NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Thank you, 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 around the world. But also to welcome to the programme four exciting, diverse and enterprising personalities who this week are going to play the show. And they are, seated on my right, Paul Merton and Gyles Brandreth. And seated on my left, Sheila Hancock and Ian McMillan. Please welcome all four of them! And beside me sits Sarah Sharpe, who is going to help me keep the score, blow a whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the British Library, that august place just off Marylebone Road in the heart of London. And we have a very distinguished intellectual audience in front of us. And also I need to tell you the British Library have got an exhibition on called Evolving Language, and so celebrating the English language. And so it's very apt we should be here in the British Library during this particular festival. And it's very apt that the first subject on the card is the British Library. So Paul would you begin the show and take this subject, and your time starts now.

PAUL MERTON: Ah the British Library yes. I have been well acquainted with the British Library ever since I first walked into it some 25 minutes ago. It's situated off the Euston Road here. And it seems to me, by chatting to other people around and asking what the purpose was of the British Library, and what function it fulfils, is it contains every single book ever published. And you can simply go up to a gentleman and ask...


NP: Ah Sheila Honcack...

PM: Sheila Honcack?

SHEILA HANCOCK: Do you mean me?

NP: I, I think Sheila Honcack is...

SH: It's a nice variation isn't it, yes!

NP: ... rather flattering. But Sheila you challenged first. What was your challenge?

SH: Well it's not strictly speaking true, is it. Because they're not all stored, I believe, in this building.

PM: Oh really?

SH: There's some of them stored...

NP: Sheila I can verify that you had a correct challenge. Because there's a certain author, Edward Lear, I do a whole programme about him. And there is no copy of his first folio edition of his Book Of Nonsense, anywhere in the world, not even here. They failed to pick one up and restore it.

SH: Oh.

NP: You've got a correct challenge.

SH: Well for the wrong reason though. I didn't know about Lear and his problems.

NP: No.

SH: However...

PM: But Edward Lear would have loved your pronunciation of Sheila's name.

NP: Yes.

SH: He would have made a whole poem out of that.

NP: Exactly, of course. So Sheila Honcack...

SH: That is going to be my name from now on! I'm throwing it in.

NP: You have a correct challenge, you have 38 seconds, tell us something about the British Library starting now.

SH: It's built out of red brick which synchronises beautifully with the St Pancreas Station next door which is now being converted into flats. It does have red...


NP: Ian challenged.

IAN McMILLAN: That can't be right because I got a train. And there was nobody in there, there was nobody sat on a settee watching the television. It appeared to be a station where I got on a train from a, from a, to a destination known as Sheffield.

SH: A bit of it is, but...

PM: The hotel is being converted into flats but the station isn't.

SH: Oh right.

PM: It's fine.

SH: Oh right.

IM: The station's there.

NP: The station's still there.

IM: Yes.

NP: But the original building is being converted into flats.

PM: Yeah.

NP: So I think technically Sheila was correct.

SH: Oh I don't know about that.

NP: Ian, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say you have a correct challenge, you have a point of course and 29 seconds available, the British Library starting now.

IM: The first time I came to the British Library it had been raining like tonight. And I was so excited to come to the British Library that I ran across the opening and I slipped.


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: He's doing a few pauses.

NP: I know he is.

SH: I ran, da da da da duh.

PM: Yeah.

IM: We lawyers call that engouement.

SH: I know.

NP: It's sort of poetic licence and theatrical.

SH: All right.

NP: No no but Sheila you're correct, there were pauses. And you let the first one go and you picked him up on the second one presumably.

IM: That's true.

SH: I did.

NP: So Sheila correct challenge, 19 seconds, you tell us more about the British Library starting now.

SH: It's quite difficult to get into it because there is ever so many gates and it is confusing. However the people that work here are absolutely delightful. When I was young I tried to come and so some study here...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GYLES BRANDRETH: You are still young.

NP: So let me be generous and say Gyles I give you a bonus point for gallant.

SH: Give him 10!

