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 around the world. But also to welcome to the programme four diverse, delightful and dynamic players of this game. A real dream team who are going to show their skill and dexterity with words and language as they try and speak on a subject that I give them and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And those four bright sparks are, seated on my right Paul Merton and Tony Hawks. And seated on my left, Sue Perkins and Graham Norton. Please welcome all four of them! And seated beside me is Sarah Sharpe, who is going to help me keep the score, and 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 we are going to begin the show this week with Tony Hawks. Tony, what an interesting subject, how to tell if someone is older than they look. Sixty seconds available and you start now.

TONY HAWKS: Usually people are pretty rubbish at looking youthful. They try too hard. Jet black hair, ponytails, unfeasibly trendy clothes. Rock stars do this, refuse to grow old with grace. And these are the tell-tale signs to spot that someone is older than they look. It's not a skill you really need in life. A bouncer at a nightclub might need to be able to do this...


NP: Sue challenged.

SUE PERKINS: Repetition of need.

NP: Yes you need, you don't really need.

TH: Yes yes yeah.

NP: And a bouncer might need. Right 36 seconds are still available, Sue you get a point for a correct challenge, you take over the subject and it's how to tell if someone is older than they look and you start now.

SP: Shake them vigorously and if their ears fall off they are older than they look. Also you can anecdotalise about the war, any one, it doesn't matter. All conflicts that take place between 1850 and 1920, if they remember them, they are older than they look. It's a lovely thing to grow old and age gracefully. Yet in modern society, it's always something that we try and run away from. Youth is the only thing that one must cling to. And for some reason we all hold to this principle. What's wrong with seeing the years go by in...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. And it was Sue Perkins and she is the only one to have scored any points in that round. Graham we would like you to begin the next round and the subject is cupboard love. Tell us something about this subject in this game starting now.

GRAHAM NORTON: I am confronted by cupboard love every morning when I meet my dogs, Bailey and Madge. For a few moments, they pretend to like me. Then I feed them and they forget all about me for the rest of the day. Bailey in particular, thanks for asking...


GN: Oh I...

NP: Right Tony you challenged.

TH: Yes unfortunately he told us the name of his dog twice, Bailey.

NP: Yes that's right so...

GN: The poor dog now is looking at the radio going "what what what what what".

NP: Tony, a correct challenge, a point to you, cupboard love is the subject, 44 seconds available starting now.

TH: I have been in love with several cupboards over the years! The one under the stairs, how alluring and beautiful it was with its lovely veneer, my, catch my eyes...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Hesitation.

NP: No no he was...

SP: It was a stumblance.

TH: My would catch my eye.

SP: My eye.

NP: A slight stumble but not enough I think to interpret as hesitation Sue. So the benefit of the doubt and if I can get a chance to you know...

SP: Oh I hope so Nicholas!

NP: I give you a benefit...

SP: Twelve years I've been doing this show, I do hope so.

NP: Thirty-four seconds Tony, cupboard love starting now.

TH: It's often used an an expression meaning people aren't really sincere about their love. I believe it was a cat who did it originally, sitting by the cupboard, looking longingly, knowing that there was food within. And now we humans, cleverly, have taken this little moment of pet life and we use it in our own in order to express ourselves in meaning to other people without...


TH: I haven't finished.

NP: Paul.

PAUL MERTON: Well at times it sounded like he was going to say something but... it was just endless nonsense of not pinning down to anything. About how as human beings we should be discovering about cats...

TH: I was not struggling, I could have gone for hours.

PM: Yes. That's the chief reason why I buzzed.

NP: So Paul, correct challenge, 10 seconds available, cupboard love starting now.

PM: I remenber the day I first came out of the closet. That was really what you understand by cupboard love when I was growing up. As a small boy I said to my parents, "I am..."


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's equal with Sue in second place, Tony Hawks is in the lead. And Paul we'd like you to start the next round, the subject, sliced bread. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PM: Well people say it's the best thing since sliced bread. I don't know if that's such a good invention that we should compare everything else to this moment in human history when we no longer had a full loaf that we bought from the bakers, but in fact we could get one that was sliced. Imagine the man hours or indeed the woman 60 minutes that were saved by the fact that you don't have to get hold of the sharpest blade you can find or indeed cut into the crusty exterior, because somebody in a factory in Tokyo does it for nothing. It's all being produced in Japan. The bread we eat today hasn't seen British wheat since 1948. And I want you to help me march on 10 Downing Street...


PM: ... with this nonsense in our head!

NP: Tony you challenged.

TH: Security!

NP: Tony we enjoyed the interruption, we give you a bonus point for the humour you supplied. But I don't think Paul was actually...

