NOTE: Steve Punt's first appearance.


NICHOLAS PARSONS: Thank you, thank you, hello and welcome to Just A Minute. The rules of this game are ridiculously simple, until you just try to play the game, and then you find that they are simply ridiculous. But today we have four bright sparks who are going to show how they can play this game with spark and fun. And first on my right, we have two comedy writers and performers, Maria McErlane and beside her Steve Punt. And on my left two evergreen actresses and comedy players, Wendy Richard, and beside her Linda Smith. Please welcome all four of them. And as usual I'm going to give them a subject and ask them to speak on it and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviating from the subject. Today we begin the show with Maria McErlane and the subject is virtual reality. Oooh it's a toughie! But go if you can for 60 seconds Maria starting now.

MARIA McERLANE: Virtual reality must surely be far and away the best way to live your life, real reality being far too harsh a concept for me sadly to take on board. Also you don't have to speak to anyone, just pop on the headphones, switch on the computer, take the right medication, and lo and behold, you can be happy for hours on end.


NP: Linda challenged.

LINDA SMITH: Just a touch of hesitation.

NP: There was a touch because she wanted to say hours and hours, and that's always a difficulty in Just A Minute. So Linda has a correct challenge, she gets a point for that, and she takes over the subject, and there are 42 seconds available, Linda, virtual reality, starting now.

LS: I'm not really sure what virtual reality is. Is it a bit like deja vu where you think something's happened but it hasn't really, and you just spend the whole day thinking did I? Was it? Am I? What's going on? What's happening? What, what on earth is...


NP: What, what, what, what, what! We interpret that as hesitation. So Wendy, you have a correct challenge, you have a point, you have the subject and there are 28 seconds available, virtualy reality, starting now.

WENDY RICHARD: I haven't the faintest idea what virtual reality is, unless, of course, it's sitting next to Nicholas Parsons! But my boyfriend likes playing this game Terminator on the play station, and apparently that is virtual reality. I think you're supposed to guide the person around and the scenery about it all alters to suit this little figure that is running through the most appalling things you have ever seen. As far as I understand it that is virtual reality. I sometimes I wonder if my whole life...


NP: So Wendy kept going for 28 seconds, and was speaking as the whistle went. She gains an extra point for doing that and at the end of the round, she's taken the lead. And from Maria we move to Steve Punt. Steve the subject here is courage. It takes courage to come on the show! But you talk on that subject if you can Steve starting now.

STEVE PUNT: Er courage Nicholas, is the best behaved twin brother of fear. Where there is that negative, there should also be that positive. And to say for example that you are frightened of flying. The prospect of being ejected off the ground sitting in a metal cylinder and propelled 30,000 feet into the air, held aloft merely by two columns of exploding gases fills you with er trepidation...


NP: Yes Linda?

LS: Er trepidation.

NP: Er trepidation, yes. And you started with an er but they let it go Steve.

SP: What is trepidation?

NP: You said er trepidation, er is hesitation in Just A Minute.

SP: Ah!

NP: No...

LS: And so is that! So is that!

SP: That will teach me to go er for comedy effect! Damn!

NP: I know. That is one of the problems and challenges of Just A Minute. So Linda, a correct challenge to you, another point of course. And courage is with you, 39 seconds, starting now.

LS: Courage is a brewery, like so many other breweries like Truemans...


WR: Sorry.

NP: You said brewery twice.

LS: Yes I did.

NP: Wendy spotted it.

LS: Almost like I said brewery brewery, didn't I? I almost said that.

MM: No you said brewery and then breweries.

NP: No she said brewery.

MM: Like so many other breweries.

NP: I think she said brewery.

LS: Oh no actually.

WR: No she didn't because that's why I was so upset when I buzzed her because I was wrong. I do apologise Linda.

LS: Thank you Wendy.

WR: Please accept my sincere apologies.

LS: It takes a big person to say that, thank you.

NP: So you can repeat the words on the card but if you put it in the plural you haven't repeated it. So Linda you have a point for an incorrect challenge. And you keep the courage of subject.... no, that's the wrong way round, and nobody laughed! I won't do anything like that again...

WR: Because they're not listening to you Nicholas! I never listen to you!

