starring PAUL MERTON, GYLES BRANDRETH, JENNY ECLAIR and PAM AYRES, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 15 February 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 all those millions who tune in throughout the world. And also to welcome to the programme four dynamic, diverse and delightful personalities who this week are going to play Just A Minute. And they are, seated on my right, we have Paul Merton and Jenny Eclair. And seated on my left, Pam Ayres and Gyles Brandreth. Please welcome all four of them! As usual I am going to ask them to speak on a subject that I will give them and they try and do that without hesitation, repetition and deviation, until they are challenged. Seated beside me is Sarah Sharpe, who is going to help me with the score, she is going to 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 let's begin the show with Paul Merton. Oh Paul, I don't know whether this is your scene or not. But if I were a time traveller. Will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PAUL MERTON: If I were a time traveller, I could travel one minute into the future and see if I can speak on this subject for 60 seconds in this game that we call JAM. And I feel confident that I won't hesitate, deviate or repeat. But if I do, then I will be surprised to find out at the end that I actually had not experienced time travel as we know it. Because I have a very clear idea of how this entire programme is going to go. Jenny is...


NP: Pam challenged.

PAM AYRES: I thought it was rather a hesitation there.

NP: It wasn't rather, it was a hesitation.

PA: I think it probably was.

NP: I think it was definitely. I mean he had been going...

JENNY ECLAIR: It's a good job you were interrupted, I don't know what you were going to say about me then.

PM: No, I know. You've just wasted the gift of time travel.

NP: No Pam, we give you the correct challenge, I think it was a hesitation.

PM: Yeah.

NP: So you get a point for a correct challenge.

PA: Thank you.

NP: You have 29 seconds available to take over the subject, if I were a time traveller starting now.

PA: If I were a time traveller, I would like to go back to the age of the cavemen and walk about with a cudgel. Also I am quite good at drawing, so I could have been the Gerald Scarfe of my day, and drawn amazing drawings of bison...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GYLES BRANDRETH: Well a couple of challenges really. Deviation, I didn't hear the rhyme. I expected there to be rhymes and that's a bit disappointing to me. But of course there was a repetition.

NP: Of what?

GB: Of the last word that she said.

PA: What?

GB: It was a word that...

PM: Well this is going to be a great game, isn't it!

PA: You can't even...

JE: Drawings.

GB: Drawing, drawing.

PM: No it was drawing and drawings.

NP: No she said drawings the first time.

PM: That's right.

JE: Singular and plural.

NP: All right darling, I'm running the game, don't worry.

GB: But my challenge was deviation, there was no rhyme.

NP: It doesn't really matter if there was no rhyme.

PA: I'm not here as a rhymer.

NP: They didn't rhyme everything in those days.

PA: I'm here as one of the intelligentsia, I'm not here as one of, as a rhymer.

NP: She said drawings the first time in the plural, and the second time it was drawing. So she was not actually repeating anything so she has another point for an incorrect challenge, she keeps the subject, 13 seconds available Pam, starting now.

PA: Pterodactyls as they fly down from the great steaming rain forest tees which flourished during that period. Yes with my weaponry, I could have hunted...


NP: So in this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. And it was Pam Ayres. And you will not be surprised to know she's the only one who has got any points at the end of that round. Jenny will you start the next round. Here's an interesting subject, working from home. Could you tell us something about working from home, 60 seconds starting now.

JE: I love working from home. It's what I do usually when I am not being dragged into the West End to do radio shows. I start my working from home day waking up, popping myself into a bath, thinking, thinking... oh!


JE: Oh! Not thinking!

NP: Yeah that was unusual, thinking thinking. It's maybe what you do when you get into a bath. Anyway Paul, correct challenge...

PM: Yes. Asthma attack!

NP: And you have...

PM: And repetition.

NP: And repetition.

JE: Yes I know! I didn't even finish the word, I knew what I'd done! If I'd been really quick I could have said thinkalankoyopang. Which is the name of my bath oil.

