starring PAUL MERTON, SUE PERKINS, PAUL SINHA and MIKE McSHANE, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 24 August 2009)

NOTE: Paul Sinha's first appearance.

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 huge pleasure to welcome our many listeners in this country, and around the world. But also to welcome to the programme this week four exciting, talented and humorous individuals who are going to play Just A Minute. And they are, seated on my right, Paul Merton and beside him Mike McShane. And seated on my left, Paul Sinha and at the other end, Sue Perkins. Will you please welcome all four of them! And as usual I am going to ask them to speak on a subject that I will give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Beside me sits Sarah Sharpe, who is going to help me with the score, she will blow a whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the Pleasance Grand at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. And we have a very hyped-up excited Festival Fringe audience here, ready to get us going. So let us start the show with Paul Merton. Paul, oh that's an interesting subject for starters, what I wear in bed. Can you tell us something about that subject, in this game, starting now.



NP: And Sue you've challenged immediately.

SUE PERKINS: It was beautiful and then there was a hesitation.

NP: Well he got his laugh and then he thought, well, I'll retire on that.

SP: He savoured it.

NP: You've got a correct challenge, you get a point for that and you've got 58 seconds, you tell us now on what I wear in bed starting now.

SP: Hessian pyjamas which are bracing and also provide a natural exfolliant when one is trying to slough skin off one's back. I have repeated however the word one, but in its plural sense so thankfully no-one can buzz in. I...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: Was it repetition of hessian? Was it not hessian?

NP: No there wasn't hessian.

PM: Wasn't there?

NP: It was one but nobody picked it up.

PM: Oh.

NP: It's too late now.

PM: Is it?

NP: So it's an incorrect challenge.

PM: Oh.

NP: So Sue you have another incorrect challenge and you have 42 seconds starting now, what I wear in bed.

SP: Wirewool plus-fours are also excellent if you wish to take some of the excess layers off when kipping. Usually when I hit...


NP: Paul Sinha has challenged.

PAUL SINHA: That sounded suspiciously like a hesitation.

NP: No, darling boy, it wasn't. She did hesitate before but you missed it.

PS: Er!

NP: No I think it was too infinitesimal to be called within the rules of Just A Minute. I know it's your first time and I'd love to lean over backwards and bring you in, but I think...


NP: We're up at the Festival Fringe, they pick up every innuendo possible, right! So Paul, I'm sorry, I can't give it to you...

PS: Er is not a hesitation?

NP: Well there wasn't a definite er there. So we're going to give the benefit of the bout to Sue, benefit of the doubt, the benefit of the doubt to Sue and she has still 35 seconds starting now.

SP: A gorse waistcoat. Hard to get, but if you look around heathery moor land you might find some with the suitable bite ah to give you a really restful...


NP: Right so Paul Sinha...

PS: Well that was...

NP: A definite er, a definite hesitation.

PS: Shall we go for hesitation then? Yes!

NP: No we don't go for hesitation, you've got a hesitation, don't go for anything else, that wouldn't work. So 27 seconds, what I wear in bed starting now.

PS: Ah I have been...


PS: I thought I'd let somebody in!

NP: What happened then?

PS: I hadn't buzzed for the last one, you gave it to me anyway so I thought I'd let somebody else in. I was just being sporting!

NP: No, Sue you challenged, why?

SP: There was a hesitation, there was an er.

NP: Oh...

SP: I know to err is human but...

NP: It's your first time I know Paul, so it is difficult. But there we are, I'm afraid Sue's got in again, with 26 seconds, what I wear in bed, Sue starting now.

SP: I like to wear my sailor suit or a pirate's outfit which is strange but I find the eyepatch really consoles me, especially on long sleepless flights. People on Virgin Atlantic recently commented on my piratical eyewear and were frightened, possibly because it is a secure environment and no-one wants someone running with a cutlass through what essentially was an economy cabin. Ah that is a long story that I can't onviously say now...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Was there an um there?

NP: There was an um earlier on.

PM: Yes.

NP: But er there was an actual er actually earlier on.

PM: Was there?

NP: Yes so I'll give it to you because it was a hesitation.

PM: Okay.

NP: Oh gosh you've got in with three seconds to go Paul.


PM: I share your sadness!

NP: Three seconds Paul on what I wear in bed starting now.

PM: Given the choice I will put perfume behind...


NP: Well at the end of the first round, you won't be surprised to hear that Sue Perkins has got quite a lot of points, because she was always being interrupted. Paul Merton has got two, Paul Sinha has got one. Mike is yet to score but Mike we want you to begin the next round. And the subject, I don't know whether this is your scene or anything but it's an interesting subject, hugging trees. Can you tell us something about hugging trees in Just A Minute starting now.

