NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to the third volume of Just A Classic Minute. Once again we have trawled through the BBC archives to select four different programmes from the three decades prior to the year 2000. We have chosen two from the 70s, one from the 80s and one from the 90s, all individual and amusing, and also somewhat indicative of the time when they were transmitted, illustrating that while the show over the last 39 years has been consistently entertaining, it has also continued to evolve. The first programme in this volume is from 1977, and features three of the original players of the game, the incomparable Kenneth William,s the engaging Peter Jones, and the witty Clement Freud. It also includes a guest who was appearing for only the second time, which is always a challenge when you are competing with three experienced exponents of the game. He is Ray Alan, a well-known and talented ventriloquist who does surprisingly well. Kenneth was in great form in this recording, and at one point gets carried away and starts playing to the audience. And when Kenneth is on song, there is no holding him, and his performance is quite electric and very funny. At one point he even dries up and makes himself laugh. Peter Jones contributes a great deal on a number of subjects. It's only in later years he evolved a technique as he grew older of letting others do most of the work and coming in with witty comments and ripostes. Clement gave his usual good value. But the edition is memorable for one round in which Ray Alan was asked to talk on gread and gutter, a subject thought up by the creator of the game Ian Messiter, which is the conventional phrase that bad ventriloquists are supposed to use. Ray goes for a whole minute on this, with some indulgence which the regulars frequently extend to a newcomer, especially if that player is going well. It's interesting to note that my style and delivery in this recording is slower and more measured in keeping with the kind of presenting that was more prevalent in the 70s. I hope you enjoy the show.

ANNOUNCER: We present Ray Alan, Clement Freud, Peter Jones and Kenneth Williams in Just A Minute. And as the Minute Waltz fades away, here to tell you about it is our chairman, Nicholas Parsons.

NP: Thank you, thank you very much, hello and welcome to Just A Minute. And as usual they will try and speak if they can on the subject that I will give them without hesitation, without repetition and without deviating from the subject on the card. We begin the show this week with Kenneth Williams. Kenneth, you're obviously in good form so let us hear from you right away. The subject is pride. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

KENNETH WILLIAMS: Pride goeth before destruction and then haughty spirit before a fall. Now that is the correct quotation but most people get it wrong, as is the case in many of these lovely old sayings with which our language is so very rich. But the pride I think of continually is this dreadful man who started what was called Pride's purge which resulted in the depletion of the House of Commons to the tune, as you well remember my friend, of 100 members who were loyal to their rightful King. Well he was a rotter! And let there be no mistake about that! On Cromwell's side of course, the dirty rotten filthy regicide! I've got no time for those people! And he had the indecency I would say to sign the death warrant when it came to that dreadful what-do-you-call-it, um...


KW: What do you call it, that um..

NP: Clement Freud has challenged you.

CLEMENT FREUD: Hesitation and repetition of dreadful and er...

NP: And ...

CF: Good evening!

NP: He didn't repeat good evening but he did hesitate and Clement you have a correct challenge. You get a point for that and you take over the subject of pride and there are eight seconds left starting now.

CF: The French refer to pride as amour propre meaning own love. And I think it's a very good definition indeed because...


NP: Well when Ian Messiter blows his whistle it tells us that 60 seconds are up and as you probably know whoever is speaking at that moment gains an extra point and it was Clement Freud. And once again at the end of the first round Clement Freud is the only one to score. He has two points and he starts the second round for us. Clement the subject is my favourite place and 60 seconds starting now.

CF: I am really rather torn between what my favourite place is or should be, because there are so many places in which I have been which have a very good right to favouritism because I am fairly elderly and been around as you might say. Maudie Hill is high in my list. Wartheswick must come close. The constituency of the Isle of Ely generally is very very near to my heart...


CF: Very near!

NP: Kenneth Williams has challenged.

CF: Very very near!

NP: Very very near! Kenneth there are 32 seconds...

CF: I do think sincerity is more important here than the minutiae of this game.

NP: Thirty-two seconds are left Kenneth and the subject is my favourite place starting now.

KW: My favourite place is a little grassy knoll reclining gently in the English hillside just by Devils Punchbowl where on a style I have sat caressing many old mementos and...


KW: Shut up, I have!


KW: What happened!

NP: Peter Jones challenged you.

KW: You dirty rotter!

NP: You're the dirty one!

PETER JONES: Hesitation!

NP: There was definite hesitation...

KW: There was no hesitation, was there! No! I never did hesitate did I!


KW: There you are! They know what they're talking about! They're not insane those people! They're all certified aren't you!