TH: Can I go for deviation or not?

NP: Well you said something else then.

TH: Well I just said one word, I thought I might be able to go on.

NP: All right then, what, what's the challenge?

TH: Well I don't think all the bread we eat is made in Tokyo.

NP: I would agree with you.

GN: I see what you mean Tony.

SP: Yeah I knew there was something about that statement that was a bit wrong.

GN: Right it might be stale...

SP: I know.

NP: And I'm amazed no-one challenged sooner...

TH: Well it was funny.

PM: Well the baps come from Taiwan.

NP: That just displays the generosity of the other players in this game. Paul was going so well and we loved it so much, they let him carry on with that fiction about our bread being made in Tokyo. So Tony, correct challenge, 15 seconds, sliced bread starting now.

TH: I believe that sliced bread might have been introduced as a conservation method, making people eat less bread because it was sliced. I know they're a very learned panel and if this is wrong, they will surely correct...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Wrong!

SP: It's wrong, yeah it's wrong sadly!

PM: It's wrong, very wrong.

SP: Yeah so that's yeah deviation from truth.

NP: You haven't got a challenge in other words.

SP: It's wrong.

GN: No he said it's wrong.

SP: It's wrong.

NP: Wrong yes it's wrong.

SP: It's deviation.

TH: Whoa whoa whoa I didn't say it was wrong.

SP: Well we're a learned panel, you said.

TH: I said if the panel thought it was wrong...

GN: We'd buzz in and stop you and we did.

NP: So what is your challenge.

TH: You've still got to have a challenge.

SP: He deviated.

GN: He deviated, that isn't why they introduced sliced bread.

SP: No.

NP: No you're quite right.

TH: What do you mean it isn't? I think it is. There's probably one very learned person here who will have the courage to stand up and say Tony Hawks is right and he deserves justice.

PM: And it doesn't matter if you've been sectioned under the Mental Health Act! It's not an issue here!

NP: Is anybody going to volunteer?


GN: Are you taking the word of that man?

SP: The strangled cries of a Tokyo baker!

NP: No I think he's the one that's been sectioned. Right so an incorrect challenge Tony, keep the subject, you have three seconds, sliced bread starting now.

TH: I have my own slicer at home, there's nothing I like more...


NP: So Tony Hawks was speaking then as the whistle went, gained that extra point and has increased his lead at the end of the round. And actually Tony we're back with you to start and the subject now is on your uppers. So will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

TH: During the war when there was conservation and people were short of bread and used to slice it up, they were on their uppers, you could argue. And the expression, I believe, comes from some...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: You don't really mean conservation, you mean rationing.

TH: Did I say conservation?

PM: You said conservation, there was conservation during the war.

TH: Yeah. That's what...

PM: They weren't deliberately saving bread. In case the Germans got hold of it, you know.

NP: No I think that's a good challenge.

PM: Yeah so do I.

NP: Yes.

SP: The English Bread Heritage Committee!

NP: Forty-nine seconds, on your uppers Paul, with you starting now.

PM: On your uppers! (starts to laugh)


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Hesitation.

NP: Yes he couldn't get going. Forty-eight seconds Sue, on your uppers starting now.

SP: You're down on your luck when you're on your uppers and everyone knows what it's like to be in that situation. Just outside as people were filing in, I was playing the flute for food, because frankly BBC rules have changed and we're all entitled to upwards of three pounds 50 per day we spend working on Just A Minute. On your uppers is a phrase I believe, and I say this with as much authority as Tony Hawks does on sliced bread, that comes from round about the 1920s, the halcyon days of making up expressions that don't really have any meaning. And you certainly can't quantify when forced to in a panel environment. When I say I am on my uppers I mean that potentially I am talking about something about which I know nothing whatsoever but I will carry on relentlessly. Because I've got pluck and spirit in spite of the fact I am on my uppers. It doesn't matter, I hear you cry, how much she goes on and...


NP: Well Sue Perkins was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. She's moved forward, she's just two points behind Tony Hawks who is still our leader. And Sue we're back with you to begin and the subject now is first nights. Can you take it, you can take the subject any way you like, first nights starting now.

SP: A first night is a pressure cooker environment for an actor. That rarefied mammal who works upwards of three hours a week. It is an exhausting profession as we all know. You build towards the first night. You have rehearsed for three or four days with men and women you cannot stand in a play that is absolutely impenetrable and pointless. You perform it for the first time, in front of a crowd who are waiting nervously thinking they have come to see Cats and where are the people with whiskers? Instead they are fixing this Brechtian spectacle. But you wait because after the first night come the reviews and actors say "I don't care..."


