starring PAUL MERTON, SUE PERKINS, LIZA TARBUCK and JOHN SERGEANT, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 6 September 2010)

NOTE: John Sergeant's last radio 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 not only in this country but throughout the world. But also to welcome to the programme four exciting, delightful and talented players of this game. Sitting on my right we have Paul Merton and Liza Tarbuck. And sitting on my left, it's Sue Perkins and John Sergeant. Beside me sits Trudi Stevens, who is going to help me keep the score, and blow the whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And this particular edition is coming from the Radio Theatre, in the heart of Broadcasting House at the end of Great Portland Street in London West One. And we begin the show with Paul Merton. The subject is how to audition, 60 seconds, starting now.

PAUL MERTON: Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York and all the clouds that lowered upon our house, in the deep bosom of the ocean buried. I auditioned for Rada back in the 1970s and that was the Shakespeare speech I did. I wasn't very good but there was something about the audition process that I enjoyed. It was being examined by professional eyes so even though I didn't get into that ah er...


NP: Sue Perkins you challenged.

PM: I fell down on speech.

SUE PERKINS: Hesitant stumbling.

PM: Stumbling, I was all right when I was talking Shakespeare!

SP: Yeah.

NP: I know.

PM: There's a lesson in that!

SP: I'd have given you the job to be honest.

PM: Yeah. I would have done as well. They were looking for a caretaker, that was unfortunate.

NP: Sue, correct challenge, we call that stumble hesitation so you have 32 seconds and you tell us how to audition starting now.

SP: The best way I've found to get a job when I've been auditioning is to ask the director if I may participate in the casting couch whereupon they look with abject horror, ask the small blonde girl and give me the job, just so they don't have to see me lying, or reclining on that said piece of sexual apparatus. I think possibly the best way now is just be good. The old fashioned way of doing something sincerely and properly...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: There was a repetition of two ways.

NP: Well listened Paul, correct challenge, you have 11 seconds, you've got the subject back again, how to audition starting now.

PM: Later on I tried some words from Look Back In Anger written in 1956 by John Osborne, one of the original angry young men. And...


NP: Liza challenged.

LIZA TARBUCK: Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish! Anger and angry. I was a just bit too eager on the buzzer. Is that a point off?

NP: No.

LT: I was too eager.

NP: No, I love it when we get too eager. But it's an incorrect challenge so Paul has another point and he has the subject and there are only two seconds left Paul, how to audition starting now.

PM: I would like to mention angina because that's...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking as the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Paul Merton and it doesn't surprise you to hear he is in the lead at the end of that round. Liza will you begin the next round, the subject is a fortune teller. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

LT: About 10 years ago I had the need in me to consult a fortune teller. I took myself off to a woman who had been recommended to, and I found her...


NP: John challenged.

JOHN SERGEANT: A woman who had been recommended to. It's not English!

LT: You're absolutely right.

SP: She was actually consulting the fortune teller about that exact problem John, and you've just brought it back.

NP: John I agree, it is actually English, but what you are saying is not correct grammar.

LT: Rubbish is what I am saying.

JS: English is grammar isn't it.

SP: I'm in the wrong show! I just walked into Quote Unquote!

NP: John, as you haven't played it quite as often as the others, I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll be generous and say yeah it's a correct challenge and you have the subject and 51 seconds, a fortune teller starting now.

JS: A fortune teller usually has to give you good news, because you go to a fortune teller to be cheered up. They know this, they realise when you come in you've got a problem. The difficulty is you arrive at a fortune teller and you don't have a real angst inside you. Then they get really worried you're putting them under an enormous test because they wonder what is it about this creep that has forced him to come into my little place with my little crystal ball...


NP: Right Paul challenged.

PM: Yes before we all lapsed into a coma! I think the ah... can someone open a window? Repetition of little.

NP: Two littles there John yes. I mean you do have a very seductive voice that does make you doze a bit.

JS: This isn't one of those panel shows, is it, where the new girl gets torn apart, is it.

NP: We don't tear you apart but we do have fun at each other's expense.

JS: Yes.

NP: That puts it quite nicely. Paul, correct challenge, 19 seconds, a fortune teller starting now.

PM: One night on Black Heath, I walked towards this tent. The moonlight shimmered off the canvas as I realised that inside was Madam Acartie, a woman who could see beyond the ordinary measures of our time and space. She was a clairvoyant, she was able to tell me...


NP: So Paul Merton was again speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And has increased his lead at the end of that round. And John we'd like you to begin the next round, this has obviously been chosen specially for you, the subject is two to tango. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

JS: Two to tango, what a very boring subject! The next thing people are going to talk about is Strictly Come Dancing...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Hesitation.