NP: Yes! Same as you! My goodness me! Talk about playing an audience up! Peter had a correct challenge when you were talking about playing with your mementos there! There are 13 seconds left Peter, the subject is my favourite place starting now.

PJ: My favourite plaice is called Norman and he lives in the aquarium at Sydney. And he's got a grey bottom and a very white front and he goes around keeping his mouth open and closed continually...


NP: Now Peter Jones kept going till the whistle went and gained that extra point and with the opther point he got, he's now equal in the lead with Clement Freud. And Peter it's your turn to begin. The subject is my piggy bank. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

PJ: Well it's actually a large jam jar and it contains I'm proud to say upwards of nine pounds! And I've calculated that I must put in at least tuppence a day to keep the value of the money that is in it. Otherwise it will start going down. That's inflation! Now I'm hoping that at Christmas time I shall be presented with a real piggy bank, shaped like a pig made of porcelain or perhaps er metal of some kind...


NP: Kenneth Williams has challenged.

KW: Hesitation, perhaps er.

NP: Yes yes a tough challenge but...

KW: Yes I am afraid so but I am a pretty tough customer!

PJ: He plays to win!

NP: Stop making filthy faces at the audience! And try and talk on my piggy bank for 33 seconds starting now.

KW: My piggy bank literally exploded before my very eyes! And fragments were showered all over the room! Hoho I cried!


NP: Clement Freud has challenged!

CF: Repetition of ho!

NP: Right Clement! So you have 23 seconds to talk about my piggy bank starting now.

CF: My bank is not so much piggy as just rather dirty, grubby. The carpet has weeds and old cheque stubs, relief pen nibs...


NP: Kenneth Williams has challenged.

KW: What's this about the carpet has what in it? I couldn't believe it! Did you hear that Nick?

NP: Yes I did hear it. I don't quite know what it was all about it.

KW: Weeds in a carpet! Weeds growing in a, how could weed grow in a carpet? I mean did you hear that Nick?

NP: What? I don't...

KW: I mean, my hearing! That is deviation isn't it?

NP: Oh shut up a minute!

KW: But Nick...

NP: I must give him the benefit of the doubt and say Clement you have 14 seconds to continue on my piggybank starting now.


NP: And Kenneth Williams has challenged.

KW: Well I'm afraid hesitation. He never, he never came in!

NP: No he never, he never came in, no. But you have 13 seconds for my piggy bank starting now.

KW: It was a lovely colour, a sort of tangeriney I suppose it could be described. Although orange would probably describe it equally well...


NP: Ah Kenneth Williams, Clement Freud I'm sorry has challenged.

CF: Repetition of describe.

NP: Yes and you have three seconds Clement on my piggy bank starting now.

CF: My piggy bank has a slot...


NP: Well at the end of that round Clement Freud has increased his lead, he's gone way ahead of Peter Jones and Kenneth Williams who is now in second place. And Ray Alan who has yet to speak is going to begin the next round. Ray, welcome back to the show and will you talk...

RAY ALAN: Oh have I, have I got to wake up now?

NP: Ah yes! And we've got a lovely subject for you to talk about too! Gread and gutter!

RA: Oh God!

NP: Can you talk in Just A Minute about gread and gutter starting now.

RA: What a ridiculous phrase this is. It's always attributed to bad ventriloquists although I must confess I have personally never heard anyone say gread and gutter and mean it seriously. It is a sort of burlesque on my particular art. And when people get up there with a dummy on their knee they usually say gread and gutter or they say gottle of geer or who's a naughty goy or isn't it nice to see all the geogle? And here we are at the London Galladium! Or at the Gee Gee Cee! Where everybody's having a narvellous time! Because Nicholas Garsons is the chairman! With Geter Jones, they've got Kenneth Nilliams! And they've got Clement Freud! And then they have the nuzzer and they interrupt you when you start legeating yourself! Why do you allow this, that's what gread and gutter is all agout! It's talking without saying a gee or a gee! And if you can all do it when you clause at the end of this giece you'll find that gread and gutter...


NP: Well that was a gread and gutter tour de force, it really was! You kept going magnificently Ray and for 60 seconds. You get a point for speaking as the whistle went, a bonus point for not being interrupted and I'm going to give you another bonus point for not repeating yourself, hesitating or repetition. I think he deserves it. He hasn't played the game so often. Kenneth Williams is only two behind our leader in third place and Peter Jones is four behind Clement Freud who's going to begin the next round. And the subject Clement is getting a duck. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

CF: Getting a duck is a popular term for being out without scoring when you play cricket. And the way you may get a duck is either to be clean bowled or to be stumped. Alternatively be caught by striking the ball into the air and it remaining in the hands of a fielder before it touches the ground. Running out a man is another way of being dismissed in the noble game which is played at Lords cricket ground...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Repetition of another.