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Repetition of actors I'd say.

NP: Yes, you had the actors before.

SP: I did.


NP: And I don't...

GN: I didn't drown a kitten! I just buzzed in!

NP: Anyway Graham, correct challenge, first nights with you, 16 seconds starting now.

GN: The worst thing about first nights is when you have to go backstage and meet the people who performed. What the hell do you say to them? Because really...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well you did it again!

SP: Wonderful isn't the word!

GN: My favourite one is "what about you"!

PM: Yeah.

SP: I had one once that was just "heeeyyyyyyyy" and he went on for ages. That was it, just the word hey.

GN: Oh it is a hard part, isn't it!

NP: Somebody came backstage once and said "I did love the music at the interval"!

PM: And that was Queen Victoria!

NP: And that was Paul Merton, getting another of his cheap laughs at my expense, but he says it, he says it with such affection. Right where are we, who challenged who? Let's get back to Just A Minute.

PM: I said, when he said you don't know what to say and I said "well what about you?"

NP: What about you, give him a bonus point, right! You were interrupted, you get a point...

GN: I was doing the talking, I was doing the talking.

NP: Seven seconds, first night starting now.

GN: The good thing about first nights is...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Ah well we had the worst thing and then the best, ah the good thing.

GN: Yeah that's why it's not repetition!

NP: It is.

GN: I'm saying a different thing.

NP: Yes the thing...

SP: The thing, the thing.

GN: Oh! The thing was repetition! Curses!

NP: Repetition of thing.

SP: Now you know what it feels like Graham.

NP: Tony a correct challenge, a point to you and first nights, and five seconds available starting now.

TH: You have to get the correct euphemism when you burst into the changing rooms...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: It's deviation, it's dressing rooms, not changing rooms.

SP: Yeah.

PM: You don't go backstage into the changing rooms, do you.

SP: You don't put your foot in a foot spa.

PM: Dressing rooms.

NP: And you did get in just before the whistle.

PM: Yeah.

NP: So that is a correct challenge. So we give you a point for a correct challenge and the subject and you've got quarter of a minute...

PM: Quarter of a minute?

NP: On the first night starting now.

PM: Nurse!


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, gained the extra point with others in the round. Tony Hawks is still in the lead, one ahead of Paul Merton, then Sue Perkins and Graham Norton in that order. And Graham we are back with you, London Bridge. Tell us something about that famous bridge in this game starting now.

GN: Although London Bridge does its job of joining the north bank to the south bank of the river...


NP: Ohhh!

GN: South bank, all one word. I've seen it written down, it's all one word.

NP: That's only when you work there. And you were making it quite clear that south bank, it's the different banks. So Sue you got in there first, 53 seconds, London Bridge starting now.

SP: London Bridge is falling down goes the famous nursery rhyme, and indeed the actual architectural state of the structure itself. But who cares? It's never going to get fixed as long as you can do the walky thing over it without it falling down around you then no-one's really going to care...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Repetition of falling down.

NP: Falling down.

PM: Oh yeah.

SP: Yes.

GN: Yeah Sue!

SP: Yes.

NP: Oh bitter.

SP: Whatever Graham, whatever. It's a long round isn't it

NP: Correct challenge, 40 seconds, London Bridge starting now.

TH: London Bridge is my favourite underground station because it is on the Northern Line which is particularly enjoyable. And it's blood in...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of which.

NP: Oh yes.

SP: Which is my favourite line.

NP: Which is my favourite line, which is particularly enjoyable. So repetition, a tough one but correct. So Sue, 32 seconds, London Bridge starting now.

SP: I also love the Northern Line...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Repetition.

NP: Why?

GN: Also, the repetition is implied!

NP: Graham deserves a bonus point for that. He made his point but it wasn't correct within the rules of Just A Minute. So Sue you still have London Bridge and you have 30 seconds starting now.

SP: It's a fantastic station, now of course connecting the city and its many bustling commuters. I don't go there very often which is why when I am painting the picture to you, you will find it scant in detail. But let me evoke the smell which I am familiar with. Imagine a tramp festering in a bin liner...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Well first of all, these were all the things that I was going to say about this. So, sorry, it was rather nicked from me, I felt. And hesitation.

NP: There was a little hesitation.

SP: Yes.

GN: Yeah yeah yeah.

SP: I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you.

NP: Tony correct challenge and there are 13 seconds available, London Bridge starting now.

TH: It goes from the north bank to the south side of the river! And how we love to stroll across it on a Sunday afternoon perhaps, earlier in the week if we don't have a proper job. But we just mill around...


