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 throughout the world. But also to welcome to the show this week four dynamic, talented, humorous players of this game who are going to show their wit and their repartee, and their way with words, their verbal dexterity and ingenuity as they try and speak on a subject I will give them and they try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And those four are, seated on my left Paul Merton and Liza Tarbuck. And seated on my right, Sue Perkins and Graham Norton. Please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Sarah Sharpe, who is going to help me keep the score, and blow a whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And this particular Just A Minute is coming from the Radio Theatre, in the heart of Broadcasting House, and we have an awe-struck audience here who have come in from the cold in order to get warm. And we are going to try and warm them up as we begin the show with Sue Perkins, who better. And the subject I have in front of me Sue is what I see in the mirror. You have 60 seconds as usual, starting now.

SUE PERKINS: Youthful, beautiful, creamy skin. At least it appears that way now I've chosen not to wear my glasses when I look in the mirror. Were I to put on my loomette I would see a craggy visage, a strange baggy-eyed thing but nonetheless one that I am quite pleased with and familiar over the years...


NP: Graham Norton challenged.

GRAHAM NORTON: I thought I should just sort of interrupt and contradict. It seemed polite rather than let her sort of slag herself off. We're all going "yeah that's right, yeah! Vile old head, yeah that's what you see, okay!" I just thought it was the gentlemanly thing to do.

SP: You are a gentleman.

NP: Well what I'll do is I'll give you a bonus point...


NP: ... for your interruption and your gentlemanly gesture. But Sue gets a point because she was interrupted, what I see in the mirror and there are 43 seconds still available Sue, starting now.

SP: I can see a big frown-line which I like because this great crag in my face represents all the times I have had a thought. Three to be precise. Mainly I consign myself to speaking. And when I am talking I find I don't have to use my cranium in any way, shape or form. It's better that way, just an endless discharge, I am deviating ah a bit...


NP: Graham you challenged.

GN: There was a hesitation.

NP: That was a hesitation yes. So Graham you have the subject, there are 21 seconds available, what I see in the mirror starting now.

GN: What I see when I look in the mirror depends on the mirror lighting, but most of all, how much I have had to drink. That's why I like to down half a pint of vodka before I even brush my teeth. And in that way I can...


NP: Liza challenged.

LIZA TARBUCK: There was a definite nyah that way. A hesitation.

NP: No I don't think so. I think it's just the way Graham speaks, I think it's a sort of idiosyncratic...

GN: I've built in a lot of hesitation!

SP: With the yin and yang of speaking!

NP: And he hasn't had that half a bottle of vodka before we started, I know because I was with him. No I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt Graham, which I do on occasions and what I see in the mirror Graham, four seconds still available starting now.

GN: What I see in the mirror rarely delights me and yet I struggle on...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Graham Norton and he is in a commanding lead ahead of all the others at the end of that round. And Graham it's also your turn to begin. So would you take now the subject of my ruthless streak. I can't believe you have one but try and speak on the subject, 60 seconds starting now.

GN: My ruthless streak is rarely exposed in public and yet I cannot hide it when I am playing the game of Just A Minute. Like a big-eared hawk I sit on my tweedy chair, listening out...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Deviation, big-eared hawks don't like tweedy chairs! They prefer usually I'd say a sort of wooded habitat, a branch would suffice. Rarely are they...

GN: Like! Like!

NP: He was trying to create an image and it could have been a fantastical image which he was doing. And I don't think technically he was deviating within the rules of Just A Minute, he was going into the realms of fantasy which we allow on occasions Sue.

GN: Yes.

NP: So we give him the benefit of the doubt.

GN: Yes Nicholas.

NP: And it's my ruthless streak still with you and 46 seconds available starting now.

GN: Part of my ruthless streak is pretending to love Nicholas Parsons and agree with everything he says. In this manner I get the benefit of the doubt! Oh those three words delight me! And my little ruthless streak...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Have we moved on to the benefit of the doubt now, rather than my ruthless streak?

NP: Well I think he established that...

GN: Nicholas, think carefully! I know you'll get the right answer in the end!

NP: Yes...

PM: This benefit of the doubt concept you speak of sounds quite interesting. How would that work exactly?

NP: He said my benefit of the doubt was his ruthless streak.

PM: Oh okay.

NP: So he was going on and illustrating his ruthless streak, associating it with the benefit of the doubt.

PM: Yeah.

SP: We're not getting any of it, basically!

NP: No but you'll get the benefit of the doubt later on, I will give one for you.

PM: Oh will I?

NP: Yes right.

LT: He's bandying this round willy nilly. I've seen none of it!

NP: Twenty-nine seconds Graham, my ruthless streak starting now.

