starring PAUL MERTON, TONY HAWKS, SHEILA HANCOCK and ROSS NOBLE, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 16 August 2010)

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 not only in this country but throughout the world. But to welcome to the programme this week four exciting, talented and exuberant players of this game. And they are, seated on my left Ross Noble and Tony Hawks. And seated on my right, Paul Merton and Sheila Hancock. Please welcome all four of them! And as usual I am going to ask them to try and speak if they can on a subject I will give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Beside me sits Sarah Sharpe, she 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 Radio Theatre, in the heart of that magnificent edifice which is called Broadcasting House. And we are going to begin the show this week with Ross Noble. Women in comedy is the subject, you have 60 seconds as usual...


ROSS NOBLE: What? What? I haven't even spoken and people go "oh this is going to be a tirade of sexism!"

NP: Well it's going to be...

RN: There's going to be a lot of pressure on me then, isn't there.

NP: Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

RN: Women In Comedy was the sequel to the film Women In Love. It didn't really work as a concept. Instead of high romance, carpets in front of roaring fires, it was ladies going wahh wahhh!


NP: Sheila you've challenged.

SHEILA HANCOCK: I don't think there was a carpet involved in that scene, I think it was lino. Alan Bates, I remember it, I can see it clearly, it was lino.

PAUL MERTON: You can see the lino.

SH: I can see the lino.

NP: Sheila I think you're right, I saw the film as well. And I think...

PM: You, you auditioned for it, didn't you.

RN: (laughs) He, he played...

PM: As the lino!

RN: He played the lino!

NP: I offered to.

PM: You offered to, did you?

NP: But I wasn't smooth enough!

PM: Oh really? I find that hard to believe.

NP: There we are. So no, I think they were cavorting on the lino. Sheila you have a correct challenge, a point for that of course, you have 46 seconds, tell us something about women in comedy starting now.

SH: Well many years ago I used to do series like Mister Digby Darling and things like er...


NP: Tony challenged.

TONY HAWKS: Well I think it was a slight hesitation.

SH: Yes.

TH: Which we could have let go but I haven't said anything yet.

SH: I know.

TH: So I had to be mean, sorry.

NP: So you get in first, no no, it was a definite hesitation. So Tony you have a correct challenge, you have a point, you have 40 seconds, women in comedy starting now.

TH: I was always a terrific fan of Hattie Jacques with Eric Sykes in those wonderful old programmes on the BC with the other letter in the middle in between which sometimes you say, people do pick you up on it, I can tell you, extraordinary. She was a big woman, let's face it. But the comedy would burst out of her. She would come into the kitchen and say hello. She played brother of the person...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well she didn't play his brother! That would have been... that was a bit of an insult really for Hattie Jacques! She was a very skilled actress but I don't think...

NP: No no no...

PM: ... she would be convincing as Eric Sykes' brother.

NP: I think she was sufficiently feminine for us to know that she was Eric Sykes' sister.

PM: Yeah.

NP: So Paul, a correct challenge, another point to you, 18 seconds still available, women in comedy starting now.

PM: There has always been very powerful women in comedy. Today you have Victoria Wood. And if you go back to the days of the Music hall, somebody like Marie Lloyd was the biggest star of her particular generation. So there is...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Wasn't it Vesta Tilly?

NP: No no, Marie Lloyd, Vesta Tilly, they were all big stars.

RN: Yeah.

NP: Who can say? According to Paul, she was the biggest star of her generation.

RN: Oh Vesta Tilly dressed as a man so strictly speaking she wasn't a woman. I take it back!

PM: I've learnt something here! And I don't know what it is!

NP: So incorrect challenge Paul, another point to you, seven seconds still available, women in comedy starting now.

PM: French and Saunders are a modern day version of Gert and Daisy, who were actually sisters of Jack Warner who appeared as Dixon of Dock Green. Women...


