NOTE: David Mitchell's final 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 around the world. And also to welcome to the show this week four exciting, delightful, talented, and very humorous individuals who are going to play Just A Minute. And they are, seated on my right, Paul Merton and Gyles Brandreth. And seated on my left, Julian Clary and David Mitchell. Please welcome all four of them! And 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, who is going to help me with the score, blow the 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 that magnificent building, Broadcasting House in Portland Place. It doesn't mean a thing to the audience as they are already here and so let's begin the show. David Mitchell, would you begin the show for us this week, how to write a love letter. Sixty seconds starting now.

DAVID MITCHELL: I'm the very worst person to give advice on how to write a love letter. I don't think I've ever really tried, I'm not a romantic man. My letters are functional, to accountants, solicitors, full of business and self-absorption. But I expect a good way of writing a love letter would be to copy somebody else's poetry. Someone good but not too well-known. This is well available on the Internet. You can put love in and not just poetry will come up but some will be...


NP: Julian Clary you challenged.

JULIAN CLARY: Was it a repetition of poetry?

DM: That's what I was saying, you repeat someone else's poetry, yes.

NP: But that is repetition in Just A Minute, so Julian you have a correct challenge and you take over the subject of how to write a love letter, you have 30 seconds and the time starts now.

JC: What is essential in writing a love letter is to pour out your feelings from the heart directly on to the page. It's no good beating about the bush, if you'll pardon the expression. Honesty and sincerity and emotion is what the reader of the letter will be wanting to absorb. And possibly once they've en...


NP: Oh they wanted you to go on, Julian. Gyles you challenged.


NP: There was a hesitation yes.

JC: I was overcome with emotion.

PAUL MERTON: I was quite moved myself.

JC: Thank you.

NP: And the audience were, they were very quiet. Eight seconds Gyles, how to write a love letter starting now.

GB: How to write a love letter in the nude, start as you mean to finish, or at least as you hope that you might. Do it for...


NP: So Gyles Brandreth was speaking then when the whistle went, gained that extra point. And Gyles has two points at the end of the round, Julian has one, the others have yet to score. And Gyles would you begin the next round. The subject is my signature dish. Sixty seconds starting now.

GB: When it comes to a signature dish, alphabet soup is really the only one that delivers. And in my case G-Y-L-E-S-B-R-A-N-D, a couple of letters we may have heard before, T-H, beautifully created in pasta loops, can affect my signature. Dropped into a bouillon that has come lightly to the boil. This is the recipe given to me by Fanny Cradock who when she lived with Lionel...


NP: Julian Clary challenged.

JC: Um hesitation and the words seemed to all get mixed together.

GB: My mouth was full. I mentioned the bouillon, the pasta, I was tasting as I went.

JC: Yeah that's...

NP: So you think there was a hesitation where?

JC: Well the words seemed to all get mixed up in his mouth...

NP: I know they did.

JC: ... and they didn't make any sense.

NP: Well the trouble is Julian he didn't actually hesitate.

JC: Well I'll call it deviation then, because it didn't make sense.

NP: All right. It didn't make sense to you so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on this occasion and say you have 32 seconds on my signature dish starting now.

JC: My signature dish is a saveloy. People queue right around the block, their mouths watering. And I let them in, one at a time, for a taste. And people, are quite understandably...


NP: Paul what is...

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation, all right, you have the subject, 18 seconds, my signature dish starting now.

PM: My signature dish is rather wonderful, it's placing a bird inside another. First of all, you start with something as small as a quail, stuffed inside a pigeon. Then you move up, find a duck...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: You couldn't stuff a quail inside a pigeon.

PM: Course you could!

JC: Well the quail is bigger than a pigeon.

GB: No, a baby quail would be smaller than a...

NP: Yeah but he didn't say baby quail.

PM: Well I'm sorry if people were writing it down, but I should have been clearer.

NP: No I think...