NP: Courage is the subject Linda, 35 seconds, starting now.

LS: The point I was making was that the slogan...


NP: Steve yes?

SP: Deviation.

NP: Why?

SP: I just want to say deviation on day time television. Sorry I must apologise to Linda, she was fine. It's just that...

NP: Well all right I'll tell you what I'll do Steve, I'll give you a bonus point. The audience laughed, they enjoyed your interruption. But also Linda gets a point because she was interrupted. You keep the subject, Linda, courage, 33 seconds, starting now.

LS: They do say that it takes a coward to be truly courageous. And I don't know if that's really true. But that is the popular wisdom. The Lion in the Wizard of Oz was very very cowardly...


NP: And Wendy got that one...

WR: Very very.

LS: Oh.

NP: Very very, yes.

LS: It seems so easy when you're watching.

NP: So Wendy, very very, repetition, 20 seconds available, courage, with you.

WR: It takes a lot of courage to come on this problem. Nicholas is quite right...


NP: Why do you say that?

SP: Well that's repetition. Because you've already done that joke.

NP: It wasn't exactly a joke, was it? Didn't get a laugh when I said it, didn't get a laugh when Wendy said it!

SP: Does it count? Does it count if someone has else said it?

NP: Yes you can take off other people's material if you want to. You can take over mine. But I said it before so Wendy didn't repeat herself.

SP: Ah fine.

NP: That's all right, no, no, no, nice to hear from you Steve.

LS: Steve if you think about it, if you couldn't use any words that had been used previously, you would be left with a choice of about three words by round 2, wouldn't you?

SP: That's. True.

NP: Linda your profound observations have set that audience absolutely agog. They were throbbing when we started and that throb has disappeared.

LS: I've set them aglaze!

NP: Aglaze right. It was a correct challenge with Wendy and there are 17 seconds on courage starting now.

WR: I've completely lost the plot now about courage so I shall go off on a different tack. People have varying degrees of courage and it is not till you are pushed to the er...


NP: Maria McErlane.

MM: I think there was a bit of hesitation there.

NP: There was a bit of hesitation. Maria you got in with six seconds to go on the subject of courage starting now.

MM: Mother Courage is truly a marvellous play, written by Bertolt Brecht, I believe, who was...


NP: Maria McErlane was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. Wendy Richard and Linda Smith are equal in the lead just ahead of the other two. And Wendy your turn to begin. Your subject: my hairdresser. Can you tell us? Not mine... well, you can take it any way you like if you want to. Anyway tell us about mine or yours, it doesn't matter, start now.

WR: My hairdresser who's an extremely good cutter. And he also cuts the hair of some of the members of the Government, this present lot that we've got in. When you see him, the hairdresser, he's the untidiest person! You wouldn't believe he could turn out such smashing coiffures for such important personages as those residing in Number 10 Downing St. Myself, he does me a very good cut for my... hair...


NP: Linda?

LS: I couldn't resist her pleading eyes!

NP: I know!

WR: Thanks!

NP: You came to her rescue! Thirty-three seconds are still available for you, you have another point, and you have my hairdresser starting now.

LS: My hairdresser sports a rather fetching purple mohican hairstyle, which may put some people off. But it doesn't put me off because I like a hairdresser...


NP: Yes Maria?

MM: Put and off.

NP: Put me off, yes, repeated that. So Maria, 24 seconds, you tell us something about this subject of my hairdresser starting now.

MM: Why do hairdressers always tut horribly and then say "who cut your hair last?" And you always have to reply "it was you!"


NP: And...

WR: No. She read Lynda Lee Potter's column this morning as well and it was in there! So it's not a genuine comment.

NP: It's a genuine comment because we just said a little while ago, Wendy, you can use other people's material, other people's ideas, provided you do not repeat them...

WR: Yes but I think Lynda Lee Potter ought to get the credit!

MM: Wendy it was me that wrote to Lynda Lee Potter with that peculiar...

WR: Oh was it? Oh sorry!

NP: And she's got the letter to prove it too. Right, incorrect challenge, a point to you Maria, and you have 15 seconds on my hairdresser starting now.

