NOTE: Pauline McLynn's final appearance.

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Oh thank you, thank you. Hello, my name is Nicholas Parsons. And as the Minute Waltz fades away once more, it is my huge pleasure to welcome our many listeners not only in this country, but around the world. But also to welcome to the programme this week four talented, exciting performers who are going to display their way with words, their verbal ingenuity and rapport as they try and speak on a subject that I will give them, and they try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And those four are, seated on my right, Paul Merton and Gyles Brandreth. And seated on my left, Pauline McLynn and Graham Norton. Will you please welcome all four of them! Seated beside me is Sarah Sharpe, who is going to help me with the score, and blow a whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the Radio Theatre in the heart of Broadcasting House. And we're going to begin the show with Graham Norton. Who better? Graham oh this is interesting. The subject is how to out-do the other panellists. You have 60 seconds as usual starting now.

GRAHAM NORTON: By far the easiest way to out-do the other panellists is by heaping praise on our chairman Nicholas Parsons. Compliment his hair, his jaunty jacket, his colourful tie. And surely, benefit of the doubt will heap upon you and points will be yours. You will be carried from this Radio Teatre... teatre?


NP: Paul challenged.

GN: Come on, that's allowed, I'm from Ireland!

PAULINE McLYNN: Teatre! That's the way we say it!

NP: Paul you challenged.

PAUL MERTON: Deviation, he had Teatre instead of Theatre.

GYLES BRANDRETH: It was the Irish pronunciation. I think it was quite correct.

NP: So the benefit of the doubt!

GN: Oh!

PMc: Oh!

NP: And you keep the subject, 40 seconds still available, how to out-do the other panellists starting now.

GN: I think there you saw a happy demonstration of how to out-do the other panellists.


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: Deviation, I didn't find it happy at all!

NP: Give Paul a bonus point because we enjoyed the interruption. But Graham you were interrupted so you have 35 seconds to continue with how to out-do the other panellists starting now.

GN: How to out-do the other panellists is to speak when Nicholas says now, but I've already said Nicholas.


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: Repetition of Nicholas.

NP: That's right, you had Nicholas before.

GN: Curse ye Gods!

GB: You can't have too much Nicholas on this show, can we!

PMc: That's how to out-do the other panellists!

GB: Benefit of something, yeah! Payment in kind?

NP: I'd like to give you, you know, a bonus point for that, but I am far too modest. Therefore Paul you had a correct challenge, you have 27 seconds on how to out-do the other panellists starting now.

PMe: It's not easy to out-do the other panellists. Sometimes you can lay verbal tricks. They think you've said something before, and then you find actually it was a trick, and you didn't...


NP: Pauline challenged.

PMc: Repetition of trick?

NP: No no no darling, it was trick and tricks.

PMc: Oh come on! No way! Now I have to say that this is a rule that has always bothered me Nicholas.

NP: I know.

PMc: Because you know how I always...

NP: You haven't played the game as much as the others and that's one of the clever ways they have of doing it. So Paul, an incorrect challenge, 18 seconds still available...

PMc: Tawwwwww.

NP: How to out-do the other panellists starting now.

PMe: Praising Nicholas Parsons is a rather passe way of succeeding at this show. However I am going to give it a go as everybody does. When I look at that beautiful masculine form, I can't help but think of King Kong in that wonderful movie Nicholas Parsons Versus Godzilla...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Repetition of Nicholas.

NP: Yes and Parsons.

PMe: Yeah. Give us the benefit of the doubt then.

NP: No!

PMe: A little bit of flattery in there...

NP: There was no benefit of the doubt, it was an obvious correct challenge. And Gyles you've got in with one second to go. It's won you no friends in the audience. But you have the subject with one second on how to out-do the other panellists starting now.

GB: Being your love child has helped...


NP: So in this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Gyles Brandreth so he has two points at the end of that round. Paul has three, Graham has two and Pauline hasn't attempted one. But Pauline will you begin the next round.

PMc: I certainly will.