NP: That was a definite hesitation.

JS: Was it?

SP: Sorry John.

JS: Good, excellent, that's got me out of it. That what I wanted.

NP: Sue Perkins you tell us something about two to tango starting now.

SP: It takes two to tango unless you're John Sergeant in which case it takes 47,000 people. Movement, choreography, a winch, some several dancers littering the place, disporting themselves to make him look like the gyrating god that he is. Some may have said he didn't quite have the chutzpah necessary to carry off those tight tights. However I was one of the viewers who phoned in time after time...


SP: That's a repetition of time.

NP: Liza you picked it up first.

LT: Time after time.

SP: Elementary, Susan.

NP: Time after time, right. So there are 30 seconds Liza, you tell us something about two to tango starting now.

LT: It takes two to tango is a wonderful phrase, really conveying that one might have an idea, but being bucked up by a second person could really see that thought be carried out into an actual, tangible object. For example, if it was a project, maybe you had an idea that something would work. The other person, the second person...


LT: Oh!

NP: Sue challenged.

SP: There's a repetition of person.

NP: Yes.

SP: It was very philosophical.

PM: Yeah I was taking notes!

NP: Eleven seconds Sue, you tell us something about two to tango starting now.

SP: Yes the tango is magnificent but who wants to see the foxtrot. I know I did. Seeing his dance partner whose name alludes me because she was trying to do it properly and was therefore no fun whatsoever. I can't remember the name, however...


NP: So Sue Perkins speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, she's moved forward, she's one behind Paul Merton who is still in the lead. And then John Sergeant and Liza Tarbuck both have one apiece. And Sue will you begin the next round. The subject, what shall we do with a drunken sailor. There are 60 seconds starting now.

SP: What shall we do with a drunken sailor? What shall we do with a drunken sailor? What shall we do with a drunken sailor? Put him on The Jeremy Kyle Show where of course they are doing a drunken marine special and of course he will be forced to take a DNA test because a transsexual prostitute will at one point have claimed that while he was on the sauce on voyage, he met...


NP: John challenged.

JS: Hesitation on the sauce.

NP: A hesitation?

JS: Yeah.

NP: She goes quicker than anybody else on the show!

SP: We can take him! We can take him! Go on!

NP: No John, you're very keen, but I don't, I always encourage keenness but that was a bit too keen.

JS: All right.

NP: Forty seconds still available Sue for what shall we do with a drunken sailor starting now.

SP: Of course it comes from a maritime rhyme, a sea shanty if you will. I don't know much of it apart from the fact it's earlie in the morning, which I presume is early in the morning. One never knows. What...


NP: Paul challenged.

SP: Oh you buffoon!

PM: Ah repetition of in the morning.

NP: Yes.

SP: Yes that would be it, wouldn't it.

NP: Yes. So Paul you've got the subject, there are 30 seconds available, what shall we do with a drunken sailor starting now.

PM: I don't really remember what the answer was in this particular song. But I do recall that we had to sing it during music lessons when I was about nine or 10 years old. And Sue has already given us the tune. But I seem to remember there was something about clap him in irons with a hosepipe in him, or something like that. But whatever you think should happen today, the Royal Navy looks upon drunkenness amongst its recruits severely. They do not like it at all. They would much prefer if you were er...


PM: I don't know what they prefer!

NP: Liza you challenged.

LT: Just a little bit of hesitation.

NP: Yes that was hesitation. And you've cleverly got in with four seconds to go Liza...

LT: Thank the Lords!

NP: ... on what shall we do with a drunken sailor starting now.

LT: My favourite er sea shanty...


LT: Oh! I'm a... did you see what I did to myself? Silly stupid girl!

SP: At least you're not repeating time.

PM: It was a hesitation I'm afraid.

LT: It was.

NP: It was hesitation.

PM: It was.

LT: Come on, it's a game!

PM: Lucky it's not a profession!

LT: I'd be skint!

NP: Paul, it's a game and we love playing games. Two seconds for you, what shall we do with a drunken sailor starting now.

PM: Rum, whisky, brandy, to be avoided at all costs.


NP: So Paul Merton was again speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's moved forward, he's still in the lead. And Liza Tarbuck it's your turn to begin. And the subject now is the worst thing about the 1980s. And there are 60 seconds starting now.

LT: Well apart from Exxon Valdez and Bhopal, the assassination of John Lennon, luminous socks, cabbage patch kids, Miami Vice, the fashion influence of the programme Dynasty, Joe Dolce, St Winifred's School Choir... ah apart...