GN: My ruthless streak has struck again, ladies and gentlemen! And so I speak with 29, probably fewer seconds left in this minute of the game. My ruthless streak...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of minute. Just A Minute and minute.

NP: Yes you talked about Just A Minute. So Sue you listened well, you got in there with 19 seconds on my ruthless streak starting now.

SP: Once at a rugby match I stripped to nothing and ran across the pitch. It was a ruthless streak. Nonetheless people enjoyed it. There was simply not enough policemen's helmets to cover my embarrassment and everyone could see it. I don't remember the game, England versus Australia possibly. The audience will have remembered it only for my pink buttocks disappearing...


NP: Well on this occasion it was Sue Perkins speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And she's moved up, still in second place behind Graham Norton and the other two have actually yet to score. Which is unusual but doesn't matter.

PM: Yes.

NP: But that's the way it goes on this occasion.

SP: You might get the benefit of the doubt in a minute.

PM: Yes.

NP: Liza would you begin the next round, the subject is why radio is better than TV. You can, no, you can't say television, they've got TV on the card.

LT: Oh yeah well, I don't want that then!

GN: Got anything else?

SP: She don't like it!

NP: Do you want me to change it to television?

PM: Yes. Change it to television.

NP: Change it to television, it sounds better, doesn't it.

GN: It takes longer.

LT: Yeah.

SP: It does the way you say it!

NP: So Liza...

GN: I could go a minute with television!

NP: Why radio is better than television and there are 60 seconds starting now.

LT: Radio is a wonderful medium because it is so enabling. I find that I am at home doing a jigsaw or some craft work, maybe drawing, cooking, drinking, ironing perhaps, cleaning my windows, putting a little bit of green stuff on a toothbrush and getting right into the skirting board in the bathroom, fitting a new toilet seat...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: This is a great litany of great accomplishment in the world of DIY but I can't help but feel we have strayed from the subject of radio is better than television. See what I'm saying? Do you see what I'm saying Nicholas?

NP: I do see know what you're saying.

PM: Do you think I'll get the benefit of the doubt?

NP: Definitely. You definitely have the benefit of the doubt because she had deviated from radio is better, going down to her...

LT: I think the word enabling made all of that list make sense.

PM: Yeah it did, yeah.

GN: But you didn't explain why you couldn't, why you couldn't do all your DIY while you were watching television.

NP: No you...

LT: I was getting to that! That's the problem, you see.

SP: Have you tried squirting cream stuff on to a toothbrush, while there's, I don't know, Emmerdale on!

LT: It's really distracting.

SP: It's hard work, isn't it.

LT: Fine, okay, I see that my benefit of the doubt seems to have got lost in the post!

PM: I'd like to make an appeal to anyone who may have seen it in the streets. Take it home, give it a saucer of milk, and phone Liza.

NP: No definitely Paul, you deserve the benefit of the doubt on that one. Because she was giving us a list of her domestic chores.

PM: Exactly.

NP: And not why radio is definitely better than television.

PM: Exactly.

LT: I'm furious now!

NP: You won't be furious when you get your benefit of the doubt...

SP: She goes green when she is angry!

NP: She matches her dress which is also green. I mention that because we've got listeners and...

SP: No that's not on my...

GN: We did about 15 minutes ago!

NP: Paul Merton...

LT: They're all watching the telly!

NP: All right, give Liza a bonus point for what she just said! Yes. But the subject is with Paul, why radio is better than television Paul, 38 seconds starting now.

PM: It is a more immediate medium. There is not much between you and the audience. A simple microphone, there you are, people sitting in front of us watching the show. On television of course there are cameras and makeup and rehearsals and various bits and pieces that go into that extravaganza of a medium which I somehow feel that radio surpasses. Because in the end radio is a thing of the imagination. Space, science fiction stories take on an air of realism on the radio. We hear the sounds of asteroids thudding into the surface of the Moon. And it doesn't take much thought to think to ourselves I could have been an astronaut if only I had got O level...


NP: Well Paul kept going magnificently, gave us huge value for many seconds. But he only gets one extra point for speaking as the whistle went. That's the irony of this game. And Graham Norton still in the lead, then Sue Perkins and Paul Merton and Liza Tarbuck. Right Paul, the subject now is out of order. Will you start that round starting now.

PM: Of course the very concept of out of order is something that you hear from the Cockney street man in the middle of the road. He will shout out such things as (bad Cockney accent) "I say that's out of order".


PM: Am I the only one now that is thinking of Dick van Dyke?

SP: Yeah that was a South African Cockney.

PM: No that was a Cockney from the 1880s, that was a very traditional Cockney.