NP: A lovely subject, tea, tell us something about tea in this game starting... Oh I think they've got the connection between a certain character you used to play. But talk on it, 60 seconds starting now.

PMc: Tea is not such an unusual subject for me to speak upon because I once was a tea lady. I like my tea in the builder's variety. I'm not very fond of herbal or fruit teas because I think they always deliver less than they promise. I'm very bad at making tea, even the builder's tea, I make it quite weak...


NP: Oh Paul challenged.

PMc: Oh I can say it, was it builder's? Wasn't it! Men, men, men, my downfall!

NP: You realised what you did wrong. Paul you challenged.

PMe: Repetition of builder's.

NP: Builder's yes. So you have tea, you have 41 seconds, to talk about it starting now.

PMe: It's pretty good for you as a drink. The green variety is even better than the black leaf. But if you are really keen on promoting good health through sipping tea, then I can...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Really good for you and if you're keen on promoting good health.

GN: Oh!

GB: Repetition of the word good.

NP: Yes! Well listened.

GN: Oh it's like it's a game!

PMc: Excellent!

NP: You have 31 seconds on tea starting now.


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: Hesitation.

NP: Yes, so you have the subject, 29 and a half seconds Paul on tea starting now.

PMe: It's grown in Japan, China, India, where it's drunk by the Chinese, the Japanese, the Indians. Throughout the world you'll find grateful citizens coming home towards the end of the evening, looking at their loved ones, reaching for a cup off the mantlepiece and the two of them getting down the old teapot that was given to them at their ruby wedding anniversary. And they look into each other's eyes and they share a little cup of darjeeling. Oh how we danced...


NP: Gyles you challenged.

GB: Repetition of cup.

NP: Once again you got with only four seconds to go, tea starting now.

GB: The eastern mystic who originated tea tore off his eyelids and threw them to the ground.


NP: So at the end of that round Gyles Brandreth was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now equal with Paul in the lead, five points apiece, and Graham comes next and then Pauline. And Gyles we'd like you to begin the next round, I think this could have been chosen for you, the subject is pretentious vocabulary! And you have 60 seconds as usual. I should explain to our listeners, Gyles has never looked more eager. Instead of the rather tense look he has on his face on occasions, it's all smiles and bon homie as he goes on pretentious vocabulary starting now.

GB: I suspect this has come about Nicholas in a most amusing and delightful way. Because once I said to you a slight inclination of the cranium is as adequate as a spasmodic movement of one optic to an equine quadruped utterly devoid of visionary capacity when I really meant a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. And you said "pretentious vocabulary, mon pa? We don't need any of that on our show." And I replied "in your presence, monsieur we need to talk in the most remarkable way because language is power. It's what defines us and differentiates us from the animals, whose hands do trail upon the ground." As the great philosopher Bertrand Russell said "No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, it cannot tell you that its parents were poor but honest". A pretentious vocabulary allows this. William Shakespeare had pretentious vocabulary of 30,000 different words. James Joyce in just one work Ulysses used a comparable number, several of which I hope you have not yet come across, oh my gorgeous chairman! When we speak of the language or vocabulary, pretention, beauty, honestness and exotic power, they all come to bear. And tension is mounting and here we are as The Minute Waltz fades away and the second series begins, the autumn comes upon us, night falls, dusk rises and we think about our language and its beauty...


NP: Well Gyles Brandreth started with the subject...

GB: I can go away now.

PMc: He's off.

GB: I'll be on my way now.

NP: And with a little help from the rest of the panel who got the message which I let out, let him go! And he went with aplomb and style for one minute and 15 seconds. Listeners, the audience here were in on the secret because I took the whistle out of Sarah's mouth when 60 seconds was up so that we can have more fun at Gyles' expense. So Gyles you get a point for speaking when the whistle should have gone and you get another point for not being interrupted actually. That's what happens in this game. So at the end of that round you've increased your lead and nobody else has scored anything in that round. Paul will you take the next round, the subject is accents. Tell us something about accents in this game starting now.

