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of for instance.

NP: There was for instance.

CN: Yeah I know, I was trying to do it for my friend here.

NP: I know you were, he's sitting beside you. I saw you touch his hand but he was... he thought it was for another reason.

CN: I can multitask!

NP: Clement a correct challenge, you have the subject, and 33 seconds, office politics starting now.

CF: Somebody said to me the other day "what is the matter with John Prescott?" And the reply is that he's off his politics. For instance...


NP: Chris you challenged yes? You got in on that long pause Chris and you have um 22 seconds on office politics starting now.

CN: In David Cameron's office, the business in hand is to bring a hoodie in for him to hug, while he does that on a web-cam of course, web-Cameron!


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of of course.

NP: Of course, you did say of course before. So Clement well listened, you have the subject back, you have 14 seconds, office politics starting now.

CF: There are...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Oh hesitation.

NP: No!

PM: Really?

NP: Really yes.

PM: I thought we had an interval!

NP: No, Clement has another point and 13 seconds, office politics starting now.

CF: I didn't know I had a point before office politics, but I'm extremely grateful to everyone. And perhaps next time bonuses are awarded, I could...


NP: Chris challenged.

CN: Oh deviation, it's slightly off the subject of office politics, it's about bonuses and...

PM: Bonuses are a very important part of office politics.

CN: Oh I suppose that is true.

NP: Don't you muddle me now! I thought you were going to have him for hesitation which you could have had. But...

CN: Hesitation.

NP: No it's too late now. I don't think bonuses are too much. They have bonuses in offices, they get bonuses at the end of the year, Christmas bonuses.

CN: I wanted Clement to have a bonus point, that was the thing.

NP: No he hasn't got a bonus point.

CN: Oh.

NP: He's won a point because you interrupted him incorrectly. So he's still got the subject...

CN: You too can play this at home for hours!

NP: Four seconds Clement, office politics starting now.

CF: It's still mine for four seconds?

NP: Yes.

CF: I'm grateful.


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes it was because he didn't realise he still had the subject.

PM: Yeah.

NP: And he paused. So you got in with two seconds to go Paul on office politics starting now.

PM: Mrs Worrall won't let you into her office unless you're wearing a...


NP: So Paul was then speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point and he's increased his lead ahead of Clement Freud and Chris Neill who are in second place. Greg Proops is trailing a little and it's his turn to begin. Greg the subject here for you is the bee's knees. Can you tell us something on that subject starting now.

GP: The cat's pyjamas, the dog's thingies, the bee's knees, these are all expressions for a state in which people are at their most fabulous. It's the thing that everyone likes the most in a bee, their knees. Because the pollen sack is often full and hard to get to. So the knees are the thing that... (starts laughing)


NP: It's all very well, to dry yourself up with your own material!

GP: I love what I do!

NP: Right. Anyway Chris you challenged first.

CN: I had a feeling it was hesitation.

NP: Yes it was...

PM: I was taking notes!

NP: You were going to use the same material were you?

PM: Yes.

NP: Right! Chris you've got in with 39 seconds available, the bee's knees starting now.

CN: As Greg was saying, the bee's knees are quite tricky things. Should you ever ask a bee what it wants for a present and it says socks, ask it, oh I've said ask twice.


NP: Chris, I've said this before when you come on the show.

CN: I know!

NP: Don't tell them always that you've done it. They may not notice or they may be generous.

PM: We're not listening so until he points it out... you're getting away with it until you point it out!

NP: Clement you got in first with 32 seconds, the bee's knees starting now.

CF: In order of magnitude, bee's knees are not very large. Gnat's knickers are even smaller, but nit's knackers are the very tiniest of all things. I don't think I have much more to say.


NP: So Paul came in on that last remark.

PM: Well having delivered his message to the world...

NP: Yes.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes it was a throbbing message, a hesitation, yes well done, 16 seconds Paul, tell us something about the bee's knees starting now.