MIKE McSHANE: I've been called many things in my life, an angry liberal, a big hippy. But I am most of all a tree hugger. I didn't believe it myself when I was younger but recently my wife had found a photo of, of young Mike McShane...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: A slight hesitation?

NP: That was a hesitation yes, I'm sorry Mike. So Sue's in again on the hesitation trail, 45 seconds with you Sue, hugging trees.

SP: By all means hug a tree, don't expect anything in return. They're not givers in relationships, they just stand there all barky and just do nothing. I've hugged long and hard and fast. An ash, birch, lime, anything you can think of. But nothing comes it back. And I've said that already but no-one is ever going to stop me...


SP: Unless I say it again and again.

PM: Repetition.

NP: Yes that's right and you have, Paul, 30 seconds on hugging tress starting now.

PM: It's the fortieth anniversary of the Woodstock Pop Festival and it's seen by many people as one of the great moments in the history of the hippie. Tree hugging was evident there in great force. You would see people wandering towards a mighty oak and think to themselves I'm going to put my arms around that tree and feel its essential woodiness flowing into my veins. We will become one with the universe! Oh is that the time? And then I would walk through parks, and I saw...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's creeping up on our leader Sue Perkins. And Paul Sinha, we'd like you to begin the next round. The subject is quiz shows. I don't know whether this is something that you're interested in or not but will you please talk about the subject in this game starting now.

PS: More than interested, I am obsessed with quiz shows. Ever since the age of eight when I first heard the words coming out of my TV screen "live from Norwich, it's the quiz of the week"! It wasn't just the magical theme tune, or the wonderful contestants. It was the presenter, whose name I forget! What a charismatic dandy he was, with all the alpha male authority of Larry Grayson on The Generation Game. He was something quite to behold. And Sale Of The Century, what a... title!


NP: Ah yeah it was natural to go back to it, wasn't it.

PS: It was a wonderful show!

NP: Yeah well anyway Paul you challenged first.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation, oh no! Oh yes he hesitated after he had repeated himself.

PM: Yes.

NP: Well listened, well listened Paul, 29 seconds, quiz shows starting now.

PM: They are fun to watch but not much joy to host. I did that once for a TV pilot of a quiz show and I didn't enjoy it that much, I've said enjoy haven't I. But what I really...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Ah repetition of enjoy.

NP: Yes that's right yes, 20 seconds are available Sue, you tell us something about quiz shows starting now.

SP: I like Mastermind, it's basic, it says I'll ask you stuff, you won't know it, you'll feel an idiot. That's what a quiz show is, the basest form of human torture. Even the theme tune which is called Advancing Menace was originally developed by the Germans in the 1930s as part of their torture slash interrogation techniques where they forced people...


NP: So Sue Perkins was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point and has slightly increased her lead at the end of that round over Paul Merton and Paul Sinha and Mike McShane in that order. Sue it's your turn to begin and the subject now is ghost writers. Tell us something about those creatures or those people in this game starting now.

SP: If you're going to choose a ghost to write a book for you, make sure it's not a headless one as they are rubbish with word processing. I did it to my cost. And to be honest they can type like billy-oh, but get them to return back to you what they've printed and they can't see it. So useless. Jacob Marley was a great ghost writer, as was Anne Boleyn who I believe Jordan used to scribe her latest autobiography. It's too florid, she said...


NP: Mike you challenged.

MM: I did? Did I?

NP: Your light came on.

MM: I guess I was, I just I thumbed it.

NP: You thumbed it, you got, you got twitchy.

MM: It was a ghost challenge!

NP: All right Mike, well we give you a bonus point because we enjoyed what you said. But Sue was interrupted so she gets a point for that and she still has ghost writers and there are 38 seconds starting now.

SP: It's a sad state of publishing where people like Kerry Katona can't even get out of bed to write the story of the last three years of their life, as if that's an interesting read. I think we can boil it down to a few well-known narcotics and a bottle of Thunderbird. However she chooses to get people who she has no connection with, anonymous figures in the literary underworld put pen to paper on her behalf. Possibly coming round to see her semi-dressed in her boudoir...


NP: Mike challenged.

MM: Repetition, her, within the sentence.

NP: Yes there were more than one her there.

MM: But close enough together.

NP: We might let one or two go, but there were three there.

SP: I'm all about the hers. Yeah.

NP: So Mike a correct challenge, it's ghost writers, and you have 14 seconds starting now.

MM: Many people have found that ghost writing is a way to make a profitable living in Hollywood when they're not doing script writing. I have a friend of mine who ghost writes for a number of people. But he does...