NP: Very good. No that was a great effort there Liza but unfortunately you paused and Sue got in first. Forty-one seconds, the worst thing about the 1980s Sue starting now.

SP: The worst thing about the 1980s was the jumper my mother gave me which was Batwing if you are trying to be technically specific. However it made me look as if my arns merely went from my wrist to my hips and I was trying to break the land speed record. It was in puce, not a colour fashionable then or indeed now. And embossed on the front, Snoopy. I never liked that particular character. I have a fondness for dogs, it's fair to say. But not ones that are plastic and over my hooters. So I went into school on the one day of the year we were allowed to wear our own clothes, and the great thing was about that cartoon animated figure on my chest is that people knew where to aim for when they were throwing things at me...


NP: So Sue Perkins, with points in the round and also one for speaking when the whistle went. And Paul your turn to begin, will you take this subject now, oh yes, a lovely one, a poker face. Sixty seconds starting now.

PM: Lady Gaga's hit, I suppose that's repetition. She...


PM: I said Gaga's, you see, Gaga's. Not Gaga, Gaga's.

SP: I was going, I was thinking there was a bit of hesitation after Gaga's.

PM: Yeah.

NP: No I don't think there was actually.

PM: Really?

NP: No. I'm afraid it isn't repetition because it's all one word.

SP: No that is true, Gaga wasn't repetition.

NP: There's two words. No no, right, if anybody wants to write in about that, please don't send the letters to me. So an incorrect challenge to you, Paul you've still got a poker face, 57 seconds starting now.

PM: I don't play poker, but a poker face is prized amongst the players that do indulge in this particular card game. If people do not read the expression on your face, they can't tell whether you have the winning hand or a losing one. That as far as I can tell is what poker means. That's tell twice...


PM: Three times.

NP: Sue spotted it.

SP: Repetition of tell three times.

PM: Tell three times.

NP: Forty-one seconds Sue, a poker face starting now.

SP: You need to be inscrutable, you need to have a visage...


NP: Liza challenged.

LT: Two needs.

NP: Two needs.

SP: I'm very needy.

LT: Two many needs.

NP: Thirty-six seconds Liza, a poker face with you starting now.

LT: One of my favourite givers of a poker face was Captain Mainwaring or Mannering off of Dad's Army. His joyful visage sometimes was the source of much rib-tickling in our house.


LT: Rib-tickling? I'm clearly mad!

NP: It's wonderful the things that come out under pressure on this. I mean verbally, I'm talking about.

LT: I was going to say! Speak for yourself!

NP: Sue you challenged.

SP: There was obviously such a fond childhood but playful memory, some would say, of the rib-tickling. But there was quite a long pause after it.

NP: There definitely was. Right you have 23 seconds, tell us something about a poker face starting now.

SP: Say you've got a flush, your face mustn't do the same. You've got to keep it real. No-one in the room must know that underneath that incredibly calm exterior lurks the beating heart of an imminent champion. Thankfully I am not possessed of such a poker face, otherwise I'd play the game more frequently than I do and would be bankrupt. For though I could possibly keep my eyebrows from moving. unfortunately I've got a twitchy nostril which gives it away and whenever I lie, there it goes...


NP: So Sue Perkins, another point as the whistle went, is creeping up on Paul Merton again which is an interesting situation even on radio. Only one point behind him, the other two are trailing a little. And Liza it's your turn to begin, the subject now is music lessons. tell us something about that in the game starting now.

LT: It's a great thing, an accomplishment for a young girl to have music lessons. Because it means that she's got something to talk about when being introduced to her accomplished family. Oh let Liza play the guitar for you, she is wonderful at it! Sadly the said instrument was a little bit too big, and the teacher in question was half a pervert. I didn't last very long! However I do wish I had learnt the harp. Failing that...


NP: Sue what's your challenge?

SP: Repetition of learnt.

NP: Yes that's right, there were two learnts.

LT: Two learnts. I should have said learned.

PM: I'm intrigued by this half a pervert concept.

SP: Yeah can you have...

PM: Did he take weekends off?

NP: Sue a correct challenge, 36 seconds, music lessons Sue starting now.

SP: I had piano lessons with a whole pervert. He had one tooth and he whistled sibilantly every time he tried to reprimand me, which was frequently because I was rubbish. Scales, endless arpeggios, chords, never learned a children. I would watch people who didn't learn with the half a sex maniac...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of learn.

NP: No, it was learned and learn.

PM: Oh was it? Oh.

NP: Yes.

PM: Oh sorry.

SP: You've lost none of your rigour, Nicholas!

NP: No.

PM: Fair enough. Fair enough.

NP: Right, Sue, an incorrect challenge, 17 seconds, music lessons starting now.