MM: The other thing they constantly crave is "have you been on holiday this year?" Why don't they just leave you alone? Sit there, have your hair cut, go home, the end, pay through the nose, and (starts to giggle)


WR: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation. Wendy you got in with three seconds to go! Yes! On my hairdresser starting now.

WR: My dog's hairdresser is a very nice man called...


NP: And someone's challenged.

MM: Deviation.

NP: Why?

MM: It's not my hairdresser, it's my dog's hairdresser!

WR: But he's still a hairdresser!

NP: And you have half a second to go on my hairdresser starting now.

WR: My...


NP: Wendy Richard was trying to speak when the whistle went, gained an extra point for doing so and has increased her lead at the end of the round. Linda Smith, your turn, the subject, oooh! Peeping toms. Can you tell us something about those in this game starting now.

LS: Peeping toms are dirty, sleazy, filthy people who spy on others as they are getting undressed. And I really am trying to stop doing it, m'lud! But it's very difficult when I'm surrounded with so much temptation on my own doorstep. Please take mercy on a poor peeping tom who...


NP: Why have you challenged Steve?

SP: Well because this is plainly deviation.

NP: Why?

SP: Well that's what she's talking about!

NP: Oh! It is deviation from behaviour that we would normally accept. So all I can do is...

SP: It is however a pun! Do I get a point for a pun?

NP: No I'll give you a point because we enjoyed the comment even if it wasn't a correct challenge within the rules of Just A Minute. But as Linda was interrupted she gets a point for a interruption, she keeps the subject, there are 45 seconds, peeping tom with you Linda starting now.

LS: A Peeping Tom was a marvellous film by Karen Pressberg. Quite spooky and strange, and very disturbing, quite controversial in its time...


NP: Yes?

MM: Quite.

NP: Yes. Quite. There were two quites. Yes well listened Maria. Thirty-six seconds for you on peeping toms starting now.

MM: Not many people know this but Nicholas Parsons in his previous career was indeed a peeping tom. He came to my hotel room when we were staying in a place called ah Norfolk and no er really, Norwich I mean...


NP: Might you well have dried up after that suggestion! Who challenged? It was you Wendy wasn't it?

WR: Yes.

NP: You got in first and there are 21 seconds for you on peeping toms...

WR: Oh is there that long? I wouldn't have stopped her if I'd known!

NP: I'm glad you stopped Maria the way she was going on the way she was going there with those absolutely slanderous remarks of hers! Right, 21 seconds peeping toms with you Wendy starting now.

WR: As far as I understand the origin of peeping tom comes from when Lady Godiva decided to ride through the streets of Coventry bareback literally, ie. no clothes on. All the folk decided that they would turn away and not...


NP: Ah yes Maria?

MM: Repetition of decided.

NP: You decided too much. She decided and all the folk decided. And Maria you got back in there are five seconds, peeping tom, starting now.

MM: He came to my hotel room dressed only...


WR: She said hotel room before!

NP: Four seconds for you Wendy on peeping tom starting now.

WR: But peeping Tom was the only one that actually turned to watch...


NP: Wendy Richard was again speaking as the whistle went and has again increased her lead at the end of that round. She's followed in equal second place by Maria McErlane and Linda Smith. But Maria would you like to take the next round. Dolphins is the subject, 60 seconds as usual, starting now.

MM: Dolphins must surely be some of the most beautiful creatures ever known to man and womankind. I have had the lucky misfortune... oh no! How can I have a lucky misfortune...


NP: It's a lovely thought isn't it? But who challenged first? Wendy what was your challenge?

WR: I think she was just starting to wander off into twaddle actually!

NP: Yes she suddenly realised it was a sort of misconception. I think they call it a tautology, you know, a lucky misfortune! Anyway it was also hesitation so there are 53 seconds available on dolphins with you Wendy starting now.

WR: Last year I was fortunate enough to go on a cruise on the QE2. And at certain parts of this cruise the ship...


NP: Yes?

MM: Two cruises.

NP: Two cruises yes. She was on the same cruise but she can't repeat the word, 47 seconds, Maria, dolphins, starting now.

MM: I managed to swim with the dolphins in the Red Sea. In fact not many people know this but after a horrid boating accident I was brought up by dolphins and am able to speak the dolphin langauge. E-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e!