NP: Paul Sinha challenged.

PS: A bit harsh but I thought there was a hesitation there.

NP: No there definitely wasn't a hesitation. I mean I'd love to bring you in because it's your first time, but no. It's, Mike hasn't played the game very much either. But it's three seconds Mike, so keep going for three seconds on ghost writers starting now.

MM: Which makes ghost writing an incredibly...


NP: Mike McShane was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now in third place behind Paul Merton, and a little bit more behind Sue Perkins. Paul Sinha's trailing a little. And Paul we're back with you to begin and the subject is, oh this is good, a Scottish delicacy. Sixty seconds on that subject up here in Scotland starting now.

PM: Near here I am staying here in Edinburgh is a beautiful shop that sells the most delightful sausages. I won't mention it by name, as that would be advertising on the British Broadcasting Corporation. But the sausage they sell there is absolutely fantastic. The secret is they use real meat and it is absolutely wonderful. The other delicacy I think of as well is the malt whisky. There are many varieties of that particular alcoholic drink, many of them very popular...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of many?

NP: Yes. There were many, too many manys right. Well listened Sue, you're in there with 37 seconds on a Scottish delicacy starting now.

SP: The deep fried Mars Bar is a thing of calorific beauty. Imagine fishy batter, then coated around one of your favourite pieces of confectionery. Mmmmmm I'm getting herring and chocolate, delicious! What's that what you say? Only 40,000 times my daily recommended dose of saturated fat? I'll have another! Batter a pizza, I'm feeling hungry! Walking along...


NP: Paul challenged.

PS: That was a hesitation.

NP: That was a hesitation. She goes so fast that her hesitations are more pronounced because she was running out of breath, poor darling! Anyeway you've got in there Paul, definite hesitation, 17 seconds, tell us something about a Scottish delicacy starting now.

PS: A Scottish delicacy is one of the many euphemisms used worldwide for that most morish of Scottish delicacies, heroin. There is...


NP: Sue challenged. You haven't won any friends in this audience!

SP: Well yeah I mean hesitation and also first person to mention heroin on Radio Four! So well done, um, a long kept secret here.

NP: Sue you've got in with seven seconds to go, a Scottish delicacy starting now.

SP: Scotch eggs, so good, they named them once. There it is, sausage meat wrapped around a perfectly formed egg. Again...


NP: So Sue Perkins was again speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, has slightly increased her lead. And we are back with you Mike, would you start the next round. The subject is dragons, you had hugging trees before, you got some weird subjects for you, 60 seconds starting now.

MM: As a child...


NP: Ah Mike, Paul.

PM: It was a bit of a hesitation.

NP: A long hesitation.

MM: Oh!

NP: As soon as I say....


NP: No I'm going to be generous and Paul's a very generous player of this game. I'm sure Paul will let him have this one. But let me say to you Paul, I always...

MM: Say now.

NP: Yeah! As I take a breath, start to go, and then I say now. And then go.

MM: Yeah.

NP: Take a breath as my finger goes up and then on the now, go! For our listeners, I should explain, Mike has now got up, standing ready to deliver things from a standing position. Sit down if you would, it'll be better for the microphone. Paul, you're very generous to let it go because Mike hasn't played it so often. So the benefit of the doubt to you, not an incorrect challenge, because you didn't start, did you? So you have 58 and a half seconds, one and a half seconds of breath you took then.

MM: It's the atmosphere!

NP: Right! No it isn't, it's your natural delivery so try and ignore it and go in a different route. So are you ready Mike, 58 and a half seconds, the subject is dragons and you start now.

MM: In mythology I was...


PM: Deviation.

NP: Why?

PM: He didn't hesitate!

NP: Give Paul Merton a bonus point for what he said was delightful. But Mike we won't penalise you, we'll let you keep the subject and you've got 57 seconds now, dragons starting now.

MM: Many stories were told using dragons in mythology. One of my favourite tales is The Never Ending Story which is an original...


NP: Paul Sinha has challenged.

PS: That's two uses of the word story.

NP: Story, repetition of story. Yes so Paul you're in on dragons with 49 seconds starting now.

PS: Dragons are known by scientists as a Lazarus Taxor in that they used to be extinct but they now exist. The fire breathing creatures that were wiped out by a comet many years ago have been now replaced...


PS: I know!

NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of now.

NP: Yes, right Sue, 37 seconds Sue on dragons starting now.

SP: The mission statement of dragons is simple. Breathe fire, get slain! That's all they do. You need to go on a quest and find one, spear it through the head, face, eye, neck, however it appears to you, and Bob's your uncle. You return home to your village, possibly wearing its face as some kind of gaudy trophy...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of face.