PM: I didn't say the birds were actually dead. Did I not make that clear? It's very difficult to stuff a quail inside a pigeon when they are both flapping away.

NP: Or even when they are dead, it would be difficult.

PM: Exactly!

NP: Julian you have a correct challenge, seven seconds...

PM: What!

NP: Paul...

PM: This is a traditional recipe! Quail stuffed inside a pigeon!

GB: We didn't want a traditional recipe, did we, we wanted your signature dish.

PM: Yes, it's become such a tradition because I am so good at it.

NP: And you couldn't to my mind stuff a quail into a...

PM: I know where I'd like to stuff a quail inside!

NP: Dead or alive or even in Just A Minute, if you are being a fantasist. Right I think Julian has the benefit of the doubt, my signature dish is back with you Julian, seven seconds starting now.

JC: An iced ring is my signature dish...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Hesitation.

PM: Yeah.

JC: I don't, I don't recall hesitating.

GB: I'm so sorry, the mouth seemed full, there was hesitation, the whole thing.

NP: Now I'll tell you what I'll do. I did give him the benefit of the doubt against you because he said your mouth was too full of words. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt now so it's fair dos all round. My signature dish Gyles is back with you and it's four seconds starting now.

GB: Chili con lobster is an extraordinary dish to create. When I do it...


NP: So Gyles Brandreth was speaking then when the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now moved into the lead, ahead of Julian Clary. And Julian we'd like you to begin the next round. What to do when you oversleep, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

JC: What to do when you oversleep is to totally ignore the fact that you were late. I used to breeze into school an hour and a half late and the monks...


NP: Paul challenged. No, Gyles challenged.

GB: Repetition of late.

NP: Oh yes.

JC: Yes you're correct.

NP: Gyles you listened well, 52 seconds, what to do when you oversleep starting now.

GB: As the Book of Proverbs teaches us, a little sleep, a touch of slumber, the folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a vagabond and wont as an armed man. Oversleeping is a sin, a disease, a worldwide disaster. It's why we are all creeping towards the abyss. The revolting fact of oversleeping sweeps the nation...


NP: Paul challenged. Gyles I must stop you there, you've been challenged.

GB: I don't know that my nerves could take it!

NP: You've come off your rostrum and... Paul what was your challenge?

PM: Well we're not all creeping towards the abyss. I'm going to a very nice restaurant after this. I'm not creeping towards the abyss. Are you creeping... oh, never mind!

NP: No, not all of us are creeping towards the abyss.

PM: No.

NP: No, so that is deviation.

PM: Some of us, some of us are straddling it!

NP: Thirty-three seconds Paul, what to do when you oversleep starting now.

PM: What to do when you oversleep is to pretend to the world that they are wrong and you are in fact right. Walk in to work and look your manager straight in the eye and say "haha ah hahaha..."


NP: David.

DM: Well the repetition of ha, I think.

NP: Yeah.

PM: It was a very funny moment.

NP: Right David, you have the subject now, what to do when you oversleep, you have 22 seconds starting now.

DM: Blame the Tube basically. The unreliable nature of our public transport is a fantastic aide to the sleeper because you can always claim that some disaster has befallen you on some line or other. I don't know how people...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Repetition of some.

NP: Oh yes, it comes up, right, 11 seconds Julian, what to do when you oversleep starting now.

JC: When you oversleep, throw yourself on the mercy of the authorities. But whatever you do, don't skimp on personal hygiene, because it is important to deodorise, exfoliate...


NP: So Julian was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now moved into the lead over Gyles, Paul and David. And Paul it's your turn to begin, the subject is blowing the whistle on someone. Sixty seconds starting now.

PM: The next door neighbour to me is a full-time football referee and the other day I blew his whistle out in the back garden. And some pigeons that were playing football over the back suddenly realised that one of them was offside. Then they got a quail and stuffed it inside one of them and the other one said "get hold of a duck". And they got hold of this particular duck and that went inside a chicken...