PMe: (in Alec Guinness voice) Many years ago I saw the wonderful Peter Sellers on the Michael Parkinson Show. And in that particular television recording, he did an impression of Alec Guinness from the film Kind Hearts And Coronets. This of course is the movie where the aforementioned actor plays eight different parts. This is the vicar that I am doing now. (in Ringo Starr voice) The first time that I met the other Beatles I thought to myself I can't be the drummer, because they've already got one. (normal voice) That also is from the same movie. (in Oxbridge accent) Accents are very important. When I joined Radio Four back in 1986, I was told in no uncertain terms "the bins are round the back!" I've never forgotten that advice, I believe it was the great Bertrand Russell himself, the philosopher, who uttered the immortal phrases I'm sorry...


NP: So Paul Merton started with the subject, and kept going for 60 seconds without being interrupted, without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Proving that he can do it as well and in his different way and in a different voice actually as well. So at the end of that round Paul, you are now equal in the lead with Gyles Brandreth. And we don't often get two complete rounds of 60 seconds in the same show. But it was a memorable moment in its own way. The audience has gone very quiet.

PMe: They've gone to buy souvenir postcards!

PMc: They're very very afraid now! That's what's wrong!

NP: Graham... they're in awe actually! Graham we're back with you to begin...

GN: Let the buzzers begin!

NP: I'm I'm fascinated to...

GN: This is like normal play resumes!

NP: I don't know why this subject's been chosen for you Graham but I'm sure you can talk on it. Waxing, 60 seconds starting now.

GN: I'm a little bit hairy. I mean not furry like a monkey, but I have had some waxing done. It's really cruel and horrible. It does rip your flesh from bits of your body that aren't normally seen so why go to that bother. Far easier to turn a light out, I find! Waxing is also very expensive and usually it's a straaaaaaange sadomasochistic...


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: It's a bit elongated the strange.

NP: It was elongated but...

GN: I was stressing the word.

NP: Yes he was stressing the word, he elongated it...

PMe: He was elongating...

NP: I don't think it was enough to be interpreted as hesitation.

PMe: No?

NP: Right so Paul you have, I mean Graham you have the benefit of the doubt, you have 35 seconds, waxing still with you starting now.

GN: Moons wax as well. Waxing that's something you do in a candle factory. But mainly waxing is to do with the removal of that stuff that grows on the skin...


GN: Which I haven't said before, I don't think actually! I was searching for one I hadn't.

GB: That was a hesitation.

NP: That was a hesitation yes, he was running out of things to say, right. Ah Gyles correct challenge, 23 seconds, with you on waxing starting now

GB: I come naturally waxed and that was a problem I've had since I was young because...


GB: I'm sorry?

PMc: Oh I'm glad you stopped him there! Oh! Oh dear oh dear!

PMe: That had to be stopped there!

PMc: Yes! Nipped in the bud!

PMe: I come naturally waxed!

GB: Yes!

PMe: How do you make that out then?

GB: Oh get a life man! Just cope! Cope!

PMe: Cope with you being naturally waxed?

GB: Yeah!

PMe: Deviation, you can't be naturally waxed!

GB: I am naturally waxed, the...

GN: Don't make him prove it, Paul!

PMc: Please! It's ugly enough as it is!

NP: I'm inclined to agree with Paul, you can't be naturally waxed.

GB: Yes yes...

GN: Again, let's not push the point. Just let him, let him, let him say it and get on!

NP: No no...

PMc: Dear lord!

GB: But it is, it's actually a hormonal thing I'm going to explain.

PMe: What? You secrete wax? From your body?

GB: It's a hormonal, it's a hormonal thing.

NP: Can I say...

PMc: You can't have hormonal waxing!

NP: Can I ask you a straightforward question.

GB: Yes.

NP: Have you got any hair on your body?

GB: No!

PMc: Yes you do, eh! Deviation!

GB: My head is not my body.

PMc: He's got hair on his head, he's got eyebrows

GB: My head is not my body. I have not got hair on my body.

NP: Show us your chest!