WR: Repetition!

NP: That's the challenge of Just A Minute! You go for a laugh and make the e-e-e-e-e-e and it gets a laugh and then of course it's repetition!

MM: If you really spoke dolphin you'd know that they were all slightly different, those things.

NP: I know! But we don't have many dolphin speakers in the audience! Oh I don't know! That lady up there stood up! Oh she's a dolphin I'm so sorry! There are 33 seconds Wendy, dolphins, starting now.

WR: Following this craft as it sped through the Mediterranean. And to see these beautiful creatures leaping side and then over there, seeing this was really a terrific view for all on board...


NP: Steve you challenged.

SP: There was er a little bit of hesitation there! there was a definite hesitation there as well!

NP: Steve yes I agree with your hesitation, 18 seconds, tell us something about dolphins starting now.

SP: I have never understood how they train dolphins to balance those balls on the end of their beaky little noses. Do they...


NP: Yes why have you challenged?

LS: Hesitation.

NP: You hesitated, you waited for your laugh and it didn't come. But Linda correct challenge and you have 11 seconds on dolphins starting now.

LS: Dolphins are meant to be really clever but how bright are they? I think probably they're not as intelligent as Carol Waldeman but not as thick as Richard Whiteley! That is probably about the level...


NP: Oh Maria yes?

MM: Two probablys.

NP: Two probablys. You got your gag out and then you lost the thread. And Maria you got in with one second to go on dolphins and you begin now.

MM: Dolphins...


NP: Although the players can't see the clock and don't know they can often gauge it and if they cleverly get in just before the whistle, they get that extra point. It was Maria McErlane and she's moved forward into second place behind Wendy Richard. And Steve Punt, your turn to begin. Tongue in cheek. And don't pause because otherwise they may get you. And you have sixty seconds as usual starting now.

SP: Tongue in cheek is a phrase that is employed when you want to imply that you (starts to giggle)


LS: I'm sorry! It does feel a bit like drowning kittens! But that was a definite hesitation!

SP: What was wrong? come on, I challenge you! I challenge you! What was wrong with that?

LS: I challenge you to a game of Just A Minute!

NP: You did hesitate I'm afraid Steve..

SP: Do you know, I think I rather did!

NP: So Linda's got a correct challenge, tongue in cheek, and there are 55 seconds, Linda, starting now.

LS: Tongue in cheek these days is quite often a rather lewd reference to Monica Lewinsky. And I think the audience interrupted me then...


NP: Yes?

MM: I think she waited too long on the ooohh!

NP: I think she played up to them yes. You were riding the audience reaction but you had to carry on. But Maria you got in yes, 44 seconds on tongue in cheek starting now.

MM: Tongue in cheek must surely be the best place to keep it. Anywhere else quite frankly would be quite ridiculous because one wouldn't be able to speak or chew or look at Nicholas and go like this ye-e-e-e-e (pokes her tongue out)


NP: Wendy...

WR: Repetition of e-e-e-e-e-e-e!

NP: Wendy you have a correct challenge for repetition, 32 seconds available on tongue...

WR: Yeah I don't want it. Let me give it to Steve because I can't think of a word to say about tongue in cheek. But let's give him...

NP: Aren't they generous today. Steve me and Wendy would like to hear what you've got to say about tongue in cheek starting now.

SP: I don't need your pity. Thank you. Where are we?

NP: Hesitation.

SP: Tongue in cheek. I haven't started yet! Tongue in cheek!

NP: Keep going!

SP: Yes! Tongue in cheek is when you pretend that you don't know what you're saying is funny! Which is what I'm singularly failing to do here. Examples of this... no, I've lost it.


NP: Yes Linda?

LS: I think what's the matter Steve is that you've got Harold Pinter to write this for you, haven't you? It's full of these.

SP: My secret sound.

LS: Pauses.

NP: Yes I think he did hesitate...

LS: No actually Steve seriously, carry on because...

NP: I think for some slightly masochistic reason Steve they'd like you all to carry on with tongue in cheek. You've got 11 more seconds, see what you can do, starting now.