NP: But it was also hesitation, wasn't it.

PM: Oh yeah it was that certainly.

NP: So Sue, I mean, we did understand what he was trying to do. But I don't think he quite achieved it. Right, 49 seconds Sue on out of order starting now.

SP: The Cockney phrase, out of order, must be prefaced with the word bang. That's the way it should be spoken. And it doesn't matter what situation you're in, something will be out of order. You could have simply said the wrong thing, put your foot in it one way or the other. The crafty Cockney is perfectly illustrated...


NP: Liza challenged.

LT: Cockney.

NP: Had a Cockney there, too many Cockneys.

SP: Yeah. Yeah well you can never have too many Cockneys, to be fair.

LT: In the back of a van?

GN: Sometimes you can.

SP: In this game, technically yes, it is possible you can.

PM: (bad Cockney accent) I don't know, let's have a bit of party!

LT: You're bang out of order!

NP: So Liza you had a correct challenge, 32 seconds, out of order starting now.

LT: The sadness of seeing a paper clipped to a door...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: I thought there was hesitation but there wasn't. I was sort of...

LT: A slight benefit of the doubt my way because I get a point!

SP: Yes!

LT: I'm as happy as Larry now.

SP: Do you want me to keep buzzing in?

LT: Yeah.

SP: How many times do you want me to buzz in?

LT: I'll go like that at you.

SP: All right, do it! You're going to give me a special wink? Oh right!

NP: The sisterhood cannot outdo the rules!

SP: You say that.

GN: Wow!

SP: What are you saying, patriarch?

LT: Daddy-oh!

SP: Yeah! You cock-o-crat!

PM: That's bang out of order!

NP: Right so Liza an incorrect challenge, you have a point for that, you keep the subject, 29 seconds, out of order starting now.

LT: Out of order sellotaped to a cistern is an indication of human frailty. Not only is the toilet not working but the person who is in charge of said receptacle knows that help is on its way, it just hasn't happened yet. I find nothing more upsetting than going into Watford Gap, trying to get into a cubicle because I have only stopped for a wiggle, and then to receive...


LT: Oh I was really perspiring then!

NP: Graham challenged.

GN: It was just, was that a form of busking? Get out of your car and wiggle for money?

SP: Only at Watford Gap clearly.

LT: The Watford Gap wiggle. Doing the Watford Gap wiggle, oi!

NP: We all use different words for going to the loo and so forth.

GN: Nicholas we all do use different words, but no-one uses that one.

NP: I knew what she meant. She might call it a wiggle, you might call it a widdle.

LT: Hello...

NP: She calls it a wiggle, in my mind...

LT: Hello he's opened the box marked benefit of the doubt!

NP: You're quite right Liza.

SP: Hello.

NP: You saw it coming. The other time was a legitimately won point, this time it's a benefit of the doubt.

GN: Yay!

NP: Another point to you and keep going girl, because you've only got five seconds to go on out of order starting now.

LT: The last time I saw a sign saying out of order...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: I think we've seen a sign before. You see a sign...

NP: Right at the beginning you said about this loo, it was out of order and they didn't come and put it right.

PM: Yeah.

LT: This game is tough isn't it.

PM: It is.

NP: Paul a correct challenge, two seconds, out of order starting now.

PM: (bad Cockney accent) Oi Archbishop, you're out of order...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went. He's equal with Liza Tarbuck and Sue Perkins in second place, behind Graham Norton who is two points ahead. Sue it's with you to begin and the subject is the parks of London. Tell us something about those wonderful green places in this game starting now.

SP: The parks in autumn, slushing through the leaves with the thin sunlight bearing down, are simply the best place in the world to get dog doodle trapped in. Where else could one see 60s Staffordshire bull terriers voiding their bowels...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Staffordshire? Where else could you see it? Staffordshire!

NP: So what's your challenge?

PM: Well deviation, I'm just pointing out there's other places.

NP: No a Staffordshire bull terrier is a breed.

PM: Yes.

NP: So she wasn't deviating.

PM: No, but I interrupted at a good time though.

NP: If you're trying to get a point, any time is a good point to interrupt.

PM: Yeah exactly.

NP: But it was an incorrect challenge Paul, yes. So I mean you could have had her for all those bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, because I don't think you'd ever sight all that number in a park in London at any time. All at once at the same time...

GN: Yes.

NP: ... going on.

SP: They're breeding like flies down there!

NP: Anyway Sue, an incorrect challenge, the parks of London is still with you and there are 44 seconds starting now.

