starring PAUL MERTON, JENNY ECLAIR, FRED MacAULAY and STEPHEN K. AMOS, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 15 February 2010)

NOTE: Stephen K. Amos's only 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 abroad. But also to welcome to the programme four exciting, talented, humorous, wonderful players of this game. And they are, seated on my right, Paul Merton and Fred MacAulay. And seated on my left, Stephen K. Amos and Jenny Eclair. Will you 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 will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Beside me sits Sarah Sharpe, she will help me keep the score, she will blow the whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from a building called the Pleasance Grand which is part of the Pleasance Complex up here at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. And we have a delightful, excited Festival Fringe audience here. Let's begin the show with Jenny Eclair. Jenny the subject here is the secret of my success. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

JENNY ECLAIR: The secret of my success is so secret no-one's ever bothered to tell me. I think it might hover around the fact that I look a bit like Su Pollard and some people think I did Hi De Hi. Never did, I get the credit for all her work...


NP: Paul challenged.

PAUL MERTON: Sadly, repetition of Hi.

JE: Oh no!

NP: Yeah.

JE: I never watch the programme, I thought it was spelled Hi De Hi and the second Hi was H-I-G-H. I didn't know.

NP: No, no, no, it's H-I.

JE: Isn't it funny that just before we started the show Paul was backstage saying "let's try not to be pett˙".

NP: No let's be fair Jenny...

PM: I was doing it until Hi De Hi, you know.

NP: Let's be fair, that was clever, a clever challenge in Just A Minute.

JE: Yes yes.

NP: I'm going to pause there and take my jacket off, it's very hot in here. Right, talk amongst yourselves.

JE: (in tune of The Stripper) Da-da-da-da-da da-da-da-da-da.

PM: No you don't know what you're asking for. Calm yourselves!

NP: Right there we are.

JE: Nicholas is now down to a G-string.

NP: It could get to that. Anyway Paul a correct challenge, you take over the subject, there are 46 seconds available, the secret of my success starting now.

PM: If I have any success it's down to the quality of the people I work with. Look at Jenny Eclair, this marvellous Su Pollard look-alike, who mentioned the programme that she was in before, but she is so much more talented than that. She won a major award up here at the Edinburgh Festival, some time ago. The first female comedian, I believe, to win the ultimate prize. And here she is now, in front of us. The secret of her success. What is the secret of my success? I told you it's about working with good people. That's repetition.


NP: And Jenny you spotted it first.

JE: Yes he's working with people again. I don't know, nobody really wants to work with him! But he's repeated himself yes.

NP: You got the subject back again Jenny and you've got a point for a correct challenge and you have 18 seconds, the secret of my success starting now.

JE: Is timing. When I started there were no other girl comics. Great, I got all the work! Now there's hundreds of them. Brings me out in a terrible sweat just thinking, how am I going to get rid of them? All getting all the things...


JE: Oh I said all. Yes I know, I know.

NP: Fred you challenged.

FRED MacAULAY: Yes I'm going to agree with Jenny there, she did say something twice.

JE: But what was it Fred? What was it?

NP: What was it though Fred?

FM: It's a secret!

NP: No she did repeat something so Fred you have a correct challenge, you have a point for that of course and you have four seconds only...

JE: Oh!

NP: Oh! The secret of my success starting now.

FM: I doubt if I've got enough time to tell you the secret of my success because it ah...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Fred MacAulay so naturally Fred is in the lead at the end of the round. Stephen K. Amos we'd like you to begin the next round, the subject is small talk. Would you like to talk on the subject, 60 seconds starting now.

STEPHEN K. AMOS: Small talk, well that's something I'm not familiar with, because I am well-known raconteur. I can speak for hours on many different subjects, including my own family whom I can't stand. We went through life kind of ignoring each other and that's how we've done everything. Just making sure...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Deviation, this isn't really small talk, is it. It's kind of spilling his emotional guts about his family! I mean if you're talking about small talk, I don't think that you should bring the fact that you hate your family into it. That's not polite small talk.

NP: No small talk is chitter chatter, isn't it.

JE: Chitter chatter.

SKA: I think you'll find around my family Christmas table, we do do that and that's small talk! Thank you!

JE: I think, I think it's up to Nicholas to decide.

SKA: And bearing in mind Nicholas, this is my first time on this programme.

PM: Also bearing in mind Jenny's complaints about being challenged before.

JE: The pettiness.

PM: The pettiness of it yes.

NP: What I'm going to do Stephen...

PM: Do you remember that bit, the pettiness? Do you remember?