NP: So Paul got that extra point for speaking when the whistle went, and other points in the round. Has moved forward, he's now in the lead, one ahead of Ross Noble. Sheila we'd like you to begin the next round. The subject, the French. We all have definite opinions about the French, but will you tell us something about yours in this game starting now.

SH: Well I am a complete Francophile, I adore the French. Their Gauleries, their derries, their wine. I was a child when I first went to France, 14 in fact. And I had my first kiss there, I ate frog's legs, I drank pinot. It was the most uplifting, exciting, glamorous time of my life. And I have a home there now and I can't wait to go there next Saturday. Because nobody in France uses a mobile phone...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Repetition of France.

NP: Yes.

SH: Oh yes!

NP: The subject is the French, unfortunately France...

SH: He's awfully sharp!

RN: Sorry. Normally I'm lost in a world of my own! I'm having an off night!

SH: They used to say that long hair saps your strength, but obviously not, in your case.

RN: I shave my back!

NP: Ross another point to you for a correct challenge, and you have the subject of the French and there are 31 seconds starting now.

RN: The French are very good at unusual breads. The croissant looks a little bit like a crab...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Well technically the croissant isn't a bread, it is a pastry.

NP: It is a pastry yes.

TH: Yeah.

NP: Definitely not a bread.

RN: Why is it in the bread aisle in Tesco's?

TH: I think that's because Tesco's...


TH: No no no...

SH: It's not, however in Waitrose.

TH: Yes yes. It's not run by, it's not Monsieur Tesco, is it. He doesn't know what he's doing!

RN: (in French accent) Le Tesco.

NP: No I mean, I am sure you're right Tony so I give you the benefit of the doubt anyway and 25 seconds, you tell us something about the French starting now.

TH: (speaks in French)


SH: Well he's not really speaking French. He's just mumbling isn't he. So it's deviation.

NP: I am closest to him here, and he was actually speaking French words.

SH: Was he? The odd French word, but a lot of it was...

NP: It was gibberish like... (speaks in French)

SH: Yeah well that's not French!

PM: Oh my God, there's two of them!

TH: Give me another chance Sheila, and I'll prove...

NP: An incorrect challenge Tony, another point to you. The French and 22 seconds starting now.

TH: Sheila (speaks in French)...


NP: Paul challenged. Paul you challenged.

PM: Well I can't help feeling that I'm at a disadvantage here! Surely it's against the spirit of the game. I mean I don't understand a word of French, well I don't really which is a shame, a bad education um, and a lack of interest on my behalf. But I think speaking in French is deviation from the way the game is normally played.

NP: Actually there is nothing in the rules which were laid down by Ian Messiter many years ago which say that you can't go into a foreign language.

PM: Okay, Morse code next then, is it!

RN: Semaphore.

NP: Yeah.

RN: Semaphore.

TH: Look I...

PM: Repetition of flag in right hand!

RN: Bring it on! Bring it on!

NP: Right so Tony I am giving you the benefit of the doubt.

TH: Thank you.

NP: But please cut back on the French.

TH: Yes.

NP: Otherwise it's going to make my life impossible. Eighteen seconds starting now.

TH: I'm like Sheila in many ways. The French I adore. Because of their ability to make pastries like croissant which stand sometimes in the aisle along with the bread but doesn't bother...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: It doesn't stand, it's a very flat pastry! You clearly don't know anything about pastries!

PM: And copying everything that Ross just said.

NP: Yeah that's right.

PM: You're using his material!

NP: Benefit of the doubt on this occasion to you Ross because they don't stand. I think they lay flat. So seven seconds, the French with you starting now.

RN: Imagine my surprise when I tried to take some baguettes and build them into a super structure! Zut galore!


NP: So Ross with points in that round including one for speaking as the whistle went has leapt forward. He's now ahead of Paul Merton and then Tony Hawks. No, Paul and Tony are equal and then Sheila behind them. And Tony we'd like you to begin the next round. My local. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

TH: I've noticed that there is a Sainsbury's near where I live that's started calling itself My Local. Which is alarming because I go in there, there's no pool tables. I do throw darts around the place mainly so that I can get to the croissant before everybody else. Laying flat as they are on the table in the aisle there. I have a pub which is very very close to where I.... very very very close...