SP: Well tongue in cheek, I've never understood the derivation of this phrase, tongue in cheek, which I understand I'm allowed to repeat, because it seems to me that the cheek is an extremely difficult place to get your tongue. If you move it there...


NP: Well with the help of the other players Steve Punt kept going till the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. He has leapt forward, but he's still in fourth place. No, no don't laugh, because the others are only just ahead of him. Linda Smith and then Maria McErlane, but out in the lead still Wendy Richard. And Wendy your turn to begin. Etiquette, tell us something about that subject in Just A Minute starting now.

WR: It's amazing the number of people today that have no sense of etiquette whatsoever. When really etiquette should be just born into people as being good manners. I hope to think, I know I'd like to believe that I was brought up knowing etiquette. I think that there are books on etiquette and there...


NP: Linda?

LS: I wish you'd stop looking at me!

NP: I think it was a plea for help actually.

LS: I know!

NP: There was a bit of repetition...

LS: Like a fool I came to her aid!

NP: Well, etiquette, don't you want it? There are 40 seconds to try and go on that subject...

LS: I'll give it a go!

NP: ...starting now.

LS: Etiquette is the politeness of kings or is that punctuality? It may well be. I don't know. It's all generally good breeding...


NP: Yes what is it, what's your challenge?

WR: I think we were starting to hesitate a bit.

NP: Just a bit!

LS: Well I thought you didn't want it! Why are you buzzing? You're a fool to yourself Wendy!

WR: Well how long is there left?

NP: There are still 29 seconds available.

WR: Oh well go on, you finish it off then!

LS: You can't pick and choose!

NP: Would you like me to give it to Steve Punt again.

LS: Sorry Wendy you forget...

WR: No let her have it.

LS: No let Steve do it.

NP: This is the most generous show I've ever had. Steve you actually challenged but your light didn't come on...

SP: That's true yes!

NP: Because it was deviation.

SP: Yeah!

NP: She misquoted then because punctuality is the etiquette of kings.

SP: Right!

NP: And so well done, well listened. I thought you were in there very sharp. So you have the subject, 29 seconds on etiquette, starting now.

SP: Etiquette does derive from the British class structure and a lot of it is to do with royalty. One prime piece of etiquette for example is that one should never turn one's back on the Queen...


SP: And I said one's not one.

WR: Three, three ones.

NP: Three ones and three ones. One one they might let go, oh I mean two...

SP: One or two?

NP: Two, two yes, two would be repetition...

SP: Two would be repetition...

NP: Three would be over repetition....

SP: Three is just hopeless repetition isn't it.

NP: Right! We could do a double act on this, couldn't we? We wouldn't get many laughs on it! Wendy etiquette, 18 seconds still, etiquette, starting now.

WR: In all forms of show business, each one has its own etiquette. There is a different one for films, television, radio. And it is essential that one observes this etiquette....


NP: Maria?

MM: Repetition of one.

NP: Yes. You repeated one...

SP: It's a disease! Look at it, it's spread!

WR: We've got one of them...

NP: Yes see what you started Steve!

SP: Oh sorry!

NP: Right, six seconds for you Maria on etiquette starting now.

MM: It's appalling etiquette to eat, smoke or drink in the street. And never eat anything bigger than your head...


WR: Eat!

NP: Just before the whistle you challenged.

WR: Two eats!

NP: Yes you repeated eat. And one second for you Wendy on etiquette starting now.

WR: Etiquette...


NP: Wendy was trying to speak then as the whistle went but she still gets that extra point for being around when it did go and she has increased her lead at the end of the round. And Linda Smith your turn to begin. Being politically correct. Tell us something about that contentious subject in this game starting now.

LS: Nicholas Parsons is a charming and intelligent person! What am I doing? I'm being politically correct! If I were to be honest, I'd say Nicholas Parsons is an outrageous old lovey...


LS: ... who never gets his round in!

NP: Wendy you challenged.

WR: Yeah well first of all I mean I thought you'd gone off your head there, all that stuff you were talking about. Absolute twaddle. But she did say Nicholas Parsons twice.

NP: I know...

WR: I know you wouldn't have challenged for that because you like to see your name, don't you?

NP: And you never like to hear yours, do you Wendy?

WR: It depends where it's being called out!