NP: I'm going to take note of what you said Stephen, I'm going to say yes it is the first time you've been on the show. And um Jenny's was almost justified but I give her a bonus point because I think her challenge was justified. But you get a point because you were interrupted and you keep the subject, try and keep it to small talk but talk about small talk starting now.

SKA: Small talk, it's so annoying when little petty people pick up on little bitty... owww!


NP: Yeah?

JE: May I be the little petty person.

NP: Yeah.

JE: That picked up on the little.

NP: Petty people.

JE: Two little pettys.

NP: You were trying to be a little too clever there Stephen. And you slipped up, right. Jenny a correct challenge, 33 seconds, tell us something about small talk starting now.

JE: The secret to small talk is asking questions. What's your favourite colour? Do you have children? Would you like an olive? Also if you are at a party where small talk is going to occur, load your plate up with vol au vens. You might as well stuff your face as somebody in a golfing jumper bores you rigid about his labrador's cataract operation. I'm not the type of woman to get invited to parties where small talk goes on...


NP: So Jenny Eclair was then speaking as the whistle went, gained the extra point. And she's now, with the other points in the round, she's now in the lead at the end of the round. And Fred we'd like you to begin the next round. I don't know whether this is something up your street, but tell us something about it, it's pointless inventions. Sixty seconds starting now.

FM: I'm sure the audience here and the listeners at home will remember the enthusiasm that we all had at Christmas time when Roncold Ketail would have advertisements on television with the pointless inventions. My favourite thing was the Brush-o-matic which if you brushed in one direction gathered up all the dust. And then if you put it the other way, it put it all back down again. Utterly pointless! The wheel...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: A slight hesitation.

NP: A definite hesitation. So Paul you got in on the subject and there are 36 seconds available, pointless inventions starting now.

PM: Invention is all down to a question of timing. If the car had been invented before the train, would somebody have come up with the idea of the locomotive. Equally television, if that had emerged in our society before radio, would anyone have bothered to invent...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: I'm very sorry Paul, two befores.

NP: Two befores.

PM: Yes good.

NP: The car before that.

PM: Yeah no.

FM: Isn't it called four by twos? I never heard of a wooden interjection before.

NP: Well tried Fred, we enjoyed that.

FM: Thank you.

NP: Not quite enough to give you a bonus point. But we enjoyed it. Right Jenny you have a correct challenge, another point to you, 21 seconds, pointless inventions starting now.

JE: Silicon breasts, they're pointless. What's wrong with putting socks in your bra? The trouble with those...


NP: Fred challenged.

FM: That might be deviation, I've seen silicon injections that have been pointful.

PM: Yeah.

NP: A difficult decision. Well I don't wear bras so I'm not quite sure.

JE: Oh Nicholas!

NP: I have of course, I've played Dame in pantomime. Yes so, I don't think that's a pointless invention.

JE: I'll tell you why I think that's pointless.

NP: Yeah.

JE: Because the silicon breast is not biodegradable. So in years to come there are going to be landfill sites full of indestructible tits.

PM: That could be the subject for an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical! I'd be willing to invest money into it!

NP: I think some...

PM: The Call Of The Valley.

NP: I think some people do psychologically benefit from having their breasts enlarged. So I don't think I can allow it Jenny. So Fred, correct challenge, pointless inventions, 16 seconds starting now.

FM: The beach ball, that's another pointless invention. Rather like the globe in which we all live, this planet, there is a compass that directs us around the planet, there are many...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: There was two planets.

NP: There were two planets yes.

JE: I don't think Stephen K. Amos's buzzer is working.

NP: Well do you want to try it?

SKA: Either that or Nicholas has gone colour blind because I was definitely doing that and nothing happened.

NP: Press your buzzer now.


NP: You see?

JE: Yes you're just slowly Stephen. I was trying to help, you know.

NP: You're just a little slow on the draw.

SKA: Well I, I apologise.

NP: Hold it in your hand all the time Stephen.

SKA: No I do! That's part of the problem!

NP: Are we ready? Paul you had the correct challenge, I believe, seven seconds, pointless inventions staring now.

PM: Raspberry jelly that doesn't taste like anything is one of the worst inventions you could imagine. Have a look at the...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went and he has gained that extra point for doing so. And we are moving on. Who is in the lead, it is Jenny still, then Paul Merton and then Fred MacAulay and then Stephen K. Amos in that order. Paul we'd like you to begin the next round. Oh this is interesting, my unfinished screenplay. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PM: I suppose I do have an unfinished screenplay. I refer it to preferably as a work in progress rather than an unfinished screenplay, that sounds rather pessimistic as if the thing will never be finished. I am currently making a show for the British Broadcasting Corporation about the birth of Hollywood which will go out on the second channel, summer time...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Deviation, this has become a plug.