PM: Then it went inside a turkey, then it went inside a dotterel and then it went inside Nicholas Parsons.

NP: You're not going to let it lie are you.

PM: No, I'm enjoying it!

NP: So Julian you challenged first.

JC: It was repetition of hold.

NP: You did say hold.

PM: Did I?

NP: Hold the duck and hold the pigeon. Fair enough, 42 seconds Julian, it's back with you, blowing the whistle on someone starting now.

JC: I like nothing more than having my whistle blown on a Friday night. And we play football in the open air, it's lit...


PM: (laughs loudly) I'm sorry, the idea of Julian playing football in the open air... he's, he's not one of the most sporty of gentlemen.

NP: I know he isn't.

PM: So deviation, I don't think he's ever played football in the open air.

JC: Oh yes I have.

NP: He could well have done. He may not be the most sporty of people but he has probably done this.

PM: Has he?

NP: You could have had him for hesitation.

PM: No, I didn't that time.

NP: I know you didn't. So Julian that was an incorrect challenge...

JC: Thank you! I won't have my sportiness discussed in this fashion.

NP: Right, 36 seconds on blowing the whistle on someone, Julian starting now.

JC: I'm ever such a sporty young man. I've... heard many a whistle...


GB: There was a hesitation.

NP: There was a hesitation yes, 32 seconds Gyles, blowing the whistle on someone starting now.

GB: I was a Member of Parliament until the people blew the whistle on me. A hundred and eight-two thousand, seven hundred and thirty-two individuals got up on the same day and began whistling. This terrible sound and I knew my time was up. They didn't like me, they weren't going to love me, they wanted me out...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Repetition of me.

NP: Me, yes.

GB: Oh yes me.

NP: There was a bit too much of me in there.

GB: The old old problem.

NP: Mmmmm, 17 seconds, Julian, blowing the whistle on someone starting now.

JC: I was playing rugby the other day and I heard this, I heard this shrill sound. And it was the referee blowing his whistle. He summoned me to the sideline, he said "really you ought to be playing for the county..."


NP: David challenged.

PM: You must have misheard!

DM: Well if he's playing, he's a referee and you're playing, why did you get summoned to the... it would be the linesman who would summon you to the sideline.

JC: No no, the referee...

DM: He'd talk to you on the pitch.

JC: He stopped the game in order to have a private word with me about my prowess, my rugby playing talents.

NP: I think David's got a point. The referee does it there and then, on the spot. He doesn't call you to the sideline.

JC: No, he's...

DM: You don't both wander off to the sidelines for a chat.

JC: Well you weren't there, I was!

NP: No I think that's...

PM: What position do you play in rugby?

JC: I'm a hooker!

PM: I feel as though the last 35 years of my professional career was leading up to that one moment!

NP: So David you take the subject, you have four seconds, blowing the whistle on someone starting now.

DM: Blowing the whistle on someone is when you realise something...


NP: Well David Mitchell was speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point. He's now moved forward, he's in third place, ahead of Paul Merton. And then up the scale is Gyles Brandreth and then Julian Clary still in the lead. David, we'd like you to begin the next round, the subject is barking. Can you tell us something about barking in this game starting now.

DM: There's an expression that ah goes something...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Hesitation.

DM: Actually...

NP: There was a hesitation.

DM: There was a hesitation, and it elicited pity!

NP: I can see something very amusing and pithy was just about to tumble out.

DM: Yeah, or at least coherent.

NP: Fifty-eight seconds Julian, barking starting now.

JC: I have two dogs called Valerie and Albert, and they like to go barking. Albert's got a slightly...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Albert has been repeated twice.

PM: Yes.

NP: Yes. So Gyles, 52 seconds, barking starting now.

GB: I have got the most versatile cat in London. It barks. It keeps eating cheese sandwiches too so that it can sit by the mousehole with bated breath. Its gifts are endless. It's a chihuahua really, in disguise as a pussy...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of hua.