NP: It's one of the new innovations I've introduced. But Sheila you were interrupted, so you get a point for that, you keep the subject, eight seconds still available, the British Library starting now.

SH: I wasn't allowed in because I didn't...


NP: Oh Gyles challenged.

GB: Wasn't allowed twice.

SH: Oh right.

NP: You weren't allowed in before, yeah. So Gyles you have a correct challenge now and you have seven seconds on the British Library starting now.

GB: In the old reading room of the British Library...


NP: Ian challenged.

IM: Gyles you are really young!

PM: How big's the fiction department here!

NP: Ian it was a good attempt to get a point for gallantry. But it doesn't apply when you are doing it to your own sex.

GB: Unless you are claiming deviation is the reason.

NP: So Gyles I am going to call that an incorrect challenge and say you have six seconds on the British Library starting now.

GB: The wonderful echo that there is in that extraordinary room was a way of awakening the old dozy...


NP: So at the end of that round Gyles Brandreth got a number of points including one for speaking as the whistle went. And he's leapt forward, Sheila Hancock follows you, Ian is there and Paul is yet to score but has plenty of time. Gyles will you begin the next round and the subject is, here's a nice one, my school crush. You see, it got an immediate reaction from the audience. She might actually be in the audience, we don't know. You have 60 seconds as usual starting now.

GB: If only I had been to school with Sheila Honker. As it is, I was brought up with Ed Balls' older sister who gloried in the name of Ophelia but alas did not live up to her reputation. In fact in my same class was the lovely Anne Widdecombe...


NP: Sheila challenged. Sheila you challenged.

SH: Did, did he say class before.

GB: No.

SH: No? All right, go on.

NP: No it was a good attempt Sheila but it wasn't correct, sorry. So Gyles, another incorrect challenge, another point to you, my school crush starting now.

GB: The little girl who later became a Conservative Member of Parliament was then so dainty on her toes. The aspiring...


NP: Yes Paul.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: I would call that hesitation Paul and you have 35 seconds, tell us something about my school crush starting now.

PM: Well I went to an all boy school, but I remember particularly one boy whose name was James, who had a particularly... I've got to stop there.


PM: I'd better stop there. I don't want to identify him. Or do I?

NP: But it was Sheila challenged you, before...

PM: Oh did she?

SH: Well I was stopping him before he altered his whole reputation. So I know it was hesitation.

NP: It was, right, so Sheila, you've got the subject, 27 seconds, my school crush starting now.

SH: When I was at Dartford Grammar School we had what is called the science six which was a group of boys who used to come over and use our laboratories. And one of them...


NP: Ian challenged.

IM: Is that a euphemism?

SH: No.

NP: When you're a wordsmith, it's amazing what you can achieve, isn't it. Right they, Ian, I think the audience enjoyed that interruption so much, I'm going to give you a bonus point for that.

IM: Thank you.

NP: But Sheila was interrupted so she keeps the subject, 19 seconds, my school crush starting now.

SH: One of them was called Alan Coast and he was like a Greek god...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: I knew him, he was covered in pimples!

NP: So what's your challenge...

PM: He might be the god of acne.

GB: Deviation, I can't imagine somebody as lovely as Sheila fancying this boy who was just a spotty...

NP: You don't know him, you weren't at the same school, we've just established that.

SH: And I was covered in acne then too.

PM: He might have had a certain charm.

NP: Incorrect challenge Gyleds, 14 seconds still available Sheila, my school crush starting now.

SH: I did everything in my power to attract his attention, but he took no notice of me whatsoever, until I was in the school play. I did Saint Joan and the next day he asked me to go to the school dance and I thought...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of school.

NP: No it's on the card.

PM: Oh is it.

NP: My school crush.

PM: Ah well I should have written that down, shouldn't I.

NP: Yeah right. Gosh Sheila, you've been challenged with only one second to go, so you have one second on my school crush starting now.

SH: My school crush...


NP: So my school crush took Sheila from a strong second place right into a commanding lead and she's four or five points ahead of all the others. Oh Ian, here's an interesting subject, forgetting names. It comes to a lot of people as you get older and um, or you get them muddled. Ian McMillan the subject is forgetting names, 60 seconds starting now.