NP: All right Jenny, Paul had a correct challenge.

JE: Yes he did.

NP: And he's got 45 seconds on working from home Paul, starting now.

PM: My dad was a steeplejack and he worked from home the whole time. This was really terribly embarrassing because there would be a huge chimney in the middle of the living room and he would climb up, he'd get to the top, knock it down and come back again. You'd say "what was that all about?" He'd say "well I've got to earn a living." The other people that work from home, as was predicted in the leisure industries of 20 years ago, when they said that by the year 2010 we'd all be sitting by computers, tapping out things by modems connected to offices. We won't ever have to work in an office again because we will simply have...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Two offices.

PM: No.

NP: No again...

GB: No no no no no.

PM: Office... office, offices.

GB: I love your commanding presence but I was listening most carefully, there were two offices, both of them in the singular. Please replay the tape to yourself!

NP: I have replayed the tape in my mind. He definitely said office the first time...

GB: But your mind is playing tricks with you, Nicholas! Office and then office! Office and then... I bow to your superior judgement of course!

NP: We love your presence, and we love your aggression...

GB: But you don't like any of my challenges!

NP: ... and your enthusiasm...

GB: You haven't allowed a challenge from me since 1963!

NP: Well that's because they weren't correct! Right an incorrect challenge though Paul, a point to you, 17 seconds still available, working from home starting now.

PM: As a writer-performer, it's fairly easy to work at home because you can simply put together your scripts without being bothered by other people. It's essential to get your own space and time in order to create comedy. Jenny Eclair is a supreme practitioner of the comedic art and she is also...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking when the whistle went. And with other points in the round, he is now equal with Pam Ayres in the lead. Jenny and Gyles have yet to register. Pam we'd like you to begin the next round. And the subject is, oh, for somebody who lives in the country. The first sign of spring, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

PA: What do we crave emerging from the grim gloom of winter? The buttercup yellow aconyte with her frilly green collar. The er delicate looking... oh!


NP: Gyles.

GB: I didn't want to get to the rhyme, it was such beautiful poetry. And I, and I...

NP: Why did you challenge?

GB: Because of the hesitation.

NP: Yes yes, because she tripped over her words...

GB: She tripped over her words as one might trip over a twig in the forest. It was something, something of such beauty.

NP: So why do you let her go on?

GB: Because I haven't scored a single point yet! And I'm not going to! I can see that!

NP: Since 1963. No, it was a correct challenge...

GB: Oh!

NP: So you have to have it, Gyles, the first sign of spring and there are 49 seconds starting now.

GB: Since I have become a naturist, my wife does not allow me to work at home any longer. I am often sent out to the woods. But in spring, my ears twitch, because the joy for me as the first sign of spring, is the noise of the beautiful birds. The tits and thrushes as they come out. They appear at the lambskins as they are called upon the trees. These are the male versions...


NP: Pam challenged.

PA: They're not called lambskins. That's, that's something dragged off the carcass of a lamb.

GB: You haven't been to the country where I live.

PA: What you meant to say was lambkins without the skins.

NP: It was lambkins you were searching for.

PA: Yeah.

NP: Not lambskins. You're talking, you're talking to a country girl there.

GB: I cannot resist a powerful woman!

NP: So Pam you had a correct challenge...

PA: Okay.

NP: ... because you know your country um ah...

GB: Lore.

NP: Lore, thank you very much. Twenty-eight seconds available Pam, the first sign of spring starting now.

PA: Exquisite snowdrops are somehow, they thrust themselves upwards through the frozen ground...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Second ground, I'm afraid.

NP: Oh yes. Because there was the aconytes came up through the ground before.

JE: I do apologise, because I too was enjoying it.

PA: No they didn't.

NP: Didn't they? Where did they come from?

PA: No the aconytes were buttercup yellow with a frilly collar but they didn't come up through anything.

NP: No, they didn't come up...

PA: With my photographic memory...

NP: That's right...

JE: Mmmmmmm!