NP: But it is written as one word.

PM: Is it?

NP: No I have to give the benefit of the doubt to Gyles, 38 seconds, barking starting now.

GB: The best barking dog I ever knew was Fido. A French poodle spelt P-H-Y-D-E-A-U-X. There was another in my house, a mongrel who thought he was called Down Boy. The noise that these animals made when they were barking was extraordinary. They did it when Paul Merton came around for tea. Then that was a moment very special in my life because we always laid out sandwiches for the great man to eat and enjoy...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Well he's deviating now.

GB: No.

PM: No no no, it's fair, no, it all happened. I am considered a great man in the Brandreth household but then the competition isn't fierce!

NP: So Gyles you get a point because it was an incorrect challenge. But Paul gets a bonus point because we enjoyed what he said. And you have the subject of barking still and 15 seconds starting now.

GB: Barking is the one place that I have always wanted to live. I of course...


NP: David.

DM: Deviation, of course it isn't.

GB: We established earlier that I was a man of the people.

DM: No, you said earlier you were a man of the people. That's far from establishing it!

GB: Can I say I feel the freedom of Barking coming upon me any minute now. If the Mayor is listening, I'd love to visit. Briefly.

NP: David you have a correct challenge, 11 seconds, barking starting now.

DM: There's an expression, I don't know who said it first, why keep a dog and bark yourself. The answer I suppose is because you enjoy it or you're mad. I think there must be a wonderful release in going around the...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: It's a bit harsh but there was a bit of a hesitation.

NP: No I don't think so.

PM: Don't you think so.

NP: No no no.

PM: Don't you really.

NP: I think you, I think he was flowing.


PM: What's it got to do with you?

NP: Again what I do is I give the benefit of the doubt. And I always redress it sometimes. And so the benefit of the doubt goes to David on this occasion, he still has barking and he has one second only and his time starts now.

DM: Running around the streets...


NP: Right so David Mitchell speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And he has moved forward and he's only two points behind Gyles and he's two points behind Julian, and they're all a few points ahead of Paul. Julian it's with you again to begin. The subject now is a man in uniform. Would you tell us something...


NP: I don't know why you are laughing! A man in uniform, tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

JC: I love doing gigs in Portsmouth because the streets are full of seamen! And men in uniform. And they march along in very formal manner, their medals chinking on their breasts. And occasionally they doff their cap to you. And if you smile politely, you may entice them into a public house for some refreshment and a sandwich. Men in uniform are always very polite and very very busy...


NP: David.

DM: Oh repetition of very.

NP: Right, 32 seconds David, you have the subject of a man in uniform starting now.

DM: A man in uniform is a way of making people respect an office, despite whatever idiocy is contained within the brain of the uniform person. And this is a... oh!


NP: Gyles you challenged.

GB: There was a little hesitation.

NP: There was a hesitation. Gyles you have a man in uniform, you have 21 seconds starting now.

GB: I like a man in uniform. I spend a lot of time in the lift at Harrod's as a consequence, because travelling up you see an elderly gentleman who clearly was in the Armed Forces during the late hostilities wearing with pride his uniform. And I think as he polishes his medals and opens ah the door...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well there was a slight, there was a slight hesitation.

NP: There was a definite hesitation.

GB: Oh there was, there was.

NP: You could have had him for deviation too.

PM: Yes.

NP: The man wouldn't wear his uniform from the Army at Harrod's, he'd have the Harrod's uniform on.

PM: Yeah yeah.

DM: Harrod's didn't fight in the war, you know Gyles! They were, I think, they remained neutral!

NP: Right Paul you have a correct challenge and you have four seconds on a man in uniform starting now.

PM: The Salvation Army stand outside the cinema in resplendent...


NP: So Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. It's a very even contest, only one point separates all of them, David, Paul, Gyles, Julian in that sequence going upwards. Paul we are back with you to begin. I am a bit nervous of this one, knowing the way that you always have a go at me, in the nicest possible way.