SP: One of the royal parks is staging a winter wonderland. This effectively means a Tyrolean Christmas fair where one can purchase an enormous Bratwurst to surprise Granma with during the festive season. How she'll laugh when the customary turkey gets replaced by this cumbersome log, all the way from Bavaria. How I love to march through all the beautiful stores that they have there. It's a great way...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: I feel we've wandered off the lovely parks of London. And we're now in some sort of tacky theme thing.

SP: You need to...

GN:I don't like it! I don't want to spend time there!

NP: That doesn't matter, she has wandered away from the parks of London and gone into some sort of winter wonderland.

SP: There is a winter wonderland at Hyde Park.

GN: She's deviated horribly, hasn't she Nicholas.

NP: Not horribly!

SP: There is a winter wonderland...

PM: At Hyde Park.

SP: At Hyde Park.

NP: I know there's a winter wonderland.

SP: But it's a park.

NP: But you're describing the winter wonderland and not the park.

SP: But it is in the park.

PM: Yeah.

SP: That's like saying, if you asked me to talk about me and I talk about my liver, it's deviation. But the liver is in me!

LT: For now!

GN: No but equally, equally we'd be very disappointed if you just spoke about your liver if we wanted you to know about you. And so I feel, I feel, I'm going down...

NP: Don't worry...

GN: ... with the winter wonderland now.

LT: I've distracted him.

NP: No I quite agree Graham, you, you have the benefit of the doubt on this one.

GN: Yeah yeah.

NP: So Graham...

GN: Yes?

NP: ... you have the subject and you have 18 seconds, the parks of London starting now.

GN: I believe the parks of London are some of the greatest assets this capital has. And we must treasure them and look after them. I say that although I do allow my dogs to do what you mentioned earlier in them, quite a bit. But that is one of my biggest pleasures is watching...


NP: Paul challenged.

LT: Thank God!

GN: No, I...

SP: That's deviant!

LT: That is wrong! I loved you...

PM: I don't think I've ever been saddened by any, touched me that this is one of the greatest pleasures that Graham has, watching his dog defecate in the park!

SP: He's really changed!

PM: You can see, it's true, you can see beauty in anything!

NP: Well yes I...

PM: I don't believe it is one of his greatest pleasures, is it!

GN: I feel I've misrepresented myself there!

PM: You have! You have!

NP: I think you have. But on the other hand, if you have to walk your doggy and you know he has to do his doos, you know, I mean, it might give you great pleasure to watch him doing...

GN: No, in fairness Nicholas, it doesn't give me great pleasure to watch them do it!

SP: Kind of like the ex Welsh secretary then.

NP: All right...

GN: No, in a side, in a sidebar, can I just add I do sometimes photograph them if they are very good!

SP: I can so see it! Can I add to that...

NP: I must now, I must tell our listeners, he has now brought out his mobile phone to show us all his dog doos! Paul I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and you've got in with one second to go starting now.

PM: The park...


NP: So Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He is now one point behind our leader Graham Norton, who actually, it is his turn to begin the next round. And oh Graham, a lovely one, my skin care routine. Will you tell us something about that in this game, 60 seconds starting now.

GN: My skin care routine has three main components. Firstly it is extremely time consuming, it is very expensive, but most of all, completely useless. How much worse could I look if I hadn't cleansed, exfoliated and moisturised for the many years...


NP: Liza challenged.

LT: Do you know what, I am doing the gentlemanly thing, because you did it for Sue at the beginning. And I think I should step up. You look beautiful!

SP: Yeah.

GN: Can I, can I just say, I believe I interrupted Sue a little quicker!

NP: Liza a correct challenge for hesitation, you have the subject of my skin care routine, 35 seconds available starting now.

LT: My skin care routine is elaborate. First of all I have to melt down some wax candles and add a bit of paraffin, then lie down and ask the dog to dribble it all over my face, and use a paint brush to get into all the nooks and crannies...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Does your dog know how to use a paint brush?

LT: Yes!

SP: That skill! I'd like to commend you.

LT: I gaffer tape it to his tail.

NP: What was your challenge within the rules of Just A Minute?

SP: Ah deviation.

NP: From what?

SP: Just from the sense of dogs being able to hold paint brushes. From a canine natural...

NP: Yes I've given Liza a benefit of the doubt. I give it to you because I don't believe you could do that Liza, your dog.

SP: I've seen what she can do with that animal! It's quite breath-taking!

LT: I'm finding you very narrow-minded tonight, Nicholas!

NP: Sue correct challenge, my skin care routine, 20 seconds, starting now.

SP: Once the cement mixer has been switched on I may begin. First the undercoat, sealed by sandpapering the rough folds. Then comes the top coat, I've repeated coat, let's say it again, coat...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Two coats.