PA: I recall that there was no ground lost.

JE: I apologise for my incorrect challenge.

NP: There was no ground... no, no, don't do that, darling. All that happens is that Pam gets another point...

JE: Oh!

NP: ... which she'll be pleased with. She has 22 seconds to continue with the first sign of spring starting now.

PA: Strap-like leaves of daffodils as they appear and blow on the lawn. Stand well back for the first signs of spring, the swelling birds, the unfurling leaf, the unstoppable throb of the rising sap, yes!


NP: Oh I will remember that for a long time Pam. So Jenny...

JE: That's why I challenged.

NP: Yes.

JE: I found you were getting a bit purple in the face Nicholas. It was a good idea of we halted things just there.

NP: Well she halted slightly and that was a hesitation so...

JE: It was a throb in the sap, sap.

NP: Yes you've got in with three, three seconds to go...

PA: Oh!

NP: Oh! But that's the, um...

JE: I can blow it! I can tell you!

NP: Jenny another point to you, the first sign of spring starting now.

JE: For most women, the first sign of spring is when we have to...


NP: So Jenny Eclair was then speaking as the whistle went and she gained that extra point for doing so. And she is in third place. Pam's in the lead, and Paul, one point behind. Then Jenny one point behind, and Gyles one point behind. It's very close. Gyles will you begin the next round. Will you tell us something about Greenland in this game starting now.

GB: As chance would have it, I have been to Greenland. And the first thing you need to know is that Greenland does not refer to a colour, but the word green in Danish which means free. These are people who have liberty given to them by Denmark, the country that has over-riding power across this dense island which is not a continent, but in fact the least populated land mass of its kind on the planet Earth. Where geysers erupt and there is a wonderful tundra that is ice and you can eat reindeer with a clear conscience. The Inuit are charming local people and I have danced with them, singing the old song that goes (sings) "timantony, gigampony, crossing along the way... "


GB: (sings) Lady riding in a brand new hat, isn't it a lovely day.

NP: Gyles you have been challenged.

GB: What?

NP: You've been challenged.

GB: That's surprising.

NP: I think it could be for your singing actually. But Paul what was the challenge?

PM: Well repetition of temko.

NP: Yes.

PM: He's not pronouncing it the right way anyway.

NP: He was certainly repeating that particular phrase of the song. And Paul a correct challenge...


GB: Excuse me! Excuse me! Please do listen! There'll be an audio of this eventually, do listen to it Nicholas! Because you will find that there was actually no repetition, unless you count the repetition of a note. Maybe you do, maybe. But there was no repetition of words, I'm just pointing that out.

NP: Gyles I'm relying on, I'm relying on my, I'm relying on my...

GB: I won't speak again.

PM: Has anyone got a taser?

JE: Were the words to the song "Tim and Tony on a pony"?

GB: No. (sings) Timantony, gigampony, crossing along the way, lady riding in a brand new hat, isn't it a lovely day."

PM: We're in a time-loop here! I keep...

NP: I think, I think there was a phrase which you repeated.

PM: Well, he's sung the same song three times now. Somewhere in that, there must be repetition.

NP: I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to Paul and if I have the chance later on to reverse this, to give you the benefit Gyles, I will do so. But Paul, benefit of the doubt to you, a point, 16 seconds, Greenland starting now.

PM: Of course it's a beautiful carpet warehouse just outside Idlesworth. Greenland, every available floor covering is within these four walls. You can order any pattern you wish. For example...


NP: Oh Jenny you challenged.

JE: Two anys, any.

NP: Yes.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Two anys.

PM: Yeah I was passionate about it.

NP: Yeah. Jenny you very cleverly got in again with one second to go. Greenland starting now

JE: I've never been to Greenland.


NP: Right so Jenny Eclair speaking as the whistle went, she's gained that extra point. She's moved forward, she's in second place now because Paul Merton and Pam Ayres are equal in the lead. And Gyles is trailing a little. And Jenny will you begin the next round.

JE: Yes!