PM: Oh of course.

NP: Yes.

PM: Let's forget about the injunction!

NP: It's called our chairman's darkest secret. You have 60 seconds starting now.

PM: Our chairman's darkest secret is that he is mentioned in the Bible as one of the horsemen of the pocalypse.


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: A hesitation on that wonderful word, pocalypse.

PM: Yeah.

GB: And also deviation, the word is apocalypse I think, not pocalypse.

PM: I had a very cheap Bible. It wasn't very well printed, the As are missing.

NP: Our chairman's darkest secret, 53 seconds starting now.

GB: He has webbed feet! He is a merman! That is the extraordinary thing about Nicholas...


NP: Julian you challenged.

JC: Well you don't, you haven't got webbed feet, have you?

GB: How do you know? How do you know?

JC: It's deviation.

NP: I'll get them out and show them all if you want to.


PM: That's a very uncertain nose, isn't it. Frightened of what you might be wishing for!

NP: I can assure, I couldn't walk as well as I do, I couldn't have played all the games I've done, you know.

PM: You're a keen sportsman, just like Julian, a very keen sportsman.

NP: Yes I think I am a little bit better than Julian actually.

PM: Do you?

JC: Right, arm wrestling now!

NP: Oh I wouldn't do that, I can see how strong you are in the arms. Our chairman's darkest secret, Julian you have 48 seconds starting now.

JC: Nicholas has got several dark secrets. The first one being the many evenings he's spent on the time with Amy Winehouse, knocking back drinks. And the other very dark secret...


PM: Slight hesitation.

NP: There was a slight hesitation. So you've got the subject back again Paul, our chairman's darkest secret, 37 seconds starting now.

PM: Janice Wilkins is a name you wouldn't normally associate with our man in the middle. But if you go to a certain address in Wolthamstowe on a Friday night, you will see a shadowy figure emerge from the shadows. And that particular person will be none other than the gentleman you see in front of you now. He doesn't always wear these rather garish jackets which were at one time popular, around about 1986. He is cloaked in mystery and intrigue as he sniffs the air in London's East End waiting for his next victim. Yes he's dressed as a woman but he is also a vampire...


NP: And you applaud him!

PM: It had the smack of truth!

NP: And all that fantasy. Right Paul you were speaking as the whistle went, you gained that extra point. You're now equal with Julian in second place, Gyles is one point ahead and David is a couple of points behind. And David we are back with you to begin and the subject is traffic calming, 60 seconds starting now.

DM: Traffic calming is something that councils attempt in order to make rush hours less bad. But it never works, there is nothing calm about traffic. If you've ever got a cab during a busy time of day, the driver, despite the fact that every day he sees traffic...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Repetition of day.

NP: You had day earlier on, yes, 45 seconds Julian, traffic calming starting now.

JC: When I used to work as a traffic policeman, I would stand in the middle of the road saying "calm down everybody, where's the rush, have one of these drinks and it'll..."


NP: Gyles.

GB: Hesitation.

NP: Yes there was.

GB: Stumbled and fumbled.

NP: Thirty-five seconds, traffic calming starting now.

GB: The worst of these traffic calming measures is the so-called sleeping policeman. As you bump and hump over this creature, you feel increasingly sick. Vomit in fact is the result of traffic calming. All over the land there are cars actually awash with spewtum and excretion because of traffic calming. It makes the...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Do you think that statement can go unchallenged?

NP: No I think...

PM: It hardly makes a trip to the shops worth it really, does it.

NP: I don't think it can go unchallenged, and you challenged...

PM: I did.

NP: ... and I agree with you. Deviation.

PM: Deviation, absolutely.

NP: Right, 17 seconds Paul, traffic calming starting now.

PM: They realise now the science of traffic calming is you mustn't put up so many signs to distract the motorists. The most important aspect is to make sure that the driver and the pedestrian can make eye contact. As human beings we become aware of where the other person is...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Oh I was, it was just, the words rhymed!