PM: The bee is a remarkable creature. It can swim, fly, drive a car...


NP: Chris challenged.

CN: Deviation, they can't fly a car, er, drive a car. They can fly one, don't laugh, but they can't drive it.

NP: No they can't drive a car.

PM: They cooperate together. The swarm grabs the steering wheel!

NP: No Chris it's a legitimate challenge, 10 seconds, the bee's knees with you starting now.

CN: My Dad supports a football team called Brentford and they're known as the Bees. God they're rubbish! It's induced misery in my mother's life for about the last 40 years. They lose every single match...


NP: So Chris Neill was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point and others in the round. He has moved forward dramatically, he's now only one point behind our leader Paul Merton, he's just ahead of Clement Freud and a few more ahead of Greg Proops. And Paul we'd like you to take the next round, the subject St Swithin’s Day. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PM: Well St Swithin's Day is some time in July. And I believe the old belief is that if it rains on St Swithin's Day then it's going to be raining for quite some time...


NP: Greg challenged.

GP: Rains?

PM: Rains and raining.

NP: That's right, rain and raining.

GP: Oh is that not a repetition?

NP: No no it's two different words.

GP: I'm listening as hard as I can!

NP: We'll give him a bonus point for that, because he hasn't played it very much before, otherwise...

PM: He's come all the way from America!

NP: He's come all the way from San Francisco, right.

PM: All the way from America to play this game!

NP: All the way from San Francisco.


NP: Yes you want another point, do you Greg? Well okay give him another one.

GP: Hurray for me!

NP: Paul you were interrupted, you get a point for that incorrect challenge, St Swithin's Day and there are 53 seconds starting now.

PM: When you are aware of the water falling from the clouds, you realise that it did perhaps precipitate on St Swithin's Day which then led to this long period of rainfall. And what an extraordinary myth and legend it is. If you look back to the ancient church parish records you will see a picture of Nicholas Parsons at the age of 40. What an amazing thing it is! It's cut out of Basic leaf and stain glass windows...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of thing.

NP: Yes there were two things there.

PM: Were there?

NP: Yes indeed there were yes.

CF: And Nicholas Parsons as well.

PM: Does Nicholas count as a thing?

CF: Yeah.

PM: Three things.

NP: How disrespectful you all are.

PM: It's terrible.

NP: Terrible. Clement you got in with...

CF: If you gave a few more bonus points, people would be so much kinder to you!

PM: I disagree.

NP: You disagree?

PM: I don't think people will ever be kind to you.

NP: Clement wants a bonus point, so give him a bonus point.

PM: Can we ask for them?

NP: Yes! You won't necessarily get them but if Clement says it... right! Twenty-nine seconds Clement, St Swithin's Day starting now.

CF: I'm not actually terribly knowledgeable about St Swithin. But...


NP: Chris challenged.

CN: Well give it to someone who is!

NP: So what's your challenge within the rules of Just A Minute?

CN: Knowledge! Ah there was a little hesitation.

NP: There was only a little hesitation, I don't think enough to actually say you should have the subject.

CN: Also I've got nothing to say on it.

NP: We'll give you a bonus point...

CN: Okay.

NP: ... because they did enjoy your interruption.

CN: Yeah. Can I have one?

NP: Yeah you've got one, a bonus point.

CN: Thank you. Oh lovely thank you.

NP: I've given it to him right...

CN: Can you give one to my friend Greg?

NP: All right, give one to Greg as well, why not? He's come all the way from San Francisco.

PM: He's come all the way from San Francisco, he needs a bonus point.

NP: Of course he does, right.

PM: He's trying to earn the fare to get back!

NP: But Clement you have a point because it was an incorrect challenge, and St Swithin's Day still with you, and there are 24 seconds starting now.

CF: St Swithin's Day is actually my favourite subject which I took for Mastermind when I did it. And University Challenge is another programme where you could have heard me speak very knowledgeably about St Swithin who was born on the 22nd of February, 248 AD, under the reign of the great Ethelred who was not quite ready...