NP: I don't know why this has been chosen for you to start but deal with it the best way you can, wrinkles.

JE: Oh! Oooohhh the cheek!

NP: I don't think of the subjects, darling. It's not me, I don't think of them. Wrinkles, 60 seconds starting now.

JE: Wrinkles are just life's rich tapestry on one's face. Some of us are better stitched than others. Laugh lines they occasionally call them, but nothing's that funny. Crow's feet are the tiny ones round the eyes. Many women these days don't go in for wrinkles what with the botox, not naming... names...


JE: Nicole Kidman! Hah! Fat and sad! Who'd know!

NP: Yes that was a hesitation Gyles, so you have wrinkles and you have 35 seconds starting now.

GB: Wrinkles, my advice is accept them. Many people try to get rid of them and this is a mistake. My mother...


NP: Pam challenged.

PA: Is there a repetition of them?

NP: Yes, there were two thems.

PA: Sorry Gyles, she lied!

NP: Sharp challenge!

GB: Sharp challenge! Sharp challenge!

NP: Thirty seconds Pam, to tell us something about wrinkles starting now.

PA: My grand...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: No!

PM: Was there not?

NP: No, teetering on it.

PM: Oh teetering!

NP: But she wasn't there. And so she has 29 and a half seconds on wrinkles starting now.

PA: Used to make a wrinkle cream in her still room from lavender, bees wax, steerin, rose petals, boiled up and condensed, which was then bottled into little containers and...


NP: Right Gyles.

GB: I'd like her to go more slowly, I'm sorry I'm trying to write this down.

NP: So you think you need it, do you Gyles.

GB: I know people who do. There was a slight hesitation.

NP: There was a slight hesitation. So you have your benefit of the doubt Gyles.

GB: That's very sweet of you.

NP: So you've got...

GB: Can I say how the light is flattering you this evening?

NP: I can't give you two bonus points! Right you have 15 seconds, the subject is wrinkles and you start now.

GB: My mother lived in an old folks home in California where she was the only person who had not had facial surgery. And when the birthdays came round, she was consequently the one who could blow out the candles. Everybody else who was there was attempting to pucker their lips but were unable to do so...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: I was slow. But it was two whos.

NP: Oh God, we're getting very sharp now, aren't we. Yes yes, you did say whose twice.

JE: Who.

GB: Whose once, then who.

JE: No. Who had not had plastic surgery, who blew out the candles. I'm ever so sorry Gyles. I was really enjoying the story, that's why I let it go on for a bit. Then I thought no, I'm not enjoying it that much! Let's stop it now!

NP: Jenny you've cleverly got in again with three seconds to go.

JE: It's all in the timing!

NP: The subject is wrinkles and starting now.

JE: Of course it's not just faces that have wrinkles. Shirts also have them...


NP: Right so Jenny Eclair was then speaking as the whistle went. She's one point behind our equal leaders, Pam Ayres and Paul Merton. And Pam would you begin the next round, being late. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PA: I always set my alarm clock for three hours before I need to get up so that I can cook an enormous fry-up, do a long, hard session in the gym, chop up a pile of firewood, prepare my documents, have a shower and arrange my features into pristine perfection as I go forth. Compare...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: I was thinking a lot about that, and then I suddenly remembered the cruel challenge of the double them. So I am going to challenge the double up. I get up and then I have a fry-up.

NP: Yes that's right.

GB: No, I thought about it, I pondered, I listened to the story, and then I thought, no, I am not a gentleman really.

NP: Gyles you have made your point.

GB: Have I.

NP: You have a correct challenge and you take over the subject of being late and there are 39 seconds starting now.

GB: My worst experience of being late was when I was a Member of Parliament. And a horrible man who wore red... dungarees...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

GB: Yes.

NP: Hesitation Gyles yes, Paul's got it...

GB: Yeah and I was coming last as well.

NP: He has 33 seconds, tell us something about being late Paul, starting now.