PM: The words rhymed?

JC: Its ah, it's an new rule that's just come in.

PM: Is it?

JC: Can't have rhyming words unfortunately.

NP: Can't have rhyming words! And I can't even give you a bonus point for what you said. But it's lovely! So Paul you have an incorrect challenge, you still have the subject and you have one second only, traffic calming starting now.

PM: Bankers...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, he's now taken the lead, one ahead of Gyles Brandreth. And he's one ahead of Julian Clary and he's two or three ahead of David Mitchell. It's very close! And it's the value they all give, it's nothing to do with the points really. And we are moving into the final round. Gyles, a nice topical one here for London, Nelson's column. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

GB: Nelson's column is the mighty Corinthian column that stands in the centre of Trafalgar Square. Built in 1814 in honour of Horatio Nelson who is 18 foot tall up there whereas as a man he was but five or so of the same amount of depth...


NP: Paul.

PM: He was the same amount of depth? Deviation. Dreadful! National hero, the same amount of depth! Outrageous!

GB: I was describing him in a hole.

PM: You're in a hole! You're in the hole.

GB: I was looking down... yes all right.

NP: No I don't think you can get out of this one Gyles.

GB: I didn't want to repeat foot you see, that was what I was trying to avoid.

NP: You did avoid that.

GB: I did.

NP: You should have said height.

GB: Yeah indeed or I should have said metre one time and feet the next. Wise after the event, it's no use at all, is it.

PM: That's quite handy from where I am sitting.

NP: So Paul you have Nelson's column, you have 41 seconds starting now.

PM: Nelson's column stands in the middle of Trafalgar Square. he is above it all. Perhaps the noise of traffic doesn't reach to the very top of Nelson's column, I don't know. I remember seeing John Noakes of Blue Peter climbing up Nelson's column when it didn't have health and safety or indeed insurance. I'm scared of heights. I would hate to be right there where he was standing on Nelson's column. I understand that if you look down to the ground that is beneath you it is extraordinarily difficult to keep your head on your shoulders. I have vertigo. This...


NP: David challenged.

DM: What do you mean it is difficult if you look down to keep your head on your shoulders?

PM: Yes!

DM: Deviation from truth.

PM: If you go like that...

DM: Your head won't fall off!

PM: That's the fear.

DM: It's an unfounded fear.

PM: I said I had vertigo, that's part of the fear, your head is going to fall off your shoulders.

NP: You said it afterwards.

PM: I don't go to a bowling alley.

NP: No, you said, you said, you said about your head falling off before you mentioned vertigo.

PM: Yeah.

NP: And anyway it it is a fear, it is not what will actually happen. And I think that's what David is actually challenging on.

PM: Oh so I'm all right then? My head won't fall off my shoulders?

NP: No no...

PM: I feel cured!

NP: You said your head would fall off your shoulders, it wouldn't.

PM: No.

NP: And that is deviation and David's right, he has a correct challenge, he has six seconds on Nelson's column starting now.

DM: When I look at Nelson's column, I sometimes wonder if the person that designed it hated Nelson, because you can't really see him properly...


NP: So let me give you the final score then. David Mitchell did extremely well but he's in fourth place. Julian Clary was in second, then it was Gyles Brandreth. And a few points ahead of all of them was Paul Merton, so we say this week, Paul Merton, you are our winner. So it only remains for me to say thank you to these four fine players of the game, Paul Merton, Gyles Brandreth, Julian Clary and David Mitchell. I thank Sarah Sharpe, who has helped me with the score, blown her whistle so delicately. And we also thank our producer Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And we are also indebted to this lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre who have cheered us on our way magnificently, made us feel cheerful. I hope they've enjoyed themselves, we have. And so from the audience, from me Nicholas Parsons and the team up here, good-bye, and tune in the next time we play Just A Minute!