IM: Thank you Steven. I find that when I forget name, the best thing is, attack is the best method of defence. Because if you see somebody walking down the street and you think I don't know who you are, you just say "hello Frank". And if that's not their name, they will perhaps think that it is...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: I think the word is (speaks in French).

IM: Yes it was a little pause, a little pause, it was a little pause.

NP: Oh I see yes.

PM: Can I have mine without custard.

NP: We're not playing this in French, Gyles.

GB: No no I know. But it was just that Ian referred to that as being his euphemism for pause.

NP: Yes but I don't think a French word for pause is useful in this. It is going to be very...

GB: Let me cut to the chase, hesitation.

IM: That's right.

NP: Gyles you have a correct challenge, you have 46 seconds, forgetting names starting now.

GB: I never forget a face, but I will make an exception in your case. said Harpo Marx or was it Groucho...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well it was Groucho because Harpo never spoke.

GB: You didn't know him on a one to one basis. He was quite chatty at home over the sandwiches.

NP: No but professionally, we know, we associate Harpo with not speaking so 40 seconds area available, you tell us something about forgetting names starting now.

PM: It does seem, become a problem as you get older. It has been suggested that there are various ways to remember a name. For example if I look at Gyles Brandreth, I think of some mental image and I associate that with him forever. So I... oh my God!


PM: Oh I wasn't expecting that!

NP: No. Gyles you challenged.

GB: Yes indeed there was clear deviation there that led to hesitation.

NP: Yes.

GB: And I don't want repetition. That's the long and the short of it.

NP: And you have 26 seconds, forgetting names starting now.

GB: As you may know I am very fond of acronyms. My favourite being the one DAM which stands for Mothers Against Dyslexia. But I'm also partial to the acronym that says CRAFT, C-R-A-F-T...


NP: Ian challenged.

IM: Repetition of acronym.

GB: Correct.

NP: Yes. So Ian you've got a correct challenge, 15 seconds, forgetting names starting now.

IM: So if you go up to them and say "hello Frank"...


NP: Out of all the first names in the English language you had to pick the one he'd used before.

IM: But this was spelled with a Q.

NP: It doesn't matter, it's what they hear. So Paul, you challenged first, I think we know...

PM: Repetition, it's nice to hear from Frank again. He's a bit of an old friend really.

NP: There are 12 seconds available Paul for forgetting names starting now.

PM: If you take a letter from an individual's name and think to yourself okay, his first initials are GW, I shall make that Giraffe Washroom. Every time...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Think twice.

NP: Oh yes.


PM: Nobody else seems to be aware of it.

NP: That oooohhh was a recognition amongst the audience I think. So Gyles another correct challenge and you've got one second to go.


NP: A different kind of ooooohhh. And it's forgetting names starting now

GB: Can't remember...


NP: So at the end of that round Gyles Brandreth got some number of points including one for speaking as the whistle went. And he's leapt forward, he's just one ahead of Sheila Hancock and then comes Paul Merton and Ian McMillan equal in third place. Sheila would you begin the next round, a nice one, going to the hairdressers. Will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

SH: Until recently I have hated going to the hairdressers. Because the noise of the muzak and the voices and the screaming, I can't bear it...


SH: I can't.

NP: Ian challenged.

PM: Are you sure this is the hairdressers.

IM: It's not the hairdressers, is it. This must be somewhere else.

SH: Absolutely, the people are screaming orders and shouting at one another.

IM: I thought you meant screaming in pain.

SH: No. No, screaming out.

IM: Sorry.

Gb: Have you never had your eyebrows plucked?

IM: Always a pleasure.

NP: They weren't screaming in pain. They were just joyous screams I suppose. But Sheila an incorrect challenge, so Sheila's still got the subject, another point to her of course, going to the hairdressers Sheila, oh and there are 50 seconds starting now.