NP: Yes indeed there was. So Paul you've got in with 21 seconds to go on dragons starting now.

PM: (in posh voice) As has been said by other members of the panel, the dragon is very much a mythical creature and one will search for it in vain because it no longer walks the earth, if indeed it ever did. I remember as a child my mother saying to me, "beware of the dragons that live in North London, it is a horrible place full of grotesque ogres..."


NP: So Paul Merton was then, that was Paul Merton speaking then, by the way, I don't know whether you thought it was somebody else.

MM: That was the best Alec Guinness on rohypnol I have ever heard!

NP: Yes it's one of his better impersonations, Alec Guinness, right. So Alec Guinness gets the point, no, Paul Merton gets the point for speaking as the whistle went, he's now still in second place behind Sue Perkins, and then it's Mike McShane and Paul Sinha in that order. Paul Sinha will you take, begin the next round. Oh I know why this has been chosen for you, how to talk to your GP. Will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PS: It should be pointed out that the only reason I'm here is in case Nicholas Parsons is an accident and a qualified GP is on hand! How to talk to your GP is a Government information package basically produced so that the people can stop doctors...


NP: Oh Sue challenged.

SP: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation, I mean perhaps some of the listeners don't know, but Paul Sinha, when he's not working up here at the Festival, is also a qualified doctor and used to have his own practice. That's why you made that remark. It didn't get quite such a big reaction as it deserved. Because if they had known that you were, you were a GP once, um, I don't know why I'm, I don't think I'll pursue that any further. Sue you had a correct challenge so you have the subject, 46 seconds, how to talk to your GP starting now.

SP: I like to talk to my GP in Mexican while sneezing and I find I get an immediate response. Suddenly a disinterested man is...


NP: Paul you've challenged.

PS: There was a big laugh, hesitation.

NP: Yes.

SP: I can't, I will, okay!

NP: So Paul you got in again with 40 seconds on how to talk to your GP starting now.

PS: How to talk to your GP is a Government information...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: We had Government before.

NP: You did have Government before yes.

PS: I'm sorry, it's my first show, I didn't realise the rules.

NP: You, when you get the subject back, you can't repeat what you said previously. It's very difficult isn't it, I know, but don't worry.

SP: I know that to my cost with the what I wear in bed round.

NP: So Paul Merton you have 38 seconds, how to talk to your GP starting now.

PM: Most doctors are very thick. They'll admit it themselves if you weren't looking, so the best way to talk to them is to shout very loudly in a very aggressive way...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Very, repetition of very.

NP: Yes very loudly, two verys...

PS: Now who is stupid?

PM: Did you take my general condemnation of all GPs as a personal insult towards yourself?

PS: Well yes but I did agree with you, to be fair!

NP: No they're a mixed bunch aren't they GPs, right...

PM: Yes they are.

NP: Thirty-one seconds, Sue you challenged, wasn't it. How to talk to your GP starting now.

SP: Paracetimol is the answer to any question presented to a GP involving a medical condition, it doesn't...


NP: Paul challenged.

PS: Deviation, it's not true, ibryprophene as well!

NP: Specialised knowledge gets you the point! Right...

SP: Can I just say my GP is in West Cornwall and they haven't heard of ibryprophene there. As far as they're concerned, it's the devil's work!

NP: Well said Sue, lovely. Paul Sinha you've got the subject and you've got 25 seconds, how to talk to your GP starting now.

PS: The problem is GPs are leaving the profession to go into show biz. Look at Doctor Who who left his job as a practitioner on the planet Gallifrey as soon as Russell T Davies waved his chequebook at him. So we need to stop GPs leaving the profession. The problem...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Leaving, repetition of leaving.

NP: Oh yes you have too much leaving there. Right so Sue you listened like a lynx, and you've got in... I don't know why, it's just a word that came out, listening and lynx...

SP: They're well-known for their listening, the lynx.

NP: I don't think it was worthy of the laugh you gave me, but I'm most grateful. Anyway how to talk to your GP, Sue, 12 seconds starting now.

SP: Through a foghorn is excellent. They find it odd if you turn up and usually prescribe anti-depressant medication or a long stay at the Priory which is what happened to me. Suddenly I found myself in a very tight waistcoat with buckles round the back, rocking to myself and pretending...


NP: Right so Sue was again speaking as the whistle went, has increased her lead over Paul Merton, Paul Sinha and Mike McShane in that order. And there's a lovely little joke about this fellow that goes to the doctor, it's how GPs talk to them. And he says "I'm sorry I have to tell you you're obese." He said "how dare you, I want a second opinion". He said "well you're also fat!