TH: They hadn't noticed, had they.

NP: But Paul noticed so...

PM: Repetition of very.

NP: Very, yes Paul, correct challenge, 35 seconds, my local starting now.

PM: My local pub is one of those themed pubs...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Was there a slight hesitation?

NP: I think there was, yes.

RN: But the theme of the pub is hesitation.

PM: Yeah.

NP: So you have got the subject back very rapidly, 31 seconds Tony, my local starting now.

TH: I will go in, sit down, have a pint of mild, and chat with the other locals in there...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: Was that a hesitation?

NP: Yes it was, definitely. Sheila you're in on my local, 26 seconds...

SH: All right.

NP: ... starting now.

SH: Well my local used to be downstairs, because my dad worked in a pub, and we lived in the flat above. So down below was a public bar...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Repetition of down.

NP: Of what?

SH: Downstairs before.

NP: Downstairs.

SH: Downstairs and down.

NP: Now down below.

RN: Hesitation then!

SH: I'm beginning to dislike you!

RN: Beginning?

NP: No no Ross, well tried. But there are 18 seconds Sheila, my local starting now.

SH: A public bar, a ladies' bar, a saloon...


SH: Oh! Bar! Oh come on! Pull yourself together!

NP: Paul you challenged first.

PM: Bar.

SH: Yeah.

NP: Yes, too many bars.

SH: Yeah.

NP: There were a lot of bars in your pub, I'm sure. But...

SH: There were!

NP: But we can't mention it too often in Just A Minute. So Paul, my local is back with you, 14 seconds starting now.

PM: There are many strange characters who have been going to that local for many years. There's old...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Ah repetition of many.

SH: Many strange characters.

TH: Many strangers who had been going to the pub for many years.

PM: Oh yes yes.

NP: So easy to slip by, but Tony you listened well, nine seconds now for you on my local starting now.

TH: I once had a local called the Fawcett Inn. And I used to go in there and try to do exactly that. But I was expelled as...


NP: So what's the situation at the end of that round? Well Tony got some points including one for speaking as the whistle went. He's equal with Ross Noble in the lead. They're one ahead of Paul Merton, and they're three or four ahead of Sheila Hancock. And Ross we'd like you to begin the next round and the subject I'm sure it's been chosen for you as I know your pleasure in motorcycles, and that's the subject. Tell us something about motorcycles in this game starting now.

RN: I travelled in this evening on my motorcycle, through London's fashionable West End. I did make the mistake however of not zipping my trousers to the top half of my garments. And as the rain started to come down, it ran down the back of my posterior...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of down.

NP: Down yes.

RN: I'll give you that.

NP: Forty-four seconds Paul, tell us something about motorcycles starting now.

PM: Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. He jumped on a motorcycle, jumped over the great fence and he got away. He went all the way to Switzerland and what a wonderful place that is...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: Way. Two ways.

PM: Yes.

NP: Two ways.

PM: Oh.

NP: Sheila, well listened, 38 seconds, you tell us something about motorcycles starting now.

SH: I don't think it categorises as a motorcycle, but I did have a Lambretta in the 60s which was considered a very trendy thing to do. And I remember giving Kenneth Williams a ride...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: You're the one! Ahhhh, theeeee, ahhhhh, I've turned into Kenneth Williams now! Ah remember, repetition of remember.

SH: Was there?

NP: Oh yes, you did it at the beginning and I remember giving Kenneth Williams a ride. Yes and he used to tell lovely stories, he'd go round, shouting out obscenities all along the West End...

SH: Yes.

NP: Yes.

RN: You can have it if you want, I'd quite like to hear the rest of the Kenneth Williams story.

SH: No no no! You go on.

NP: Come on, 30 seconds, back with you on your topic Ross, motorcycles starting now.