NP: So Tony Hawks was then speaking as the whistle went and he has now increased his lead at that end. And it's Sue Perkins, Paul Merton and Graham Norton in that order. And Paul we are back with you to begin, the subject now is sugar coating. Tell us something about sugar coating in this game starting now.

PM: Sugar coating is a process by which you coat something with sugar, making it much sweeter than it otherwise would be. I think we all remember that song from Mary Poppins, Just A Spoonful Of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down. And as I was saying the other day to the Archbishop, you know it's wonderful that we as people can look towards each other and say I think you're beautiful. I sugar coat my relationship with you, I take away the harsh things you might imagine I would say. Instead I give you a lovely high calorific intake no doubt. But a superb view of what I really think of you as a human being. You smile, your beautiful tap dancing...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Repetition of beautiful.

NP: Yes there was, there was, there was. Yes there were some groans in the audience then because they wanted Paul to go on.

TH: They wanted more of that magnificently informative...

GN: He was stopped.

TH: Yeah.

PM: Well good job you were here then isn't it.

NP: Yes the sad thing about this game is everybody enjoyed it so much and I can't give you bonus points for going so well and...

PM: No I think I was lulling them into a coma!

NP: Yes...

SP: You were sugar coating them into a coma!

PM: Yeah.

NP: You were sugar coating the audience.

GN: A diabetic coma.

NP: Fifteen seconds available, sugar coating starting now.

TH: A donut without any sugar coating is not one that will really please you to the fullness of its capability...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well I don't know. I don't know what a donut's full capability of pleasing me is! Outside of being a donut, we could negotiate a nice house sale for me somewhere, or organise a holiday for two in the Algar. I don't know what to expect from a donut, do you know what I'm saying?

NP: No. Do you know what you're saying?

PM: I don't know what I'm saying. That's your job.

NP: No no...

PM: Deviation.

NP: On what grounds?

PM: On the grounds that ah he... I don't know, no.

NP: I think he was going into the realms of the surreal and we give him the benefit of the doubt on that occasion. Eight seconds, sugar coating, still with you Tony starting now.

TH: As Paul pointed out correctly in his speech earlier on which I enjoyed very much by the way, sugar coating is also...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Plagiarism! He's doing my material! He won't even wait till I've left the room, he's doing it now!

NP: I know he is.

PM: Repetition of what I said.

NP: He hasn't...

PM: It wasn't worth saying the first time!

NP: He hasn't repeated anything yet. I think he was about to.

PM: Oh yes okay.

NP: So Tony another interruption, another point, three seconds on sugar coating starting now.

TH: Cakes have sugar coating and they are very pleasant...


NP: So Tony Hawks was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, has increased his lead at the end of that round. And strange enough often when people speak a lot, they come round to start the next round. And so Tony it's with you once more to begin and the subject now is falling off a log. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

TH: Falling off a log ought to be an easy thing to do. And yet several years ago a group of scouts nailed me to a log and pushed me down river and I could not get off for 15 minutes or so. A great anecdote which I wish I hadn't really bothered to tell you. However I am going to say...


NP: Sue Perkins.

SP: Hesitation.

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

PM: No.

NP: I think he was quite definite there.

PM: Yeah.

NP: So Pony another point to you...

TH: Pony?

NP: Pony yes.

PM: It's Cockney rhyming slang, don't worry about it.

NP: Falling off a log, we are still with you Tony, 43 seconds starting now.

TH: Simple as falling off a log, talking for one minute without deviating, hesitating or repetitioning...


NP: Sue.

SP: Um well ah deviation from the word ah which we may have put...

NP: Yeah I mean repetitioning...

SP: Yeah.

NP: ... isn't exactly...

GN: No.

SP: Repetitioning?

NP: Right benefit of the doubt to you Sue, 36 seconds, falling off a log starting now.

SP: Indeed it is hard. Harder than falling off a log to talk on this subject for however many seconds I have left. One would think that simply to fall off anything, you just give yourself to the elements. And yet the natural will to survive is there, and so you keep on going. Why would you perchance want to slip off a surface when you can stay on it? Much better to be sure-footed and safe than throw yourself into the abyss for no good reason. I don't know where the expression comes from and that's a running motif with many of the things that I've taken and run with this evening. But it won't stop me, not for one single second. I have never been nailed to a log by scouts and yet were I to be ...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well it's just deviation now because we are talking about nailing to a log now but the thing is about falling off a log, isn't it.

NP: That's right, you were talking about nailing to a log, it's falling off a log. I think you've taken the subject off into the realms of deviation. So the benefit of the doubt to Paul, you had the benefit last time, Paul gets it this time. You've got in with two seconds to go Paul, on falling off a log starting now.