GN: No! No! No!

PMc: Your head is on your body! Oh my God! I say!

NP: Come on! Come on! Off! Come on! Off! Off!

GB: No I'm sorry.

GN: What has happened to Radio Four? An audience for Just A Minute shouting "Off! Off! Off!" It's a world turned upside down!

PMe: It's exactly the same on Gardener's Question Time!

NP: If you're not going to physically prove it, even though it is radio, I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to Paul and tell him to carry on with 17 seconds to go on waxing starting now.

PMe: It used to be an essential part of the record industry when those particular discs were made of wax. If you think back to the early days of sound recording, it must have been extraordinarily difficult to fix these little waxing cylinders into the machine, and try to get the reproduction of Caruso's voice...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went and gained that extra point. He's now one ahead of Gyles Brandreth, he's a few ahead of Graham Norton and then Pauline McLynn in that order. And Pauline we'd like you to begin the next round and the subject is junk mail. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PMc: When people think about junk mail, they probably consider it to be all of those letters that gather on the carpet inside of the door. Me, not so much so. I think junk mail, I think I've gone out with a few of those. I've lived with them, I've married one or two. Junk mail to me is not the missive that tells you to buy something useless, or tries to give you insurance that you really really don't want...


NP: Paul challenged.

PMc: Oh! Let me guess!

PMe: It was repetition, it was...

NP: It is one of the tricks of Just A Minute that is so easy, we often say really really and that is repetition in this game. So Paul spotted it first and you have 37 seconds Paul on junk mail starting now.

PMe: Junk mail has of course increased dramatically over the decades. We now get it electronically. It used to be just substances coming through your letterbox saying "do you want to have the cleanest windows in Norberry? Then join our free monthly offer!"


NP: Gyles challenged.

PMe: What a boring leaflet that would have been!

NP: Gyles your challenge.

GB: Hesitation.

NP: Yes I agree with the hesitation. So Gyles you have 24 seconds and the subject is junk mail starting now.

GB: At my prep school where I first discovered I had a hormonal problem, I used to send off at weekends for communications about this particular ailment. And as a consequence I received a great deal of junk mail. I then began building messerschmitts and ships including the Titanic, and eventually decided that a Chinese boat was what I wanted.


NP: Pauline you challenged.

PMc: Yes I, I, I think he would have built a model of the Titanic, he won't have built the Titanic. Now if he had, it would have sunk as well anyway, I know. I've ruined the movie for everyone!

GB: I explained that I was sending off for these things, a little baby messerschmitt and a model of the Titanic...

PMc: No you didn't say a model of the Titanic, you said I built the Titanic. Sorry!

NP: You did say that. And so...

GN: You, you probably don't want to lay claim to that!

PMc: There sre still insurance issues!

GN: Probably law suits, law suits pending!

NP: So the benefit of the doubt to Pauline McLynn on that...

PMc: Oh my God! What am I talking about, junk, oh no!

GN: You started the minute.

NP: It's the subject you started with but you've got it back again.

PMc: Oh!

NP: But you've only got four seconds. And you start now.

PMc: I've always thought that... every bit of...


NP: Paul challenged.

PMc: No! The cruelty of it! He's going to get me on hesitation.

PMe: Well it was a hesitation.

NP: It was a hesitation and I've got to be fair within the rules of Just A Minute.

GB: It was a Titanic hesitation, I thought!

NP: So Paul you have got two, one and a half seconds on junk mail starting now.

PMe: Junk mail says...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point and he's now gone into the lead ahead of Gyles Brandreth, Graham Norton and Pauline McLynn in that order. Gyles we're back with you to begin and the subject is groupies. Yes you tell us something about groupies in this game starting now.

GB: Oscar Wilde was plagued by groupies and indeed engaged a secretary to cope with them. Because people were wanting his autograph, and locks of his hair. After a while, one member of his staff died of the cramp and the other went totally bald. I cope with my groupies in this way. I just invite them around and say "come on in and see my natural waxing!" Because they're my friends, they're on my side. I know that they enjoy what they see and they find, once upon a time of course I had a chest wig. With matching underarm toupees. But now the groupies say to me, I have to admit to you...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Repetition of hair.