NP: So Clement Freud gets the point for speaking as the whistle went, he's equal with Chris Neill in second place. They're both one point behind Paul Merton, who is in the lead still. And Greg Proops is trailing just a little. Chris your turn to begin, the sound of music, tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

CN: The sound of music made by primary school children on recorders is not a pleasant one. I would advise you not to listen if you get the chance to do the negative of the thing which you might yet do. In fact er those young tiny people I was referring to aren't good at the best of times. If I put it to you, is there a more unpleasant sound to the human ear than that of small children, happily er at play...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Have we had children before?

NP: Yeah, small children.

CN: I said small people, didn't I?

NP: No, oh you still said small.

CN: I'm just touched that Paul is listening now.

PM: I've set an alarm clock!

NP: Paul another point to you and 37 seconds, the sound of music starting now.

PM: I recently did a gig with the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band at Shepherd's Bush Empire. And one of the tracks they asked me to participate in was called The Sound Of Music. It was originally recorded with Vivian Stanshall and the rest of the boys back in 1957. And those people who are fans of that particular group will remember it with some affection. The Sound Of Music itself as a film was made in 1965 by Robert Wise who was an assistant editor on Citizen Kane. It just goes to show you that some film careers seem to go...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of film.

NP: Yes you did mention the film before.

PM: Oh did I?

NP: Yes you mentioned the film, The Sound Of Music, and some film editor.

PM: Oh yes yes.

NP: Right so Clement you've got in with 10 seconds to go on the sound of music starting now.

CF: I was asked to audition the other day for the lead part in The Sound Of Music...


PM: He was! He was! He was! He was!

NP: Chris you challenged.

CN: Deviation, I don't believe that's true.

PM: No he was, he starts January!

NP: Well I'm afraid...

PM: Were you a lonely goat herd?

NP: His point was he was asked to audition.

PM: He was asked.

NP: He could have been asked to audition, they may have thought he was a few years younger than he actually looks.

PM: Exactly.

CF: A bonus point?

NP: No bonus point...

PM: Excellent chairman, excellent chairman!

NP: Six seconds Clement, the sound of music starting now.

CF: I played Three Blind Mice on the recorder which they didn't really...


NP: Chris challenged.

CN: Well this isn't about the sound of music, this is about playing Three Blind Mice on a recorder.

PM: This is about the audition at The Sound Of Music.

NP: So Clement, that was an incorrect challenge, you still have three seconds, the sound of music starting now.

CF: London's Burning is what wowed them, I think.


NP: So Clement Freud with his sound of music and the audition he did, and the recorder and everything else has moved forward. And he's now in the lead just ahead of Paul Merton, and Chris Neill and Greg Proops in that order. And Greg it's your turn to begin and the subject now, a very English one for an American from San Francisco, the Battle of Hastings. It's a bit of a challenge for you but tell us something about the Battle of Hastings starting now.

GP: The Battle of Hastings was fought on October 12th 1066, in a ummm ooh...


NP: Chris.

CN: Well do we call that sort of hesitation?

NP: I think we do yes.

GP: Well maybe you're not down with my jive lingo!

PM: It was Middle English, wasn't it? Middle English?

NP: It was Middle English, Chaucer, but it was, it was also nonsensical.

PM: Yeah, a lot of it is now.

NP: Yes it's all gone. Chris a correct challenge, the Battle of Hastings and 54 seconds starting now.

CN: The Battle of Hastings was due to take place at Hastings. But when William the Conqueror landed there he went "Ceugh what a dump"! And luckily there was a little place there called Battle which was quite appropriately named obviously and so they did it there. And then somebody got his eye shot out, it was a nightmare, and they didn't even stop for tea. Er ahh and the hills are alive...


NP: Paul.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes there was. Paul you have 35 seconds to tell us something about the Battle of Hastings starting now.