NP: Yes that's right. Another way of being out. Well done Peter, well listened. There are 30 seconds now for you to tell us something about getting a duck starting now.

PJ: Well once you've got your duck the first thing to do is to try and stop it quacking. Now you can wring its neck or you could put a paper bag over its head and...


NP: Kenneth Williams.

KW: We don't want to hear this disgusting filth! I mean it's supposed to be family entertainment! We don't want to hear about slaughtering lovely things, do we?

NP: So what is your challenge?

KW: Deviation! I mean the most horrible note is being introduced into what is a light hearted and charming affair!

PJ: It's...

KW: People like me sitting here all dolled up, with nowhere to go of course...

PJ: No no no...

NP: He was not deviating from the subject of getting a duck...

KW: Oh! We all know what side you're on don't we! Mmmm!

NP: I try to be on the side of fair play...

KW: He's dropping you after isn't he! He's dropping you! You can see it a mile off, can't you! Look at him! He's gone red! He's gone red! He's gone red now!

NP: What are you talking about!

KW: You can see it a mile off!

NP: He's only dropping me on the corner of the road so I can get my bus!

KW: Oh!

NP: Peter there are 12 seconds for you, getting a duck starting now.

PJ: May I assure children everywhere that this is a very old duck and I am only...


PJ: I am only euthanasing it!

NP: Clement Freud has challenged.

CF: I just wanted to ask whether they are now older than a goose!

PJ: He's deviating!

NP: Peter Jones has got another point and there are six seconds for getting a duck Peter starting now.

PJ: I introduce the gas pipe into the paper bag and very soon the duck will...


NP: Clement Freud has challenged again.

CF: Repetition of paper bag.

NP: Yes I'm afraid we had the paper bag before Peter.

PJ: Yes we did yes.

NP: So Clement got in there with only half a second to go...

PJ: Fancy leaving the duck in this state and not being able to...

NP: Well there's half a second to go Clement, maybe you can finish off the duck in getting a duck starting now.

CF: Quack!


NP: Well the last quack came from Clement Freud and he got a point for doing it because the whistle went and he has increased his lead. Peter Jones your turn to begin. The subject, the octopus. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

PJ: Well I was going to give you a very good recipe for cooking octopus. But in view of what Kenneth said about the last subject, I feel that it may give offence and upset people if I describe exactly how you go about it. So what can I say about it? An octopus can be a very nice pet if you happen to live near the water and are not afraid of being strangled to death. It's wise of course to give the octopus a tranquliser or two first thing in the morning so that it's not quite as quick on its... suckers... and its tentacles...


NP: Kenneth...

KW: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation. No the octopus wasn't going to be quite so quick on its suckers so he naturally went a bit slower! And so um I want to know about this doped octopus! I want to know how he managed to dope him and give him the sedative! There are 25 seconds for the octopus with you still Peter starting now.

PJ: And they can be a very valuable source of ink if you have to use a fountain pen that requires filling, you buy er one of er those old...


NP: Kenneth Williams.

KW: Hesitation.

NP: Yeah I agree with the hesitation that time. He was getting a bit bogged down there. There are 16 seconds for the octopus with you Kenneth starting now.

KW: It has all these long nasty tentacles which do come out and grab you in the most unlikely places. Occasionally you think oh I wish I had a duck-billled platypus instead because they don't get up to those kind of nasty tricks..


NP: Well it's a very close contest. Kenneth Williams got an extra point for speaking as the whistle went. And the situation now is that Clement Freud is in the lead but only one point behind comes Peter Jones, only one point behind him Kenneth Williams and only one point behind him Ray Alan. And Ray Alan, your turn to begin. The subject, talking to myself. Will you tell us something about that, I have no doubt you can tell us something about that, in Just A Minute starting now.

RA: Well when I was a child I had no-one to play with. So I had to talk to myself. And I had a little friend who was an imaginary one and I used to have a conversation with him. But when I grew up I realised that walking along the street moving my lips and not having anyone else to talk to was a bit strange. So I got myself a little character that I called a doll and everybody else called a dummy and I stuck it on my knee and I used to say things like "you silly arse" and one or two other odd little lines which became catchphrases here and there at various schools and things I went to entertain. And it suddenly dawned on me that there I was talking to myself for a living! A sad thing for a grown man to be doing! There were no white coats around rushing to take me anywhere, they were just offering me money! I'm up here on a stage in front of people let loose...