SP: So odd was he that I decided to take up the flute. Now there is no reason on earth why you would want to play that particular instrument. Hardly the sort of thing you'd want to get out at the end of a riotous party and have a go on. It's no good. What can you do apart from play What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor? No-one wants to hear that, it's not cool, it's not funny...


NP: Right Paul challenged.

PM: It was it's not, twice.

NP: It's not. It's not cool, it's not funny. Oh Paul you've got in with one second to go on music lessons starting now.

PM: I studied the piano at...


NP: So Paul Merton again was speaking as the whistle went, gained that all important, not all important, but that extra point. And he is just keeping one ahead of Sue Perkins and a few more ahead of John Sergeant and Liza Tarbuck. And whose turn is it to begin? I think it's probably yours John, yes it is. Oh here we are, a good one for you John, dinner party etiquette. You have 60 seconds starting now.

JS: Dinner party etiquette was taught to me by my mother as she was very strong on certain subjects. Ser... serviettes... oh!


SP: Hesitation.

NP: Yes a full stop, wasn't it.

JS: Hesitation, I was just thinking about my mother and I was thinking how awful it all was. I was suddenly thrown back to my childhood...

SP: I feel terrible!

JS: You know it was, it was quite a moment there.

SP: Yeah.

JS: So I hesitated, my mother came into my mind.

SP: Was it serviettes, serviette abuse?

JS: No she, she...

NP: No, they were called napkins then.

JS: But also if you said serviettes she would just stiffen so much! The whole dinner would be ruined.

SP: So you should say napkins.

JS: You should certainly say...

SP: After the show we'll rock and cradle you and just get a sense of wholeness going.

JS: No, just talk me through it all over again!

NP: You should have kept all that in the show, John. Unfortunately Sue got in with a correct challenge of hesitation, 52 seconds Sue, dinner party etiquette starting now.

SP: I know very little about this subject. Having said that, I have a vague recollection you pass the port to the right and transfer the vimto from the left. That's all I remember. Usually...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: I don't know much about these things but isn't that deviation? Doesn't the port pass to the left?

NP: It is. It's passed to the left.

PM: Is it?

SP: I told you, at least I was honest. I mean do I get a point? I'm just cretinous and ill mannered.

NP: So well listened and correct challenge yes. Port goes down the left, and there's an easy way to remember, I always say...

PM: Yes?

NP: On a ship, the left-hand side is the port side.

PM: Oh yeah.

NP: It doesn't make any difference, you couldn't care less, could you? Forty-one seconds, dinner party etiquette is with you Paul starting now.

PM: Never sit the Earl of Gloucester next to the Duchess of Devonshire! Because the Duchess of Devonshire is a pub in the East End...


PM: I don't care, I had to say it twice for the sake of it. I didn't care! I wasn't going to say the afore-mentioned. Never mind all that!

NP: Liza you challenged first, yes repetition.

LT: Two Duchesses.

NP: Thirty-two seconds...

PM: Two Duchesses.

LT: Don't make a right!

PM: No.

NP: Liza, dinner party etiquette starting now.

LT: My dinner party etiquette requires you to have a very large drink when you come into my house, and then a few nibbles and crudites, possibly a dip, and I'll cater for every diet. If you were to tell me, you're allergic to wheat, that's fine by me. I'll give you celery and some wasabi and pea dip. If you were...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: We've had a double, we've had two dips.

NP: You've got two dips.

LT: A double dipper!

NP: Yeah.

SP: Haven't you heard, it's a double dip.

LT: Two Duchesses and a double dip.

PM: Yeah.

LT: Over here.

NP: Paul...

JS: We also had two if you weres, I'm afraid.

NP: You should have challenged John.

JS: It came immediately afterwards.

LT: We don't get too pedantic on this game, Uncle John.

JS: I know, we'll talk afterwards.

SP: Don't mention the serviettes!

SP: Yeah, that as well.

NP: Twenty seconds Paul, for dinner party etiquette starting now.

PM: I haven't been to a dinner party since I was about 30 years old. It seems a very long time indeed. But while I was growing...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Is that deviation then?

NP: Why?

SP: If you haven't been to a dinner party in so long, you wouldn't know contemporary dinner etiquette.

NP: It doesn't matter.

SP: Well just testing.

NP: You can still know it. You can study it, you can read it, you can be instructed in it. You needn't actually have experienced it.

SP: Thank you Yoda!

PM: Moments of great wisdom!

NP: Sometimes you look at me, sometimes you look at me Sue and say "what's the wally going on about?"

SP: As I said, I don't have a very good poker face.