PM: Falling off a dog is much easier than...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now equal with Sue Perkins in second place, out in the lead is still Tony Hawks as we go into the final round with Graham Norton to begin. And the subject is digging. Tell us something about digging in this game starting now.

GN: A long story short, I love digging! Nothing gives me more pleasure than digging! Even the sound of the word in my mouth gives me pleasure! Digging.


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of gives me, it's two words.

NP: Nothing gives me more pleasure, nothing gives me...

GN: Giving? Giving? Yeah you're right.

NP: Sue Perkins has a correct challenge, 49 seconds, tell us something about digging Sue starting now.

SP: You may love digging Graham, but nobody loves digging more than I do.


PM: No, she said love and loves. So I was going to say repetition but I was wrong

NP: No no yes you were... Sue incorrect challenge, 45 seconds, digging starting now.

SP: Winter in the garden, spade in hand, slicing it through the damp soil. There's nothing more important. If you bisect a worm on the way, it's tragic but you get over it...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: I think Paul and I could start to list the things that are more important. She said there's nothing more important. Well I think food on the table...

SP: If you're a big digger fan, no, not at all!

TH: You know, to say there's nothing more important than slicing earth with a spade? It demeans my whole life!

SP: That was my intention!

NP: You made your point but it wasn't correct within the rules of Just A Minute. So digging is still with you Sue, 34 seconds starting now.

SP: For the people who don't like digging you can have a no-dig garden. This particularly is important for those who are lazy...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Did we have garden before.

NP: Yes nothing like getting in the garden...

TH: And important.

NP: ... with a spade putting it in...

SP: Yes yes.

NP: Right Paul, correct challenge, now we are going to hear from that side. But you're not working as a team, remember.

PM: No!

GN: No.

SP: No you're a lone wolf.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Twenty-nine seconds Paul, digging starting now.

PM: The Great Escape. Those people who saw the film or indeed were at the camp will never forget the experience. Tom, Dick and Harry, three tunnels were dug by the allied prisoners, underneath the Germans' noses. Not exactly because that would be leave a moustache. But they were under the ground...


PM: Oh under.

NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Yeah repetition of under.

NP: Under yes.

GN: Yes.

NP: Underground, under... no, underground is all one word.

PM: Yes.

SP: Underground.

NP: Yes.

PM: Yeah wombling free...

SP: (sings) Wombling free!

PM: (sings) Tom, Dick and Harry...

SP: (sings) Tunnellers are we.

NP: So they were under, under the noses, but underground is one word. So Paul an incorrect challenge, 12 seconds still on digging starting now.

PM: During the English Civil War there were many political groups that sprung up. And one...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Repetition of war.

NP: Oh yes, you talked about the war and the prisoners of war.

PM: Yes.

NP: That's right.

PM: That's right.

NP: So you repeated war. Well listened Graham, eight seconds on digging starting now.

GN: Digging is brilliant! Oh the feel of the soil in your hands! Because I eschew...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Digging, digging with his hands.

GN: Yeah.

NP: Yes.

GN: Yes I was going along that I eschew a shovel or spade.

SP: You eschew?

GN: That's how much I like my digging.

SP: Wow! You know, rarely do I come across somebody who likes digging more than me. You know what, I'm backing right out of this now. It's a pleasure to listen to you.

NP: Right. No actually Sue, if you're a keen gardener as I am, I mean you dig with a spade normally but you often dig down with your hands...

GN: Oh it's so true isn't it Nicholas.

NP: Yes. And you put a little tiny thing in...

GN: Oh it's lovely.

NP: If it's soft, nice, soft...

SP: It's like a roaster, the way you did that.

TH: I hate digging! Can't stand it!

NP: What about the audience? Do you hate digging or love it?


NP: There you are, they're all...

GN: Love it! Love it!

NP: Love it, right Graham, incorrect challenge, oh you've still got one second to go on digging starting now.

GN: Digging is truly the...


NP: So let me give you the final situation. Graham Norton, on this occasion he has finished up in fourth place. But only just behind Paul Merton and only just a little bit further behind Sue Perkins. But out in the lead was Tony Hawks so we say Tony, you are our winner this week. So it only remains for me to say thank you to these fine players of the game, Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Graham Norton and Sue Perkins. I thank Sarah Sharpe, who has helped me with the score, blown her whistle so elegantly. We thank our producer Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And we are of course indebted to this lovely audience here at the Radio Theatre who have been absolutely magnificent. We have enjoyed ourselves, we hope you have enjoyed yourselves and we particularly hope the listeners have enjoyed themselves. And if they have, tune in again the same time next week and listen to Just A Minute!