NP: Two coats.

SP: It takes two coats at my age.

PM: It does take two coats.

NP: This time she very kindly told you, but Paul, you've got in there first, eight seconds, my skin care routine starting now.

PM: My skin care routine is a much guarded secret. People stop me in the street and they say, do tell us what your...


NP: So Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's one point ahead of Graham Norton, one point ahead of Sue Perkins, and then she's one point ahead of Liza Tarbuck. It's one separating them all in descending order. And Liza we'd like you to start the next round, the subject is the angel of the north. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

LT: There's a woman called Shirley Mangin who lives in Egberth in Liverpool who is known by the sailors of the Liverpool area...


LT: You see, I relaxed!

PM: Yes.

LT: Eejit!

PM: Repetition of Liverpool.

NP: There was too many Liverpools there.

LT: Yeah.

NP: Fifty-three seconds available Paul, the angel of the north starting now.

PM: The angel of the north constructed, designed, certainly by Anthony Gormley is there brilliantly as you head towards the north of east of England. And it stands as a magnificent structure of boldness, honesty. There's something about it that says I am a huge bit of metal. And that's what you have to recognise as a major achievement, public art that actual people in the area look at and say this is an inspiring monument. They sometimes come up to it in the middle of the night and genuflect in its shadow, although it must be by the moon because the sun would be gone down by then. Oh yes many folklore and songs are sung in the very presence of this incredible thrusting edifice. They gather by Christmas Day and sometimes by Easter. Little goblets of human beings encased in tiny glass jars, singing songs...


NP: So Paul Merton magnificently kept going till the whistle went, did over, about 40 or 50 seconds, I've forgotten which. And let me give you the situation, it's very very close actually. Liza Tarbuck and Sue Perkins are almost equal in third place. They're just behind Graham Norton in second place. Paul Merton is just in the lead as we go into the final round. And Paul it's actually your turn to begin. What a lovely subject to finish the show on, Broadcasting House. Ohhhh! Tell us something about Broadcasting House in this game starting now.

PM: This episode of Just A Minute is being recorded here in Broadcasting House. And the very room that we are in is indeed a space that has great historical antecedents. It was just after the Second World War that a radio show called Itma was broadcast from this very extension that we have of this building. The King and Queen of England attended it and it was considered a magnificent occasion. Broadcasting House was built...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Was that repetition of occasion?

PM: Could be.

NP: Yes it was occasion, there was more than one occasion.

PM: Yeah I think it was.

NP: There was an occasion when they came here, Itma. Sue you got in with 35 seconds, tell us something about Broadcasting House starting now.

SP: It is an extraordinary structure, an art deco edifice that speaks volumes. Within it, sometimes people speak eloquently for up to a minute...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: No it was my mistake, it was speak and speaks. Sorry.

NP: Yes that's right, speaking and speaks. So an incorrect challenge.

PM: Yeah.

NP: So not only have you got the benefit of the doubt, you've got it correctly.

SP: Oh good! And now look at me as you are saying that.

NP: Another point, 26 seconds, Broadcasting House starting now.

SP: Some of Radio Four's finest output comes from this exact space. You can listen to The News Quiz, Moral Maze, and my own personal favourite, that one about quotations with the man who sounds like he is having a seizure. Can't remember it now but everything's by GK Chesterton, a man who I have never read. Nonetheless it is perfect...


NP: Graham's challenged.

GN: Repetition of man.

PM: Yes there was.

NP: Yes.

GN: Repetition of man. There are three letters in the word, three, only three!

SP: I'm coming right back at you, Norton!

GN: Okay!

SP: Come on, do your worst!

NP: Correct challenge it was so nine seconds Graham, you tell us something about Broadcasting House starting now.

GN: The theatre of Broadcasting House where we are right now makes the audience feel so special! Unless you're in the balcony in which case...


NP: Well it is time for me to give you the final score, on this occasion it is ascending order. Only one point separating them all, Liza Tarbuck, then Sue Perkins, then Graham Norton, and then one point ahead Paul Merton, so we say Paul, you are our winner this week! But I said only one point separates them in ascending order and it just shows you how skilled they are at the game and how much they contribute. And I think you have enjoyed it all so I give my thanks to all four of them for what they gave in contribution to the show, Paul Merton, Liza Tarbuck, Sue Perkins and Graham Norton. We thank them. And also I thank Sarah Sharpe, who has helped me with the score, she has blown her whistle beautifully after the 60 seconds have 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 Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House. And so from our warm, responsive audience, and from me Nicholas Parsons, and our four delightful players of the game, good-bye, thank you for tuning in, but be with us the next time we play Just A Minute! Yes!