PM: And I haven't finished the screenplay for the show.

NP: Even if it's a plug, he's still not deviating from the subject on the card. So he's entitled to say that.

JE: Sorry I let my jealousy...

NP: As long as I can mention that my memoirs are coming out this week.

PM: Yeah, Just In Time. How dare you! What an insult!

NP: And you're mentioned in them, Paul.

PM: Am I?

NP: Yes.

PM: Favourably?

NP: Favourably.

PM: That's nice.

NP: Very favourably.

PM: Really?

NP: So I'll give you a signed copy.

PM: Oh how lovely.

NP: Lovely yes.

PM: That will be straight on Ebay.

NP: So an incorrect challenge Paul, 43 seconds, my unfinished screenplay starting now.

PM: It is a long-held ambition to one day make a cinematic film for the cinema. It would be wonderful to sit there with the audience if indeed it was a successful movie of course. Because the history of the motion picture is littered with massive turkeys. Many people, particularly British comedians, have tried to make longer entertainment for theatrical release. But it doesn't always work because the extent of the half hour sketch show to be stretched further than that takes more than just repeating the same stuff three times. One has to have a proper plot, understandable characters, a story which grabs the audience's interest and takes them all...


PM: Who challenged then? Who challenged then?

NP: Jenny challenged.

PM: Oh I bet I can guess who it was. Who was it?

NP: You were really going then.

PM: I don't know why we have Su Pollard on this show.

JE: It's Little Miss Petty!

PM: Hello.

JE: Audiences.

FM: It's a shame you interrupted. I was just about to give him a commission! Yeah I was going to come up with the funding, yeah.

PM: So close!

FM: Two million from the BFI.

NP: Unfortunately you did mention audiences Paul.

PM: Yeah I'm sure I did.

NP: Right so Jenny got in with five seconds to go. You haven't gained any friends by that challenge.

JE: I don't care!

PM: She hasn't got any anyway!

NP: You have, well, there are friendly people in the audience. My unfinished screenplay Jenny, five seconds starting now.

JE: My unfinished screenplay stars a plucky 50-year-old woman...


NP: So Jenny was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And she's increased her lead at the end of the round, just two ahead of Paul Merton. And so Jenny we'd like you to begin the next round. This is a subject you can take many different ways. A brave heart, 60 seconds starting now.

JE: A brave heart doesn't give up on a good fight. It's also the title of a film starring that ghastly creature, Mel Gibson, who is not...


NP: Fred challenged.

FM: Sorry I think that's deviation, the film was not A Brave Heart, it was Braveheart.

JE: Yeah you're right.

FM: So I think that given that I'm...

JE: Pettiness is kind of catching.

FM: I'm coming in for the word a.

PM: Yes.

FM: Which I think might give me the title of pedant of the programme!

NP: No, you had a correct challenge.

FM: Excellent.

NP: Yes. It might be pedantic but you got a correct challenge.

FM: And have I got about four seconds to go?

NP: No you've got 50 seconds.

FM: Oh dear!

JE: If only you'd waited!

NP: Yeah there's a Scotsman, he's going to talk about a brave heart starting now.

FM: Who can forget that at the end of the film that Mel Gibson was in, the impassioned plea when he said "patriots of Scotland, starving, outnumbered in the year of our Lord 1314, charge the fields of Bannockburn"? They fought like Scotsmen, they fought like patriots and...


SKA: Sorry!

NP: Stephen you challenged.

SKA: I'm sure that you said the word fought twice.

FM: I did.

NP: He did.

FM: We're Scotsmen, we'll fight three, four times.

NP: And you will be...

FM: Do you want something of it.

NP: You fought hard to get through on that one! It was a brave attempt. Stephen K. Amos, you've got the subject, a point of course, 34 seconds available, a brave heart starting now.

SKA: A brave heart is what the constitution of man needs. For us all to move on with the advancement of humankind, we must all look inside ourselves and find the strength to give our news and our love to the young people coming behind us. Because if we don't the whole planet will implode. There will be no-one left here to take on the message. Keep the young children, keep them...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Young and keep the.

NP: I think you did, I think you did us a favour with that challenge actually. It was an impassioned plea... yes?

FM: I was just thinking that if the English had had a speech like that at Bannockburn, it would have been a right heavy defeat.