NP: Well Ray Alan really is getting this game taped. Once again he took the subject and finished with the subject in 60 seconds so he gets, gets a point for speaking when the whistle went and a bonus point for not being interrupted. And so Ray you're now in second place with Peter Jones, only one behind Clement Freud. Kenneth your turn to begin. The subject is my strength. Will you tell us something... He is very strong, let me tell you, mentally and physically. Kenneth will you tell us something about the subject in Just A Minute starting now.

KW: Yes it lies largely in my ability to contract the abdominal muscles which an actor finds absolutely essential to reproduce the voice and especially with regard to I am the peptameter. At the bar she sat in! The burning throne burned on the water! The poop...


KW: Oh shut up! Who made me laugh? Who was it? It was him!

NP: You made yourself laugh...

KW: He done it deliberate! He done it deliberate! He crosses his eyes right at you just when I'm on the point! It's wicked honestly! Taking advantage like that!

NP: Yes...

KW: Yes! I'm being taken advantage of! Isn't that right Nick!

NP: Well I think he was taking advantage of exactly the same...

KW: I knew what I was doing! You know I did Nick! I didn't fall! I didn't fall! I didn't fall by the wayside did I?

NP: I don't know, I think you've fallen years ago, quite frankly! But he was only doing one of the tricks that you indulge in and it was Ray Alan who charl, challenged. Ray what was your challenge?

RA: Well there was a slight hesitation...

NP: Oh it was indeed a hesitation...

RA: Just a slight one!

NP: And you have another point and you're equal in the lead and you have 36 seconds for my strength starting now.

RA: My strength must lie in the fact that I've come on to this programme again. But this is something else of course, mental strength and physical strength. There is the difference. Physical well that's another...


NP: Clement Freud has challenged.

RA: Yes I did, I knew I did! I knew I did when I did it and I'm sorry I did it! And he's right!

NP: Yes too much physical.

RA: I'm afraid so yes.

NP: Twenty-five seconds are left for my strength...

RA: Better than being too mental!

NP: With you Clement starting now.

CF: My physical strength lies predominantly in my arms and my legs. I would like to begin with the left side on which I have one of each limb. The upper one having five fingers each with a nail and incredible strength is contained therein. I can remember the day when I was an under-12 boxer which is something like being an over eight bloodhound only on two legs and...


NP: Well Clement Freud has increased his lead at the end of that round speaking as the whistle went, an extra point and we're round to him to start the round and the subject is second sight. So what can you tell us about that Clement in Just A Minute starting now.

CF: When you are an over-12 boxer second sight is incredibly important because the man in the other corner of the ring comes to you and gives you a left upper cut, a right to the heart and then kicks you...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: If you're an under-12 boxer you don't fight a man in the other corner!

CF: I did say over-12!

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

CF: I did say over-12!

NP: He's got a new ploy, Clement Freud has. If he disagrees with my decisions he's going to mutter.

CF: But I did say over-12! But it's not important!

NP: Over-12 yes, fighting a man in a corner. But it's a good challenge and it's time to hear from Peter Jones and there are 48 seconds for second sight Peter starting now.

PJ: Second sight is the sight that comes after first sight. And so if you see something and then you see it again...


NP: Kenneth Williams has...

KW: Two sees I thought.

NP: Yes! You see you are undone.

PJ: Yes quite yes.

NP: And there are 40 seconds for second sight with Kenneth starting now.

KW: Second sight is often referred to in our business as a double take. And you will say "hello I thought I'd seen you before but here you are large as life and twice as natural lit up like a blooming Christmas tree! And what joy you bring to my tired old eyes! How you make the eardrobes loop!" Eh?


KW: What's going on here? Have they got a couple of drunks up the back?

NP: Well I'll tell you actually, what I think happened is Ray Alan challenged and at the same time he threw his voice and Lord Charles ...

KW: Yes that could have been it yes. What was his challenge Nick?

NP: What was your challenge Ray?

RA: Oh hesitation.

NP: I'm afraid there was! And I'm not surprised either! But it was a correct challenge so there are 13 seconds for you Ray on second sight starting now.

RA: I had an aunt who professed that she had second sight and she always used to phone me up and say "don't come today, it won't be a good one, don't ride your bicycle, it's not safe..."


NP: Kenneth Williams.

KW: Two don'ts I'm afraid.

NP: Yes you're right.

RA: He is so right.

NP: Yes. That's a tough challenge, they get away with it. But you got in with only half a second to go Kenneth and it's second sight starting now.

KW: Ectoplasm! That's the ...