PM: Sometimes of course it isn't your fault. I remember one job I started, working for a charity in the West End of London, and the very first day of work I was half an hour late. I hadn't been working for about six months before that and I was...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Double working.

NP: Yes you were working twice.

PM: Was I?

NP: Yes.

JE: Not like him!

GB: You were going to do the overtime!

NP: You were working for a charity, you said at the beginning.

PM: Oh yes.

JE: Yeah that, nearly, I nearly buzzed on that, I thought, him? No!

NP: Jenny you had a correct challenge, being late is the subject, 20 seconds starting now.

JE: I don't like being late, I'm the only girl...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: You did hesitate Jenny. You didn't get going at all.

JE: I was just breathing. That's what I was trying to do. Next time I won't bother!

NP: We give benefits of the doubt, I think the benefit goes to Paul on that occasion. So 19 seconds...

JE: He's had two benefits of the doubt now.

NP: You'll get two before the times out. Nineteen seconds Paul, being late, starting now.

PM: I was meant to be there at nine o'clock but I arrived at some considerable time...


NP: Yes Gyles?

GB: Hesitation.

NP: Yes, right, being late Gyles, 14 seconds starting now.

GB: Such are the vicissitudes of this, our subluminary existence, that being late is the thing that does happen now and again. And on this occasion, the gentleman in the tartan trews accused me of never going to a soccer match. I said football is my least favourite sport...


NP: So Gyles Brandreth was then speaking when the whistle went and gained that extra point for doing so. And with others in the round, they're all pretty equal as we go into the next round. And Gyles it's your turn to begin, and the subject now is frozen assets. Frozen assets, 60 seconds starting now.

GB: In this kind of inclement weather, my little French poodle, Fido, spelt P-H-Y-D-E-A-U-X has wonderful knitted garments to wear upon his frozen assets. Whereas my other hound, the one called Down Boy, the mongrel, that he thinks is his name, has nothing. I myself don't let my assets freeze because I wear wonderful woollen dungarees. There is a novel by PG Wodehouse with the title Frozen Assets. It was published in 1964 and concerns the tale of Lord Finchley. And indeed there is an epigraph about him that says that he tried to mend the electric light, struck him dead and serve him right! It is the business of the wealthy man to give employment to the artisan. The novel begins with a most amusing scene, held in the peer's boudoir where...


NP: Jenny challenged.

GB: I'm describing Frozen Assets published in 1964, excellent novel.

NP: Yeah I know you are. But Jenny challenged you, what was the challenge Jenny?

JE: I thought he was going on a bit! Um I'd say deviation.

NP: Why?

JE: Well because it was more about this fellow and the electrocution of his light-bulb and all that.

NP: No darling, he was actually talking about this fellow's frozen assets.

JE: I've not read that book. I don't need to read it now, because he has told me all about it. That's fine.

NP: He obviously had frozen assets of a different kind as well. No Gyles, benefit of the doubt so you've got two now. And you have the subject still and you have 14 seconds starting now.

GB: In France there is a beautiful statue of a naked man and there call his frozen assets Le Pattie Knoble. It is an amusing way of describing the pendulous objects that hang around his neck.


NP: So Gyles Brandreth speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's moved forward, he's now in second place, one point behind our leader, Paul Merton. And he's one point ahead of Jenny Eclair and Pam Ayres. It's as close as that in the points. And Jenny it's your turn to begin, and the subject is, I hope one of the boys get this subject, the contents of my handbag, Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

JE: The contents of my handbag depends on the size of my handbag. Should it be large, then it will be stuffed. Tissues, lipstick, contact lenses, bus map, Tube cart, ticket...


NP: Paul challenged.

JE: I went French! I went French! Cart as in Tube cart, underground.

PM: She said Tube cart. And I think that's deviation, I don't think she's got a Tube cart in her handbag.

JE: It was from the French Underground. Cart.

NP: It was, it was an incorrect challenge, love. So Paul you have the subject, 47 seconds, the contents of my handbag.