PM: In 1963 the various mods and rockers that lived in the east end of London decided to meet in Hastings for a showdown to see who was the toughest teenage gang in town. (laughs)


NP: Greg challenged.

PM: What a load of rubbish!

NP: Yes! But you were interrupted before that by Greg Proops, what was your challenge Greg?

GP: A little hesitation, a little deviation.

NP: There was a hesitation yes.

GP: Maybe a mixed bag of both.

NP: Twenty-one seconds, available, the Battle of Hastings starting now.

GP: William the Conqueror was exceedingly brave when he got to England. When he was just back in France, he was known as William the Wimp...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of William.

NP: Yes, William the Conqueror, William.

GP: Yes but it's completely pertinent to the battle.

NP: I know, but it doesn't, it's not pertinent to Just A Minute.

GP: Man you're a stickler.

NP: Well I have to be, otherwise I get assassinated by these other players. Right Paul...

PM: Do you know I've got a contract out on you at the moment?

NP: Who's met me, you?

PM: Yes.

NP: All right, he says it with a smile on his face.

PM: Can you not move around so much, there's a sniper up in... up in the balcony.

NP: Oh dear, 14 seconds Paul, the Battle of Hastings starting now.

PM: The Battle of Hastings began around about 11-35 in the morning and lasted for several hours. Oh the noise and the people, you couldn't believe it. It was considered at the time to be the most brutal, bloodiest conflict...


NP: So Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went, and with other points in the round, he's moved forward again. He's just ahead of Clement Freud and then Greg Proops and Chris Neill in that order. And we're on to Clement Freud now to speak on the subject of making small talk, 60 seconds Clement starting now.

CF: In a small Spanish community such as we have just heard about, making small talk is the only thing you can do because no-one exceeds five foot nine in height.


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: A slight hesitation.

NP: There was a hesitation.

CF: I stopped.

PM: Yeah.

NP: He stopped. And that we interpret as hesitation. So 48 seconds available, making small talk Paul starting now.

PM: I've never been particularly good at small talk. I suppose it means you are at a party and you say "oh those are very nice shoes" or "where did you buy your hat?" That kind of thing. I've never been very good at it. There I've said it again.


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Never.

NP: Never, never been very good at it. Back with you Clement, 40 seconds, making small talk starting now.

CF: What's become of the old piano your sister used to strangle? Is the sort of small talk...


NP: So who challenged? Chris you challenged first.

CN: Well was that deviation from small talk?

NP: It's a bit outrageous but made everybody laugh.

PM: Yes absolutely.

NP: All right Clement, benefit of the doubt, right, 32 seconds, making small talk starting now.

CF: Does your mother take in washing? Has she sold her mangle? All those little things that people say to one another when there is nothing of import to transmit in conversation...


NP: Chris challenged.

CN: Have you ever said does your mother take in washing?

NP: No, people do sort of dry up and suddenly you're at a party. You try it and say (starts to laugh)...

CN: So basically...

NP: Does your mother take in washing?

CN: ... you're saying...

PM: Does your mother take in washing? Is that a demob suit you're wearing?

NP: Yes.

CN: But isn't that slightly euphemistic. So you're saying if you're at a party and you slightly run out of things to say, oh is your mother still a prostitute?

PM: No she takes in washing.

NP: Yeah that's right.

CN: I'm not on my own with the euphemism, my dear, I know I'm not.

NP: Actually I don't think you would say that because it could be embarrassing. But it could be interpreted as small talk.

CN: Yeah I know.

NP: So Clement another benefit of the doubt and you have making small talk, 22 seconds starting now.

CF: War has broken out, or the end of the world has come, would not be collectively small talk, but rather big conversation. Things to stop the party, have someone run out for...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well we have moved on to big talk.

NP: On to big talk, deviation.

PM: Deviation from small talk.

NP: From small talk yes.

PM: Big conversation, small talk.

NP: Eight seconds for you Paul on making small talk starting now.