SH: I particularly can't bear the hairdressers ask you like, are you going on holiday this year. I'm an actress, I don't do that. If I'm at leisure, it means I'm out of work and worried. Also what are you going to do at the weekend. Well I'm going to do two shows on Saturday, a matinee and an evening performance and on Sunday I'll crash out. Not the most exciting life. However hairdressers have a wonderful life. Fidel Sassoon...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: We had two lives quite quickly.

SH: Yes.

NP: Yes you talked about their life before.

PM: Life.

SH: Yeah and hairdressers as well.

NP: So Paul well listened, you've got the subject, you've got a point and you've got going to the hairdressers starting now.

PM: I remember going to the hairdressers some time ago back in about 1991 and the woman I was with in my life then had been to that previous establishment before me. And as I sat down...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: Nineteen-ninety-one. Two 19s.

NP: Nineteen no.

SH: No no. Oh I'm desperate to win because I was so awful last time, I'm trying to justify my existence.

NP: You're still in the lead with Gyles. Don't worry, don't get too tense about it...

SH: No.

NP: ... or you will lose.

SH: I can't be last again! I can't!

NP: You can! You can! No, right there Paul, an incorrect challenge, 16 seconds available, going to the hairdressers starting now.

PM: Your girlfriend's right, you have got a flat head. But of course that would have made more sense if it had been joined up to the previous bit where I annunciated on this subject. But of course that is the problem...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Two of courses.

PM: Yes there were.

NP: There were two of courses yes. And Gyles got another point, he's got the subject and there are seven seconds, going to the hairdressers starting now.

GB: I could never understand why my mother spent so much money going to the hairdressers. It is a scandal. When I go to the hairdressers...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Deviation, he said when I go to the hairdressers. Hardly any hair at all!

GB: If you had allowed me to finish the sentence, I was going to say I am turned away.

PM: Well I'm sure they'd offer you a quick polish but other than that...

NP: So what's your challenge within the rules...

PM: Well deviation.

NP: Why?

PM: Deviation, he doesn't need a hairdresser, look at him!

NP: I can see from here that the back of his neck has been cleaned with the clippers so perhaps he does go to the hairdressers.

PM: Yeah maybe. Maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt.

NP: He's got the benefit of the doubt.

PM: Oh has he? Oh.

NP: And he's got the point and the subject and one second to go Gyles, again going to the hairdressers starting now.

GB: How do you want your hair cut? In silence.


NP: So Gyles Brandreth was again speaking as the whistle went again, got that extra point and others in the round. Hed's moved forward now, he's just ahead of Sheila Hancock and a few more ahead of Paul Merton and Ian McMillan. Gyles I think you should take the next round, the subject is my accent. Tell us something about my accent in this game starting now.

GB: To be or not, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. I speak in this way with this particular accent because of the way I was reared, brought up...


NP: Sheila Hancock challenged.

SH: Two ways.

NP: Two ways yes.

GB: Yes I've often been accused of being Tommy Two-ways.

PM: Mainly by yourself.

GB: Indeed. Yes I out myself on a regular basis, and yet no-one shows any interest. They occasionally cross to the other side of the road, that is about all I get.

PM: Yeah. Funny that, isn't it.

NP: And I think that's enough for this show Gyles.

PM: It's a shame.

NP: Forty-six seconds Sheila, my accent starting now.

SH: This accent I have was very carefully acquired in two years at Rada. I started with a Cockney accent, spent all the time with a tooth prop in my mouth, trying to open up my mouth...


NP: Ian challenged.

IM: What's a tooth prop?

SH: Well...

IM: Is it like a toothpick?

SH: No.

IM: With pretensions.

SH: If you like, I'll use up some of my minute describing it. I'm not going to waste it on you now!

IM: Thank you.

NP: Yes Ian, it's much better to challenge with some fault in mind rather than to ask a question.

IM: We're in a library!

NP: Yes.

IM: It's a kind of hall of knowledge where you can learn things.

NP: Yes but it's not Just A Minute though, is it. Anyway Sheila, incorrect challenge, 35 seconds, my accent starting now.