NP: Well this is turning out to be one of the closest contests with Ray Alan and Kenneth Williams now together in second place only one point behind our leader Clement Freud and they're both only one point ahead of Peter Jones in third place. Peter we're with you again to start and the subject is a piece of cake. Will you tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

PJ: Well I can make a very good cake which is a type of madeira. And a piece of that with a glass of madeira itself...


NP: Ohhh Kenneth you challenged.

KW: We had two madeiras.

PJ: Oh yes yes there we are!

NP: So Kenneth has now gone into the lead equal with Clement Freud and I've just had a message to say this will have to be the last round. So a piece of cake and it won't be a piece of cake the round I'm sure but will you start with 51 seconds left now.

KW: My friend Bernie Spakewell cried "pooh! What's in this cake? It stinks like Bombay duck!" I said "Well I put it in the oven with powder which I thought was all right but turned out to be indigestion stuff and the whole thing's gone green!" The stink in the oven was atrocious!


NP: Ray Alan has...

RA: I just wanted to say before I leave the programme what a great pleasure it's been working with a great intellect like Kenneth Williams, a man I can listen to for hours! And really I'm sorry there's not longer!

NP: So what is your challenge?

RA: It's not a challenge, I just thought I may not have a chance to say that!

NP: Well it was very nice of you to say it and you know what happens when you do that. Obviously he was trying to get in and he couldn't think of anything having pressed his buzzer because it's so close. But what happens is by interrupting the other person gets a point. And you have a point and you're in the lead now Kenneth and there are 34 seconds left, a piece of cake starting now.

KW: Nothing better than when it's decorated with icing and angelica balls. How beautiful they look! And the number should always equate to the years you are...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Well I was challenging just to make sure poor old Kenneth gets an extra point! Because he's always been very kind to me and I feel now he's in this, in this position I would like to ensure his success!

NP: I think this is going to be a piece of cake for you Kenneth, you don't need your angelica balls or anything. So Peter has given you another point by his incorrect challenge and you still have 24 seconds left for a piece of cake starting now.

KW: Many is the piece of seed cake that I have eaten furtively in the bushes of St Pancreas' Gardens. And often old ladies have come up and pityingly said "aaah son can't you afford a decent meal or a bowl..." (starts to giggle)


KW: He's doing it again! He's going cross-eyed and making me laugh!

NP: Clement Freud has challenged again.

KW: (giggling) I'm afraid that all this...hahahhahahahahahahahaaha! Oh it's dreadfully difficult isn't it?

NP: Yes well the man beside you who wasn't making funny eyes has challenged you.

KW: Yes that's right!

NP: Yes Clement what is your challenge?

CF: I simply wanted to reciprocate the good wishes...

NP: So its Kenneth Williams Charity Week and he's got another point from Clement Freud, another point which this time came from Clement Freud. There are nine seconds for a piece of cake and no particular round has ever been more of a piece of cake to anybody. You start now Kenneth.

KW: A birthday is when they say "go on, have one good blow and get them all done at the same time. And I gargantuanly...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: I would like to take this opportunity of congratulating Kenneth on his great success...

KW: Oh Peter!

PJ: Slightly premature but I would like to do it. I thought I may not have an opportunity later on.

NP: I think now actually he's taken it a bit too far! He doesn't need such praise, he deserves it anyway! All right Kenneth there is only one second left for a piece of cake starting now.

KW: I eat my cake humbly...


KW: Humble pie is what I always...

NP: Oh no! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! You clapped because the second was up but the whistle hadn't gone and Clement Freud challenged!

CF: I wanted to second that!

NP: Kenneth there are half, half a second for a piece of cake starting now.

KW: Well I should take the cake after all that!



NP: Ray Alan did actually press his buzzer as the whistle went. What were you going to say Ray?

RA: I wanted to third it, that was all!

NP: Well he can't get any more points, he's got quite enough. Because at the end of that round and the end of the contest let me tell you Peter Jones was in fourth place, only one point behind Ray Alan. But they were all quite a number of points behind this week's winner who is Kenneth Williams. In fact you might say that that particular win, that particular win was a piece of cake for Kenneth Williams! And we hope you've enjoyed the show as well as Kenneth Williams and that you'll want to tune in again next week when once again we will all take to the air and play this delightful ridiculous impossible and fun game ... And will you stop making faces Kenneth at the audience, so I can say... what the devil do I say at this point? Oh yes I say from all of us here goodbye!


ANNOUNCER: The chairman of Just A Minute was Nicholas Parsons. The programme was devised by Ian Messiter and produced by John Browell.