PM: Who for?

NP: So Jenny, correct challenge and there are only eight seconds available...

SKA: You evil witch! That was mine!

NP: Yes.

JE: I'm sure you can get it back.

SKA: Don't you worry.

PM: She, she needs to win!

NP: A brave heart is with you Jenny, eight seconds starting now.

JE: People say you need a brave heart to do stand-up comedy. I refute this fact. Most comedians...


NP: So Jenny Eclair was again speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, she's increased her lead at the end of the round. And Stephen K. Amos, we're back with you, we'd like you to begin the next round. Oh the subject here, human anatomy, 60 seconds starting now.

SKA: The human anatomy is a strange thing. But in my particular case I'm very very pleased that there are some stereotypes that I can live with. Basically when people ask me about what I may possess betwen my thighs...


FM: We all know what I was trying to do there!

PM: We thank you on behalf of the Radio Four listeners!

JE: We were so trying to be kind.

NP: I should explain to our listeners that guffawing laughter was not from the audience, it was Stephen K. Amos! Laughing at what he said and his own embarrassment!

SKA: It was total embarrassment. I was going to go somewhere quite intelligent and highbrow but... oh no!

NP: You challenged first Fred.

FM: Yeah but I have no idea what I challenged for, I'm afraid. Maybe deviation.

NP: Maybe deviation?

SKA: What are you saying? That I am not a man?

NP: No it wasn't deviation from human anatomy.

FM: In that case it's an incorrect challenge and we can go back to Stephen's thighs. I was going to say on your own head be it, Nicholas!

PM: But can he stretch it over a minute? That's the question!

JE: We could have had him for the very very in the first sentence.

NP: I know.

JE: We let that go.

NP: They were all very generous.

PM: We decided not to, Jenny, because it seemed kinder.

NP: You did say very very which is a very easy way when you have not played the game very often before. But you were all generous and let him have his way with that one. he's got his way with this one as well. And I wonder where it's going now. Forty-two seconds Stephen on human anatomy starting now.

SKA: Human anatomy is a subject I studied at school, encapsulating the whole nature and biology of human beings. Basically I found myself playing with dolls like the Action Man...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Only because he was hesitating.

NP: Yeah he was hesitating.

SKA: Oh.

NP: And there was a definite er there Stephen actually.

SKA: I use that word!

NP: You may er, you've erred already. But not in that sense. I love the idea of you playing with dolls so I think that was very sweet.

JE: I thought it was getting quite dark at that point, yeah.

NP: Twenty-five seconds available Jenny, human anatomy starting now.

JE: Human anatomy is the study of the human form. By that I do not mean the ogling of young women and their breasts...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Sorry, I completely lost what we were talking about. What was that?

NP: Paul got a point for that because we enjoyed what he said. Jenny an incorrect challenge, you have 13 seconds, human anatomy starting now.

JE: Peel back the skin, what have you got? Flesh then bone, that's the skeleton. Here are some things you could label on that boney...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: It was slowing down.

NP: It was, it was definite hesitation.

PM: Hesitation.

JE: That was very welcome Paul.

NP: It was getting, getting to the realm of rubbish as well.

JE: It was slow rubbish.

PM: Let's face it, it's never a long journey for this show! It's only around the corner.

NP: So Paul you got in with three seconds to go, human anatomy starting now.

PM: If you take the human form, human anatomy you can...


NP: So Paul was then speaking as the whistle went and he gained that extra point for doing so. He's creeping up on our leader who is still Jenny Eclair and then it's Stephen K. Amos and Fred MacAulay in that order. And Jenny we'd like you to begin the next round, my inheritance. Can you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

JE: My inheritance includes a chain of hotels all around the world. Oh sorry, I've confused myself with Paris Hilton again! Don't you just hate it when that happens! My inheritance from my Dad is extra large knees. Bobbly long joints in the middle of my legs. From my mother I have thin hair and a certain waspish quality. Let's just not think inheritance is only about money. It can be personal goods gifted. My grandmother's bacon scissors, a button box from an agent... agent aunt?


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: It was a shame, it was going so well. Hesitation.

NP: There was a hesitation.

JE: Yes.

NP: Yes Jenny.

JE: I mentioned my agent aunt. I shouldn't mention that because she was with MI5 and it's all very secret.

NP: So my inheritance is the subject Paul, we're back with you, 20 seconds starting now.