SH: The said object is a little bit of wood stuck between your teeth in order to make...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Repetition of teeth.

PM: Tooth before, wasn't it.

GB: No, teeth.

SH: Teeth, was it? I don't know.

GB: No I agree.

PM: Tooth, I thought it was tooth thing.

NP: It was tooth before.

PM: Tooth before teeth.

SH: Was it.

NP: Yes it was. Right, well listened.

SH: It's going to be on my conscience that I probably did say teeth and I have no memory of it. However...

GB: Don't worry, I have no memory of it either.

NP: I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt Sheila...

SH: Okay.

NP: ... because you say you don't often get it. And er...

SH: I get it quite often! Even...

NP: And we're delighted to know it and I'm glad you thought of it. Thirty seconds are still available Sheila, my accent starting now.

SH: I ended up speaking received pronunciation which is what you have to do when you go to the said teaching...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Oh hesitation sadly.

NP: That was a hesitation yes.

SH: It was.

NP: So my accent is with you Paul, that's the subject, 23 seconds starting now.

PM: (in posh voice) Having spent 15 years as the Duke of Argyll, you would wonder where my accent came from. Well my family goes back many years over the centuries. Indeed I can even place my ancestors as late as 1862. (normal voice) Which is a terrible way of speaking. And actually my real accent, somebody once said to me on Radio Four about 1983, with a voice like that you will never appear on this particular station. And he was right!


NP: Right so oh I've just heard we are moving into the final round. It doesn't get much reaction, did it really. So as we move into the final round, Ian McMillan who hasn't played the game quite as often as the others is trailing a little in fourth place. But the other three, all very close out in the lead. Paul is on 14, Gyles is 15, Sheila's on 15. And Sheila, it's all getting very dramatic. I'm illustrating it in my voice, I don't know what. Anyway Sheila we'd like you to start the round. It is nostalgia. Tell us something about nostalgia in this game starting now.

SH: I'm not a great one for nostalgia! When the past is over, for me it is finished. I like to live in the present. And I often think that we mistake the past...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Repetition of past.

SH: Yes I hadn't even said it when you buzzed.

GB: I was anticipating.

SH: Yes.

NP: But she did say it. Gyles, benefit of the doubt, 50 seconds, nostalgia starting now.

GB: Ducking for apples. Give or take a consonant or two, that was always my favourite childhood game. Parlour entertainment of every kind...


NP: Paul's challenged you.

PM: It was Dorothy Parker's as well. The ducking for apples joke is a Dorothy Parker one, isn't it.

GB: Yes. Yeah it is, I was going to give her a credit.

PM: Were you?

GB: Plus I was coming on to say my favourite parlour game was quotations. She would have got a credit and if you'd have been in the book, you would have got a credit too.

NP: So what was your challenge Paul?

PM: I suppose it was blatant plagiarism really, but... that's not a challenge is it.

NP: That's not one of the challenges within the rules of Just A Minute.

PM: No no, otherwise he'd never say anything, would he.

NP: Yeah. I don't think I can give bonus points for insults.

PM: Funnily enough, I'm quite content without one!

NP: So, but you did get a very nice reaction from it.

PM: Yes yeah.

NP: The audience enjoyed it.

PM: Absolutely.

NP: So we'll give you a bonus point for that, shall we. Gyles gets a point because he was interrupted, he keeps the subject of nostalgia and there are 43 seconds starting now.

GB: "Rise above it", said Noel Coward when faced with impertinent young things...


PM: He's doing it again! He's quoting other people! "Rise above it", said Noel Coward. I mean what does Gyles think? We as a nation care! Just because he's got Ned Sherrin's Theatrical Quotations book at home.

NP: But he cam still say "rise above it", and say who said it first.

PM: Yes he can, I think I probably fell into a trap there. I feel better for it though!

NP: Forty seconds Gyles, still with you, nostalgia starting now.

GB: Don't quote me, but my favourite game as a child...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: Didn't he, didn't he talk about Quote Unquote or...

NP: No that was outside the game.

PM: Yeah.

SH: Oh was it.