RN: Only the other day I took a trip across to Dunkirk where there is in fact a motocross track made out of the finest quality French sand. We spent the whole day over there riding our motorcycles in deep gravelly type substances which really was interesting. Because there was no gravel around at the time...


NP: Ah...

RN: Gravelly and gravel! Come on!

NP: Tony, your challenge?

TH: Ah no, he did repeat no, though.

NP: No he didn't, he said gravel and gravelly.

TH: Yes.

NP: So he didn't actually repeat anything.

TH: No.

NP: So that was your challenge?

TH: I might pick him up on it being interesting, but it's too late now.

NP: So Ross, the subject is still with you, nine seconds, motorcycles starting now.

RN: The Isle of Man, TT...


NP: It's ah...

RN: It's all one thing! It's all one thing!

PM: Too much T.

NP: Paul, you got in first, yes. Motorcycles with you now Paul, seven seconds starting now.

PM: The only time I was on the back of a motorcycle, I was being driven by Bob Hunkin who I worked with at Tooting Employment Office. He said "grab me around the waist and everything..."


NP: Right so an interesting situation. Paul Merton and Ross Noble are now equal in the lead, two or three ahead of Tony Hawks, and four or five ahead of Sheila Hancock. Tony we'd like you to begin the next round, I don't know why they'd like you to begin the next round because the subject is over the hill. And you're one of the younger members here, aren't you.

TH: Oh I'm only 22.

NP: Not as young as that, Tony.

TH: I love radio!

NP: Anyway, 60 seconds, over the hill starting now.

TH: We live in a society that tends to damn people when they're over, perhaps 50...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Hesitation.

NP: No I don't think so. No no no, definitely not.

TH: He doesn't think so.

NP: It is the benefit of the doubt, I'll make sure it is redressed some time later on. Fifty seconds, over the hill, Tony starting now.

TH: Just think of all the wisdom you accrue as you go through this life. And it is so valuable to pass on perhaps to the younger people in society who may need to benefit from it. And yet sometimes people say you're over the hill, we don't want you to work...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Did we have people twice?

NP: Yeah we did have people twice, yes.

TH: Shame because it was a good speech!

PM: Yeah! Excellent.

NP: And you listened well, 35 seconds Paul, over the hill starting now.

PM: In The Magical Mystery Tour, Paul McCartney wrote a specific song called Fool On The Hill. And the video of that particular tune was shown within the...


NP: Sheila's challenged.

SH: Were there two particulars? No?

NP: No no, there wasn't a particular....

SH: It wasn't a particular song on a particular hill? No?

PM: No I don't know.

SH: You get an extra point now.

PM: Yeah true.

NP: No benefit of the doubt, but it's definite.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Right so you have a point, 28 seconds, over the hill, Paul starting now.

PM: When I lived in West Norwood, over the hill was the local crematorium. And sometimes when you saw the smoke reaching up towards the atmosphere, you thought to yourself there goes Mrs Hoggins from number 72. But actually it wasn't her, it was somebody burning some rubbish around the back. So you realised when you saw her shopping the next day that she was absolutely fine...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Ah saw, repetition of saw.

NP: Saw, yeah you saw the smoke going up.

PM: Yeah.

NP: And then you saw Mrs Hoggins. So Ross you got in with eight seconds to go on over the hill starting now.

RN: It's physically impossible for a mole to be over the hill. They can reach the end of their careers, but they simply dig...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Moles don't have careers.

RN: Oh fair does! First it's the pastries and then it's the moles!

TH: You show me a picture of a mole in a tie, going into an office, and you can have the point.

RN: There!

TH: He's drawn a picture of a mole with a tie.

RN: And there I'm going to write office. Right, I'll have it back!

TH: Well actually, given that he's drawn a picture of a mole with a tie on, going to an office, I withdraw my challenge!

NP: No you don't! Grammatically speaking, you are correct.

RN: That's how it works! You don't like...

NP: No I don't think that...

TH: Basically, basically drawing pictures is not good enough on a radio show.

SH: They dig tunnels, Tony, they dig tunnels.