PM: I can see your operation scar from here is something that somebody said to me at a party only the other day and I realised...


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Repetition of day.

NP: No.

CF: He must have said day!

NP: You're a great bluffer Clement! So he gets another point for an incorrect challenge and three seconds on making small talk starting now.

PM: Ah Mister Peters, I remember when I had the allotment next to you...


NP: Well we're moving into the last round. Paul Merton is still in the lead. He's a few points ahead of Clement Freud. Clement is two or three points ahead of Greg Proops and Greg is a few points ahead of Chris Neill, in that order. And Chris your turn to begin, a secret I will never tell. Can you tell us something about that dramatic subject in this game starting now.

CN: A secret I will never tell is kept deep in my heart. Sometimes it makes me laugh, occasionally weep. On other instances I howl with joy as I recall it. I can't tell you what it is because it's a secret I will never tell.


NP: Greg you challenged.

GP: He stopped before the good part.

NP: Hesitation.

GP: So hesitation.

NP: I think Chris as you got that round of applause because you did dry up, we'll give you a little bonus point for that. But Greg you have a point for a correct challenge and you have 44 seconds, a secret I will never tell starting now.

GP: Chris's secret involves a pot of yoh-ghurt or yoghurt as it is said here. I hope that's not a repetition.


NP: Chris challenged.

CN: Deviation, it doesn't include a pot of yoghurt or yoh-ghurt.

GP: That's not what you said backstage Chris.

NP: No Chris you got the benefit of the doubt and you have the subject, 37 seconds, a secret I will never tell starting now.

CN: How glad I am to have the subject of a secret I will never tell. There is so much to say on that particular...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: You're lying! He doesn't want the subject at all!

NP: I know he doesn't.

PM: You can see he wants to get rid of it.

NP: I know he doesn't, but he's still got it.

PM: Deviation from the truth, yes.

NP: No you get a bonus point because they enjoyed your interruption. But Claire, Chris...

CN: Claire?

PM: Maybe that's the secret!

NP: Chris you've got a point because you were interrupted, a secret I will never tell and there are 30 seconds starting now.

CN: A secret that I have never told until now is that Nicholas Parsons calls me Claire. It makes me feel warm inside, not in a radioactive way you understand, but more, more emotionally, more...


NP: Greg Proops challenged.

GP: Three mores.

NP: There was much more too much of more, yes. Greg you got in with 19 seconds, a secret I will never tell starting now.

GP: Claire was telling me backstage about a day when he had... oh!


GP: You see it right in front of you and then it just turns into a big white tunnel! There was my grandfather standing at the end of it. "Greg," he said, "don't hesitate!" And then I heard a bell.

NP: And Clement you challenged first, right 15 seconds, a secret I will never tell starting now.

CF: A secret I will never tell is Paul Merton's secret. And I promised I will tell everybody about it. He was 11 years old and his underpants were missing. People looked everywhere, on the floor, on the ceiling...


NP: Well Clement was speaking then, only just as the whistle went. And Chris Neill, who did so well to start with, but then kept telling everybody when he repeated himself, finished up only just, but a very marvellous brilliant fourth place. And Greg Proops who had a bit of a slow start but he burst forth after a time, finished up...

CN: I'm still mopping up!

GP: It's all that nobbling!

NP: ... in an excellent third place. Clement Freud who gave his usual tremendous value got a huge number of points and was in second place, didn't quite get enough to overtake Paul Merton who was out in the lead. So we say this week Paul Merton, you are our winner! So it only remains for me to say thank you to these four engaging players of the game, Paul Merton, Greg Proops, Chris Neill and Clement Freud. I thank Charlotte Davies, who has helped me with the score, blown her whistle with such style every time the 60 seconds was up. And we thank our producer Tilusha Ghelani. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing and delightful game. And we are very grateful to this lovely audience here at the Theatre Royal, in Winchester, who have really cheered us on our way magnificently. From all of us here, tune in again the next time we play Just A Minute! Good-bye!