NP: Yes. They have talked an awful lot, the other side of the room, I must say!

SH: Yeah all right.

NP: He didn't use Quote Unquote in the actual game.

SH: Oh I see.

NP: So bad luck, you are just helping him to get into the lead there, right.

SH: I know.

NP: So Gyles has got another point. He has nostalgia still and there are 36 seconds starting now.

GB: Among the things that money can't buy is that itself. A penny, a farthing, a shilling, these were the terms of finance that we used during my childhood...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: Lots of repetitions of a. A penny, a farthing, a shilling. I'n being really mean!

NP: No...

PM: But to be fair, it was his own work!

GB: I'll have you know, it was the beginning of a song by Lionel Bart.

NP: It doesn't matter Gyles. I mean you let, you can let two go, but three, no, that is definitely repetition.

SH: Oh right, oh.

NP: So Sheila yes you have a correct challenge, 28 seconds, nostalgia starting now.

SH: There is a wonderful book called Remembrance Of Times Past where the gentleman remem... bers...


SH: Remember, no, I didn't repeat...

PM: No.

SH: Remembers, but I hesitated because I thought I was going to repeat.

NP: Exactly, it often happens in this game. We're getting towards the end, it's all going very tense. I can feel the tension up here on the stage, it's here amongst the audience. Right Gyles, you had an incorrect challenge, you've got another point and you have nostalgia and you have 21 seconds starting now.

GB: (in Churchill voice) Never in the field of human conflict has so much unfairness been meted out in such a game as this. (normal voice) I loved as a child to listen to the speeches of Sir Winston Churchill, one of the great orators...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Oh I don't know. Deviation, deviation I think. Because...

NP: It is deviation.

PM: ... that wasn't one of Winston Churchill's speeches.

NP: Yes.

PM: He never said that.

NP: No he didn't use those actual words.

PM: He said something similar, he didn't say those words, did he.

NP: No no.

PM: No. Deviation.

NP: If he hadn't qualified his remarks by saying one of his speeches.

PM: Yes.

NP: Because it wasn't one of his speeches.

PM: It wasn't, no.

GB: Whose was it then?

PM: Well it was your own creation! Now isn't that exciting!

GB: I don't think it was. I don't think that's possible!

NP: Never in human conflict...

GB: Never in the field of human conflict has so much been...

SH: No you didn't, you said game has so...

GB: Because I couldn't repeat anything.

SH: He's falling apart! He's falling apart!

NP: You're trying to justify something which is impossible Gyles.

GB: I don't want to do that.

NP: No. And you've never tried to do it before, have you?

GB: Never tried it.

NP: Paul has a correct challenge, he has 10 seconds on nostalgia starting now.

PM: Nostalgia is stuff you look back on and think ah, I was younger then. Perhaps those programmes that made me laugh when I was in my teens, maybe they're not as funny as I...


NP: Well as I said this is to be the last round and it is now the end of the last round. So let me give you the final score. Ian McMillan who hasn't played the game as much as before, but Ian it is the value that people give that is so important.

IM: I think so.

NP: And we loved having you and you did very well. And you did finish in a very strong fourth place.

IM: Good.

NP: And as I've often said, in this game you know, the points are less important than the contribution. And they all have fun. And out in the lead, only one point separating each of them in ascending or descending order are Sheila Hancock, Gyles Brandreth and Paul Merton. And I think it would be very fair to say that they are the three equal winners this week. So I do hope you have enjoyed this particular edition of Just A Minute. And I only have to thank these four fine players of this game, Paul Merton, Gyles Brandreth, Sheila Hancock and Ian McMillan. And also I thank Sarah Sharpe, who has helped me with the score, blown her whistle beautifully when the 60 seconds elapsed. We thank our producer Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And we are indebted to this lovely audience here in the Theatre of the British Library, who have enjoyed themselves, we think, cheered us on our way magnificently. So from this lovely audience, from the panel and from me Nicholas Parsons, good-bye, thank you for tuning in. But tune in again the next time we play Just A Minute! Yes!