TH: They dig tunnels but they're not paid for it, it's not a career.

NP: No.

TH: They don't think I'm going to dig a really big tunnel...

PM: Why do they have to be paid for it? Can't they just do it for the love of it?

SH: Exactly! Exactly!

TH: Well they...

SH: It's all...

NP: Ross a mole may have a life, but he doesn't have a career.

RN: So if I ring my wife now and get her to put five pounds down the mole hill in our garden, I can have the benefit of the doubt. Someone, get me a phone! Get me a phone!

PM: The mole has to spend the money!

RN: Oh I'm going to have to start a mole shop now! God, she's going to be busy, my missus, tonight! Build a shop for moles! And then put the money down the hole...

TH: No that's not good enough.

RN: And the point is mine! The point is mine!

TH: No, the moles still have to want to work there. It would be a waste of time.

RN: What kind, what kind of Daily Mail attitude is that? Some of these moles don't want to work!

PM: What about animal rights? What about animal rights? Hasn't the mole got a right to a career? Nicholas, you've got a career. Why can't a mole have the same as you?

NP: Because I don't live in a mole hill.

PM: Don't you?

NP: No, I mean, I mean, I work hard, I use my er ingenuity and brains in order to entertain people and things like that. A mole doesn't entertain anybody...

RN: It doesn't wittingly...

TH: No you see, Nicholas brilliantly has justified chairing this ahead of a mole!

NP: Tony you have a correct challenge and you'll be delighted to hear you have only one second to go.

SH: Oh!

NP: And you start now.

TH: Moles...


NP: So I've just had a message to say we are moving into the final round.


NP: Let me give you the situation as we start the final round. Paul Merton is in the lead, he is three ahead of Ross Noble and Tony Hawks, equal in second place. And he is more than a few ahead of Sheila Hancock who is...


NP: But it's the contribution that matters, not the points really isn't it. You couldn't care less. Paul it's your turn to begin and the subject is law and order. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PM: (in Cockney accent) Well I got this lock-up garage Ealing way you see. And the other day I took delivery of these counterfeit Nicholas Parsons'. They're full of chocolate just like the real thing, do you know what I mean. Then suddenly the rozzer comes up to me and he feels my collar and I suddenly feel myself going to the prison. So he says to me, he says "how come you've got these..."


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: No I didn't.

SH: I did.

NP: Oh well, Ross's light came on. But you pressed your buzzer, did you?

SH: Oh that's why I'm losing, obviously!

NP: Sheila this has never happened before, but let's just assume your light should have come on, right.

SH: Right. He said "he says to me, he says".

PM: Yeah yeah.

NP: That's right. He did, well listened Sheila. Were you auditioning for some...

PM: There is somebody actually, yeah.

NP: There is somebody. Sheila you have a correct challenge, you have 44 seconds still available, law and order starting now.

SH: I'm not very fond of law and order. I prefer anarchy myself, being a Quaker because we co-operate...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Bit of hesitation there.

SH: Yeah there was. I we. I realised that all the Quakers will now be writing into me and saying how dare you say we are anarchists.

NP: I was a bit surprised about that actually.

SH: Yeah. Well they are, they are. But...

NP: Are they?

TH: I must say...

NP: They'll all be writing now!

TH: You wriggled out of that one very well, Sheila!

NP: I think she wriggled further into it actually! Thirty-eight seconds for you Ross on law and order starting now.

RN: I went to visit the law court recently. Imagine my surprise when I saw a mole working as a judge. That's right, there he was, sitting there, as bold as brass. He had a fine robe on...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Moles can't be judges. He's drawing a picture of a mole with a wig on. I withdraw my challenge.

NP: Ross drew a picture of a mole sitting as a judge. I mean, what do you want me to do? Be logical on this? In which case, it's against you Ross.

RN: If you're going to be logical, I don't stand to get a point in this game ever again!

NP: Well I love it when you, one of you goes into the realm of the surreal. So shall we give Ross the benefit of the doubt...