NP: So even in Just A Minute you can't mention Nicholas Parsons more than once. So correct challenge, Wendy, and you have being politically correct 51 seconds starting now.

WR: I personally believe that politically correct has ruined a lot of really good comedy shows. Because you cannot get away with a lot of jokes you used to be able to before. And it's just spoiling the whole business. It's the same politically correct with children's books. I mean they're messing about with Noddy and Bigears! It's all wrong you know! They should leave these things! They never did previous generations any harm! Politically correct is unfortunately I think an illness of our time and would be best left to gather dust on some shelf! And if you don't stop gesturing them not to buzz me Nicholas I'll come round there and slap you!


NP: Well Maria has buzzed you.

WR: Thank you.

NP: Right.

MM: Only because you were in danger of sounding like Mary Whitehouse!

NP: Right there are 13 seconds...

MM: Wait! Ooooh! Tell me the subject.

NP: It's all right, I'll give you a moment to gather your thoughts. It's about being politically correct starting now.

MM: I happen to believe that being politically correct is very much in evidence on this indeed programme. Because (starts to giggle)


MM: This indeed programme!

NP: Wendy?

WR: A bit of twaddle and a bit of hesitation.

NP: Well I think deviation from grammar or English as we usually speak it.

MM: English isn't my first language.

NP: Isn't it? What is...

MM: Dolphin is my first language!

NP: Give Maria an extra point, we loved that! But Wendy you had a correct challenge, you have six seconds, being politically correct, starting now.

WR: I personally don't like having to be politically correct. I feel one should be able to speak the mind...


NP: Wendy Richard speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point, has increased her lead. In fact she's got a very strong lead at the end of that round. Maria McErlane is coming second and then Linda Smith and then Steve Punt in that order. Maria McErlane your turn to begin. Agony aunts, tell us about those. Do you know one that doesn't speak dolphin? Sixty seconds, starting now.

MM: Agony aunts quite frankly are rather annoying. They always say will you do that for me, love? Or please get back in touch when you've done the thing that I told you to do. My own agony aunts are Aunty Betty frankly who says things like have you got a boyfriend yet? Or haven't you got a, here's 50p, go and get yourself an ice cream. That sort of thing. Clearly talking rubbish now aren't I... (starts to giggle)


NP: Steve what's your challenge?

SP: Um...

MM: He's helping me.

SP: Deviation on a massive global scale.

NP: No need to rub it in!

WR: Where can you get an ice cream for 50p?

MM: Well that's why my aunts are mad, you see, living in the dark ages still.

WR: Oh!

NP: Right so Steve, correct challenge, agony aunts is with you, there are 37 seconds, starting now.

SP: Agony aunts are largely becoming a thing of the past. They're being superceded by chat shows in which they have no role because people shout at each other on all sorts of strange problems and social deviancies. They're also disappearing from newspapers and magazines being replaced by columns where the readers write in with their own solutions to the agony-ised things which...


WR: I think you were struggling a bit there with your hesitation...

NP: Yes we call that hesitation Wendy. So you got in on agony aunts and there are 16 seconds to tell us something about them starting now.

WR: The columns of agony aunts in various periodicals are usually the first thing that a lot of people turn to, and then sit and read through it all, and go oooh isn't that dreadful, how are they going to manage, oooh, I wouldn't do what that agony aunt said...


NP: Maria you challenged.

MM: Ooooh! Ooooooh!

NP: Repetition of oooh. Maria you listened well, you have four seconds to tell us something more about agony aunts starting now.

MM: Agony aunts were very helpful to me when my problem with dolphins suddenly arose...


NP: Maria McErlane's delightful comment then brought that round to a close which gave her an extra point for speaking as the whistle went. Let me give you the final situation. Steve Punt finished up in a strong fourth place. And then came Linda Smith and then Maria McErlane. But way out ahead of them was Wendy Richard. Wendy you are the winner today! So we hope you enjoyed this edition of Just A Minute. It only remains for me to say thank you to our four delightful fun players of this game, Maria McErlane, Steve Punt, Wendy Richard and Linda Smith. From them, from me, Nicholas Parsons, tune in to your television sets, the next time we play Just A Minute. Till them from all of us, goodbye.