NP: So Paul, incorrect challenge, 14 seconds, dinner party etiquette starting now.

PM: You have to remember where the knife and fork goes, either side of the plate. And you should start by using the outward utensil. That was one thing that I was taught when I went to my first dinner party, after I had reached a magnificent time in my life...


NP: Right so Paul Merton was again speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's moved forward, he's about three or four ahead of Sue Perkins, and he's far more than that ahead of Liza Tarbuck and John Sergeant. But there's a lot of time to go yet. Sue we'd like you to begin the next round and the subject is my vegetable patch. tell us something about my vegetable patch starting now.

SP: My vegetable patch is one of the few things in life I am truly proud of. The first year I set it up, it was only good for thistles. And I had no donkey so no use. However when I embarked on the second season, great things happened. A little care and attention to the brassicas, staving off the cabbage white fly, seeing the club roots affecting the turnips and making sure that should I ever go again, all these problems would be eradicated in an organic and pesticide-free manner. I cannot tell you, cynical as I am, now my heart was gladdened as soon as I saw the tiny tendrils of the carrot first appear from the clods of earth that I had dug with my own patient hands. I didn't bother with a spade. Why do so when you can get your hands into the grubbiness of it all? Have you seen celery? I have! And it's not just stuff that you bought. No, it was carefully cossetted, all the millions of salads, the mesuna, rockets, the incredible cherry tomato...


NP: Well done!

JS: It should be said that Sue actually does have a vegetable garden.

SP: I do have a vegetable garden! I've cheered myself up now!

NP: A real tour de force, it really was.

SP: Thank you.

NP: As someone else who loves growing vegetables, I was with you every moment of the way. Living it all! You actually went for 60 seconds without being interrupted so you get a point for speaking as the whistle went and you get a bonus point for not being interrupted. And so you move forward and you're two behind Paul Merton who is in the lead.


NP: I don't know what is funny about that, it's a logical fact. So we've got the final round, we are back with you to begin Paul and 60 seconds are available as usual and the subject is prohibition. Tell us something about prohibition in this game starting now.

PM: The act of prohibition was passed in America in 1920 making it illegal for any one person to buy a drink. It was not a particularly successful law. It was repealed around 1933, I think...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Was that a repetition of law?

PM: I don't know. I wasn't listening, to be honest.

SP: I thought it was a law that was passed, um, a law that was passed in 1920 and...

NP: You're quite right, they passed a law in...

SP: And it wasn't a very successful law.

NP: And they repealed the law, right.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Well listened Sue, all right, only one point to go now, oohhh. Forty-nine seconds available, prohibition, with you Sue starting now.

SP: It was the time of the great depression. And the problem with such phases and economic downturns is that everyone wants a drink. It wasn't a very good idea...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well it wasn't the time of the great depression because it was from 1920, and the great depression was in 1929.

SP: He's right. It was about 10 years before the great depression.

PM: Yeah.

NP: That's right.

SP: It must have seen it coming and fancied a vodka.

PM: Yeah it did.

NP: I think it was brought to an end during the time of the great depression. So Paul a correct challenge and there are 42 seconds available, prohibition starting now.

PM: There's a Laurel and Hardy film called Pardon Us that was made early in the sound era. And they get sent to prison for trying to sell prohibited alcohol to an off-duty person. And this film, or as I said before, I might have actually said movie, I can't remember, was actually very redolent of what was happening in 1930s America. The very act of prohibition was an extraordinary success for the Purity Leagues which had been debating for many years that we should see the end of tobacco being smoked in public and also the Temperance Society and movement should have a full hold on what people were putting into their body. "Look," they said, "alcohol is no good for you". Why not instead look...


NP: So Paul Merton brought that round to an end and also brought the show to an end. So let me give you the final situation. John Sergeant who hasn't played the game very many times before and you didn't get very many points, I'm afraid John.

JS: I feel asleep during the long minutes.

NP: But we enjoyed having you and we enjoyed your contribution. And Liza the same with you, my darling.

LT: I understand. It's the medication I'm on!

NP: Sue Perkins did incredibly well. So at the end of this round we say Paul, you are in the lead, so we say Paul, you are the winner this week! Thank you, thank you. It only remains for me to say a final thank you to these fine players of the game, Paul Merton, Liza Tarbuck, John Sergeant and Sue Perkins. I thank Trudi Stevens who has kept the score, and blown her whistle so delicately. We thank our producer Tilusha Ghelani. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And we are indebted to this lovely vociferous audience here at the Radio Theatre in London. From our audience, from me Nicholas Parsons, and from this lovely team, good-bye, thank you. And tune in the next time we play Just A Minute!