RN: Oh.


NP: And say that was surreal humour, 27 seconds, law and order, Ross starting now.

RN: Whaa, what...


RN: Just... you didn't say now, you went...

TH: Hesitation!

RN: No! Nicholas went ah er now.

TH: You're going to buzz him for hesitation?

RN: Yeah. Hesitation.

PM: Actually that was hesitation Nicholas, I think you did hesitate.

RN: He went di di di dah did da now, and I went ohhhh.

NP: All right, well, I, I get a point for an incorrect challenge...

PM: Yeah, Nicholas gets a point, you should get a point.

NP: It's the first point I've had in Just A Minute in 43 years.

TH: Yeah!

PM: Up to that point, you were pointless, weren't you! But now you have got a point...

NP: I think I'll clean it up. I could win the game now.

PM: Just keep challenging Nicholas, he could win the game!

NP: Now he's, listen, you had...


PM: That was hesitation again.

RN: That was hesitation Nicholas.

NP: Yes definitely, another point to me.

RN: Another point, a point!

NP: Ross I gave you the benefit of the doubt before so I can't give it to you two, two things running.


NP: Yes?

SH: Hesitation Nicholas.

NP: Yes another hesitation. In a minute I'll be winning this game, you know. So Tony has the benefit of the doubt, he has the subject of law and order, 25 seconds to go starting now.

TH: When I was a student, a colleague came down one morning and said to me "That's my all possession is theft T-shirt you are wearing". Now if law and order was enforced, that kind of thing wouldn't happen. Theft as we know is...


PM: We had theft before.

NP: Yes you did. Paul, correct challenge, you have 11 seconds, tell us something more about law and order starting now.

PM: (sings) There's nothing like law and order to keep the peace in society. There's...


NP: Tony challenged.

PM: Is somebody in on it? They're auditioning for a musical. I've given them a contemporary musical.

TH: Yeah well, I don't know why I think this but I think he had repetition of society.

PM: No.

NP: No.

TH: Did he say first thing...

NP: No.

TH: When he was doing the Cockney character and everything.

NP: No no no no no.

TH: Moons ago.

NP: No there's somebody, he's trying to get a job from somebody in the audience, I don't know who it is. And he's done the character stuff and now he's doing the musical stuff.

PM: Exactly.

NP: So five seconds Paul, law and order starting now.

PM: (in Cockney accent) But you don't understand, I aint got the rent to pay for another...


PM: A bit of melodrama. Melodrama. What's happening now?

NP: Ross has challenged you.

RN: It's repetition of aint. From before, you said I aint.

PM: I could have been the new Fagin!

NP: Yeah he did do that when he did the Cockney the first time.

RN: Yeah.

NP: (In Cockney accent) Yeaaaaaaah.

RN: Was he a Cockney hunchback?

NP: Yeah...

RN: (in Cockney accent) No worries missus. We'll get those bells rung, don't worry about that.

NP: Right so benefit of the doubt to Ross with two seconds to go, law and order starting now.

RN: Law And Order is a very popular television series...


NP: So Ross Noble was speaking then as the whistle went, gained that extra point and he just didn't quite make it. So in reverse order, Nicholas Parsons got four points. Sheila Hancock got seven or eight or nine. And then Tony Hawks came just a little ahead of her with 14. Ross Noble got 17 points. But one ahead was Paul Merton so we say Paul, you are the winner this week. So it only remains for me to say thank you to these four delightful and clever players of the game, Paul Merton, Sheila Hancock, Tony Hawks and Ross Noble. I thank Sarah Sharpe, who has helped me with the score, blown her whistle elegantly when the 60 seconds elapsed. We thank Ian Messiter who created this amazing game, we are deeply indebted to him. And we are also indebted to our producer Tilusha Ghelani, who steered us on our way. And we are indebted to this audience here who kept awake. So from our audience, and from me Nicholas Parsons, and from the team here, thank you very much indeed, tune in the next time we play Just A Minute! Yes!