NP: He...

GN: Repetition of hair anyone? Is this on? Hello hello hello? Repetition of hair.

NP: No he didn't say hair twice.

GN: Yes he did, lock of the hair, underarm hair.

NP: Underarm hair, well done.

GB: No, underarm toupees.

PMc: He did say underarm toupees. Yeah.

GB: Displayed my chest wig and underarm toupees.

NP: Yes you're quite right.

PMc: Of course technically there is no such thing as an underarm toupee but we're giving him the benefit of the doubt.

NP: You're a bit late on challenging him on that, aren't you.

PMc: I know, but I want him to know that I know! That's the important thing!

NP: So Gyles...

PMc: I see you Brandreth!

NP: You have an incorrect challenge, 23 seconds, still with you groupies starting now.

GB: Sadly my groupies are not beautiful nymphettes as I would fantasise. They are older men and most of them seem to have a problem with dandruff and they have open toed sandals and they have trousers that are a little bit short for them. These are people who are on day release from certain institutions...


NP: Paul you've challenged.

PMe: He's describing what I'm wearing!

NP: Gyles was interrupted so he has the subject still and a point and six seconds on groupies starting now.

GB: My life as a rock star was a brief one but I have to tell you that the groupies that I gathered around me were the most exciting and illuminating people that I have ever met...


NP: So Gyles Brandreth was again speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, he's moved forward but he's one behind Paul Merton who is still in the lead. Graham Norton follows and then Pauline McLynn. And Graham we're back with you to begin, the subject now is a right hand man starting now.

GN: A right hand man is very useful if your own right hand is busy. Presumably that's where the expression comes from. I can only imagine the complicated scenario in which case this actually became...


NP: Gyles you challenged.

GB: I'm saving his career!

PMe: Are you sure you're in time?

NP: So what is your challenge within the rules of Just A Minute.

GB: My actual challenge was hesitation.

NP: No he didn't hesitate, he kept going, he giggled away but he still kept going. So you still have the subject Graham...

PMc: Tough luck Graham!

NP : And you have 46 seconds, a right hand man starting now.

GN: Everyone needs a right hand man for those moments when you are busy and you require a supporter...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Hesitation and sexism!

NP: No we'll give you the hesitation.

GB: Thank you.

NP: And you have the subject Gyles, 39 seconds, a right hand man starting now.

GB: When fighting a duel, a right hand man is what you need to be, because a left handed duellist inevitably is killed in the third act which is an awful way to go. I loathed it when I had right hand men or persons as I probably called them, because nowadays we are unisex and you cannot have assistance...


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: Speak for yourself! Deviation, I'm not unisex. Am I, don't look so doubtful Nicholas! I do not have, is this the one secret that nobody will tell me? I'm not unisex, am I?

NP: Well I can't speak from personal experience.

PMe: Can you not?

NP: No but I can know from observation that you are one sex. So 18 seconds Paul, a right hand man starting now.

PM: A right hand man is an invaluable person to help you through the career that is show business. My right hand man is Nicholas Parsons. He secretly gives me points before the show which I unwrap and eat in front of the other contestants...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: You can't unwrap and eat points in front of the other contestants. It's a flight of fantasy too far and also if I may say so deviation. Because to patronise you Nicholas, to imply that you are anybody's right hand man, when you are the leader. We are your little, we, we are your humble henchpeople. You see where you are sitting in the centre of the room? Your right hand man is on your right hand, he is called Paul. He is here as your right hand man. I am here as your love child.

NP: Could you put a sock in it for a minute? Gyles, five seconds, a right hand man starting now.

PMe: A right hand man is invaluable in the office because...


NP: Paul challenged.

PMe: Well he's slurring his words now, isn't he. I mean clearly the pills are having a side effect, you know. He's blaaaaaahhh all over the place. It's embarrassing really, isn't it.