PM: When I look around at my inheritance I say to my mother and father, they live in a nice house in Ireland. It's particularly small but it's okay. That would be something I would inherit, I suppose. I've not gone through life thinking about what my inheritance should be. Perhaps one day I will walk through this proud city at the head of a parade where people will say to me, Paul Merton, this is your inheritance, you deserve it. But until that day happens...


NP: So Paul Merton kept going with great aplomb until the end. Oh and he's now overtaken Jenny Eclair, he's one ahead in the lead. And we're coming into the final round.

JE: I always do this, I peak too early.

NP: I usually expect more than that when I use those words.

JE: I always peak too early in this game.

NP: No no, no you haven't. No your peak was great and it's lovely. And ah...

JE: They're not silicon.

NP: No, Stephen K. Amos in third and then Fred MacAulay in fourth. But their contributions are all great and the points are...

SKA: You home crowd.

FM: Can I just ask Nicholas, is there still everything to play for?

PM: Yes.

NP: Stephen we'd like you to begin this next round, oh a very poetic and very historic subject, a gathering storm. Apt for Edinburgh, isn't it. Sixty seconds starting now.

SKA: A gathering storm is something that could happen in this very theatre if nobody managed to make sure that Jenny Eclair does not win this game. I will go absolutely angry. I am being pinched right now by this woman, this vixen, this blonde-haired glasses-wearing witch!


PM: That is repetition of witch from the previous round!

NP: So Fred you challenged first.

FM: There were two thises.

NP: Yeah there were two thises. Tough challenge but correct Fred, so you have another point and you have 41 seconds, a gathering storm Fred starting now.

FM: Just looking over Arthur's Seat earlier today, I could see the clouds beginning to roll in from the Firth of Forth. They were dark, they were dooming, they were laden with rain...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: There was a lot of theys, one after the other.

NP: There were, there were.

FM: Sadly.

NP: It's a difficult game.

FM: It is a difficult game yes. Well not for people who can play it.

PM: No it's always difficult, it's always difficult.

NP: It's always difficult even if you can play it. I should concentrate on The News Quiz if I were you!

PM: He says the same to me! He says the same to me!

NP: I only said that because I want people to know how excellent you are in that particular show. It's always...

PM: In comparison to?

NP: Well me, because I've never been asked to do it. Right so there are 31 seconds, who challenged? It was Paul.

PM: Yeah.

NP: On a gathering storm starting now.

PM: Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. The British Government looked on askance. Winston Churchill knew that there was a gathering storm, war clouds over Europe. But the Prime Minister of the day, Neville Chamberlain, thought that a policy of appeasement towards this dictator was the way to go. But the afore-mentioned great British hero realised that when he came to power, there was to be no more mollycoddling of Hitler. We had to confront him! We stood alone in 1940. We must never forget that until...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: I held off until the third we.

PM: I admire your restraint. The effort must have killed you!

JE: It nearly did.

NP: Oh he was going so well.

JE: I know.

NP: It was so patriotic.

PM: Yeah.

NP: This audience were about to get on their feet, to follow him down the Royal Mile.

JE: I'll make sure I hesitate when I start. I'll hesitate and let Paul take it back and then he can go on.

NP: No. Because it was a correct challenge.

PM: Yeah.

NP: And if I'm fair within the rules of Just A Minute, you've got a point for that and it's going to be a very interesting result because there's only two seconds to go. So...


PM: I think you should go as long as you could Jenny.

NP: So within the rules of Just A Minute, Jenny you're correct, you have the subject, two seconds, a gathering storm starting now.

JE: A gathering storm is...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well deviation, she said she was going to start with a hesitation and she didn't.

NP: Paul got a point for that because we enjoyed what he said. Jenny's got a point because she was interrupted. A gathering storm, one second Jenny, starting now.

JE: Never read it!


NP: So let me give you the final situation, very interesting one actually. Stephen K. Amos who has never played the game before, Fred MacAulay who has only played it occasionally, both came equal together in second place. And we have two people ahead of them with the same number of points so we say they are the joint winners, Paul Merton and Jenny Eclair! So it only remains for me to say thank you to these four fine players, these exciting and talented players of the game, Paul Merton, Fred MacAulay, Jenny Eclair and Stephen K. Amos. I thank Sarah Sharpe who has helped me with the score, blown her whistle so delicately when the 60 seconds elapsed. We thank our producer Tilusha Ghelani. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And from our audience here at the Festival Fringe at the Pleasance, who have cheered us on our way. We've enjoyed ourselves, they've enjoyed themselves, I hope the listeners have enjoyed themselves. And will tune in again at the same time when we play Just A Minute!