PM: I'm glad to have this opportunity to discuss my sexuality. The contents of my handbag are many and beautiful. I have a tiny portrait of Gyles Brandreth that was made when he was 12 years old. I also have a lock of Nicholas Parsons...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Oh it's deviation! Oh it's disgusting! A tiny Gyles Brandreth and a lock of Nicholas's hair! Eurgh! Deviation! Deviant! What have you got of mine? Some of my skin?

PM: I've got your original hair colour, Jenny!

NP: Jenny he wasn't deviating within the rules of Just A Minute.

JE: No.

NP: He's perfectly entitled to...

JE: I think he was saying things he might regret though!

NP: So Paul gets another point for an incorrect challenge, 34 seconds available Paul, the contents of my handbag starting now.

PM: Five stones, four diaries representing many years of my life. A compact with a little bit of face powder lying in it from those days when I had...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Repetition of days.

NP: Yes you did, yes you talked about days before.

PM: Did I?

NP: Yes. When did he say it?

GB: In that round. During this round. He looked, the diary took him back to his days and then he also had them days just subsequently.

NP: That's right, after you were talking about the diary.

PM: I might have done, yes.

GB: I think he did.

NP: Yes, 24 seconds Gyles on the contents of my handbag starting now.

GB: "A handbag!" Cried Dame Edith Evans in the famous production of The Importance Of Being Ernest. And that handbag I...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Well he's talking about um, that handbag, not his own handbag.

GB: No. I now own that handbag, that's the point, from the production.

JE: Really?

GB: Yes! And I was about to tell you about it and how the greatness has touched that very handbag. I'm about to list the cast of the original production, you see.

JE: Oh you don't need to do that. But it would be interesting to hear about the handbag.

GB: I'm going to describe it...

NP: I think, Jenny, you said you hadn't had the benefit of the doubt.

GB: What? But I actually own this handbag, Nicholas!

NP: Gyles... Gyles...

GB: Right! No!

NP: You act up like mad and the audience love it. But you did not establish that you owned the handbag.

GB: Oh but I was about to establish...

NP: You were about to do it, but you didn't establish it.

GB: The reason your audience are happy is that they, like me, are on drugs! As a consequence all that you are saying just washes over us! I don't mind, I will get home and bury myself in that handbag! I will sing to myself (sings) timantony, gigampony, crossing along the way...

NP: And you don't even get a bonus point for that because it was too much of an interruption, So Jenny you have the benefit of the doubt because he did deviate, it was my handbag and he was talking about the handbag in The Importance Of Being Ernest. So 18 seconds for you on the contents of my handbag starting now.

JE: In my handbag I've got a tape of Gyles Brandreth singing (sings) Tim and Tony rode a pony, lee lee, la la la!


JE: It was worth it! I don't care!

PM: Well first of all, can I just remind people that I was accused of being deviant some time ago. But it was a repetition of the word lee.

NP: Yes and la as well.

JE: Lee lee la la.

NP: Paul, correct challenge, 11 seconds, the contents of my handbag starting now.

PM: And if you search down deep into the recesses of my handbag, you will find the most extraordinary piece of paper. Written on it is the clue to the exact whereabouts of my grandfather's treasure!


NP: So Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. Let me give you the final situation. Pam Ayres who always gives such great value, still gave great value, but on this occasion she finished just in fourth place. A brilliant fourth place, but it was fourth, anyway! She was only two points behind Gyles Brandreth. And she was only four points behind Jenny Eclair. Who was four points behind Paul Merton. So we say Paul, this week, you are our winner! So it only remains for me to say thank you to these four delightful, vibrant players of this game, Paul Merton, Jenny Eclair, Pam Ayres and Gyles Brandreth. I thank Sarah Sharpe who has helped me with the score, and has blown her whistle so delicately. We thanks our producer Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And we are deeply grateful to this lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre who have cheered us on our way magnificently. So from our audience, and from me, Nicholas Parsons, and the team, good-bye. And tune in again the next time we play Just A Minute! Yes!