NP: No I'm sorry, I'll tell the joke again. I've never told the joke before, it suddenly came to me! So he went to the doctor and the doctor said "I've got to tell you, you are obese".

PM: Yes?

NP: And he said "that's disgraceful, I want a second opinion."

PM: Yes.

NP: And he said "you're also ugly!" So that's two versions and you appreciated both of them. Sue we're back with you to begin, the subject is texting and there are 60 seconds as usual starting now.

SP: Texting is the scourge of people who have fat fingers. Look at them with their porky digits stumbling over useless words they may need to communicate to kith and kin. I don't like texting much, simply because I am old. And just as you slice a tree in half, and see how many rings it has, so you can tell how aged somebody is by the speed at which they send messages. SMS texts, how I loathe it, especially as one reduces the...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of S.

NP: Yes that's right, SMS. That was correct, I mean you repeated, you repeated S.

SP: Yes I'm...

NP: And that's within the rules of the game.

SP: Yes.

NP: And so Paul, well done, 37 seconds on texting starting now.

PM: One of the first important rules they teach you at school about reading the English language is being devoted to the text. Look at the undertow, the subgenres within the piece of mighty prose writing. And soon you realise that the words that come towards you off the page and into your brain create a marvellous world where you can sometimes escape. If you are living a rather boring life somewhere you can look at the books of PG Wodehouse and an whole area has been completely put in front of you. Country houses, funny butlers, dim aristocrats, it's just like the House of Commons! And...


NP: So Paul took the subject with great style and aplomb, went right up to when the whistle blew and gained that extra point for doing so. And gave great value in the process, and he's still trailing Sue Perkins a little. And Paul Sinha and Mike McShane are equal in third place. You couldn't really care less but I thought I'd give you the situation. And we are moving into the final round.


NP: Oh you are lovely! Paul Merton we are back with you to begin and the subject is the wordt night of my life. Will you tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PM: Undoubtedly the worst night of my life was here at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987. I went out and played football with a bunch of comedians in the meadows. Fell over, broke my leg, was taken to the hospital, where two or three days later I developed a blood clot in the lung. I also attached myself to the disease Hepatitis A which was great fun. So as I lay in that particular place...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Ah slight hesitation.

NP: That was hesitation. He was trying to think of another word for hospital and it didn't come up. So you've got in with 38 seconds Sue on the worst night of my life starting now.

SP: The worst night of my life was last night as I listened to seagulls raiding a biffer bin outside my hotel...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: They happen to be a great band! Their first album was fantastic!

NP: Yes...

SP: They let themselves down acoustically.

NP: I'm afraid Paul, I've never heard of the Seagulls.

PM: Oh well that's it then, isn't it!

NP: No but we enjoyed your interruption, give him a bonus point for that. Sue was interrupted, so she gets a point and continues with 34 seconds, the worst night of my life starting now.

SP: Equally it was watching Cliff Richard play the part of Heathcliff in the aforementioned musical. I'd imagined on reading Wuthering Heights a brutish wolfish man who comes across this young engenue and taunts her and taints her, thus realising the potency of romantic love. With Cliff however, whose name I have mentioned twice...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of Cliff.

NP: Yes, we had too much of Cliff there.

SP: You can never have too much of Cliff!

NP: Oh that was a lovely cue for you wasn't it Sue. You took it up and ran with it. But Paul you had a correct challenge, 18 seconds, the worst night of my life starting now.

PM: And I gave a blood test and they found that my Cliff Richard levels were impossibly high. More than any individual could stand, apart from the great singer himself. So as I look around this audience, I think about the worst night of my life and I realise that has passed, it is gone. Now it is a different...


NP: Well let me give you the final score then. Mike McShane who hasn't played the game, he only played it once before, did very well. He didn't get started very quickly on occasions, slipped up there. He finished in quite a strong fourth place. But in this show it's the contribution, it's not the points. Paul Sinha who has never played the game before, finished up in a very strong third place with quite a lot of points. Paul Merton who has played the game a lot finished up in an excellent second place. And Sue Perkins, who has played the game many times as well has got a record number of points. And so today we say Sue you are our winner! So it only remains for me to say thank you to these four delightful players of the game, Paul Merton, Mike McShane, Paul Sinha and Sue Perkins. I also thank Sarah Sharpe who has kept the score so magnificently, blown her whistle with great aplomb. We thank our audience here. We thank our producer Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this game. And we do, we are deeply indebted to this audience who have cheered us on our way. We hope you have enjoyed it, we hope the listeners have enjoyed it, and we hope you will all tune in again the next time we play Just A Minute! Yes!