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

PMe: Well deviation from the English language, not pronouncing his words, (in Kenneth Williams voice) not pronouncing his words, can't hear them, can't hear the diction, can't hear what he is saying!

GB: If I wasn't already on drugs, by the end of tonight I would be!

NP: Gyles you have another point, you have a right hand man and you have two seconds to go starting now.

PMc: Ohhhhh!


GB: A right hand man...

NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well there was hesitation there.

NP: Yes definitely. Paul, a right hand man, one second starting now.

PMe: Reggie Cray!


NP: Ah so Paul was speaking as the whistle went, Gyles got lots of points in the round. They're both equal, only one point separates the two of them. God it's been a most exhausting show this week! Pauline we'd like you to begin the next round, the complaints department, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

PMc: If you listen to my husband, he will tell you that the complaints department in our house is me. Now I'd like to dispute that. The complaints department is in fact me on this show. A complaints department is a very useful department to have in any walk of life. Because everybody's got complaints, don't they. Nobody's happy with their lot any more. They are complaining about well, viruses, swine flu, the recession. I'd like to think as complaints departments go, you know...


NP: Graham challenged.

PMc: Humans are very good at it.

NP: Graham you challenged.

GN: There was a slight hesitation, a whisper of a hesitation. I think, I was listening very carefully and I think I heard a hesitation.

NP: It was a hesitation.

PMc: That you should be the one to do it to me Graham! You know! Judas!

GN: I've lived here a long time!

PMc: Me too but I play in the paddy cart, you're not letting me off so...

NP: Graham you've got a correct challenge, take over the subject, the complaints department, 28 seconds starting now.

GN: You come home from work, and you work in a complaints...


GN: Oh I've said work twice already! How awful!

NP: Correct challenge Paul, the complaints department, and 25 seconds starting now.

PMe: It was on the deck of the Titanic that they located the complaint department officer...


NP: And Gyles challenged.

PMe: Was that your last act on this earth?

GB: Well there was a slight hesitation and there was also of course no complaint department on the deck of the Titanic. I know because I built it!

NP: So which challenge do you want?

PMe: That was going to be the first complaint! They didn't get there!

PMc: A flaw in the system!

NP: So we give you hesitation Gyles, 20 seconds, the complaints department starting now.

GB: It's the complaints department here at the BBC that I wish to complain about...


NP: Paul challenged.


NP: Yes.

GB: Of course, the old one!

PMe: Repetition of B.

GB: Yes! Indeed!

NP: So Paul spotted it first, he's played the game a bit more often than others, 16 seconds with you Paul, the complaints department starting now.

PMe: The British Broadcasting Corporation has a massive complaints department. It consists of 15 men and 14 women who answer every single department that comes in from the viewers at home as well...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: The British Broadcasting Corporation, the viewers. Let's hear about the radio. Let's hear about the wireless. Let's have some accuracy here! It is not a massive department...

NP: Gyles...

PMe: In a way I thought we were sort of paying tribute to the medium.

GB: All right! Get on with it!

NP: Paul there is one second left, the complaints department starting now.

PMe: Radio!


NP: So Paul you were saving your last flourish for the end and got the big round of applause. Let me give you the final situation. Pauline McLynn who has only played the game about twice before, came back and did extraordinarily well but did finish in fourth place. But it was a very brilliant fourth place. And Graham Norton who was in third place gained a lot of points. But his contribution was so delightful. Gyles who has never stopped throughout the whole show, he did finish actually in the end in second place. He was four points behind Paul Merton so we say this week Paul you are our winner! So it only remains for me to say thank you to these four fine players of this game, Paul Merton, Gyles Brandreth, Pauline McLynn and Graham Norton. I thank Sarah Sharpe who has helped me with the score, and blown her whistle so elegantly. We are grateful to our producer Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And we are grateful to this lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre who cheered us on our way. So from our audience, and from me, Nicholas Parsons, thank you and of course from the panel. And tune in again the next time we play Just A Minute! Yes!