starring PAUL MERTON, SUE PERKINS, STEPHEN FRY and FI GLOVER, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 30 May 2011)

NOTE: Fi Glover's first appearance.

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Thank you, thank you, hello, hello, my name is Nicholas Parsons. And as the Minute Waltz fades away once more it is my huge pleasure to welcome our many listeners not only in this country but around the world. But to welcome to the programme four exciting, intelligent, intellectual players of this game. And they are, seated on my right, Paul Merton and Sue Perkins. And seated on my left, Fi Glover and Stephen Fry. Please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Sarah Sharpe, who is going to help me with the score, she is going to blow the whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And once again I am going to ask these four players individually to speak on a subject that I will give them, and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And let's begin the show with Paul Merton. Paul, oh what a lovely subject! Marbles, tell us something about marbles in this game starting now.

PAUL MERTON: Marbles, the very word takes me back to the playground. I was eight years old, holding these spherical glass objects in my mind with little bit of plastic colouring inside them, I seem to remember. Sometimes green, occasionally yellow, perhaps a combination of the two. I don't remember blue...


NP: Stephen challenged.

STEPHEN FRY: I think there were two remembers there.

PM: Yes there were.

NP: Yes he did, he remembered too much, yes right.


SF: It's almost as if I am playing the game according to the rules.

NP: You were and you had a correct challenge, so you get a point for a correct challenge. You take over the subject Stephen and there are 43 seconds available starting now.

SF: It's an anagram of amblers which is completely irrelevant.


NP: Sue challenged.

SUE PERKINS: Deviation. By his own admission it is completely irrelevant

NP: In one sense, it is completely irrelevant. But in another sense, when you are trying to keep going in Just A Minute, it's not entirely irrelevant is it. If you want to take the word and juggle with it which Stephen did. I think on this occasion Stephen, I will give you the benefit of the doubt, say it was an in...


NP: Was that a cheer or a boo? And say you have another point and I can redress the balance later if I can, Sue for you. There are 39 seconds still available, marbles starting now.

SF: Michelangelo Buanarroti, one of the great sculptors of course of the Renaissance era, made his great sculptures out of often Carrera marble, very hard to quarry granite. And the David which is currently on view of course in many different forms, but the original, ah outside, oh dear...


SF: Oh dear! Oh dear, oh dear!

PM: It was very very good, wasn't it, but there was a er.

NP: There was a definite er there yes.

SF: No question.

NP: So Paul, a correct challenge, you've got marbles back with you, 20 seconds available starting now.

PM: Remembering my past, it seems unusual that I was once a participant in a game of marbles...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of game.

PM: Oh yes oh yes.

NP: Yes you talked about your game of marbles when you were at school earlier on, right. Sue you've got in with 13 seconds to go...


NP: Oh we are going to have reaction to every challenge. They're going to be exalted by the end, aren't they. Thirteen seconds Sue on marbles starting now.

SP: After removing the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon at Athens, they discovered they were notoriously difficult to roll and therefore useless in the game for which they were deemed to be fit for purpose. They should have stuck with the smaller glass ones...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking as the whistle goes gains an extra point. It was Sue Perkins and so she has got two points, so has Stephen. Paul's got one and Fi Glover is yet to score, she is yet to speak, actually this is the first time Fi Glover has played the game. So...

FI GLOVER: No pressure! No pressure at all!

NP: But you're surrounded by friends Fi and the subject is being treated like a princess. Interesting subject, 60 seconds starting now.

FG: I would very much like to be treated like a princess on a daily basis in going about my business in my household. I like to imagine that I might wake up on my 800 thread, high definition linen sheets. And somehow six beautiful, charming oompaloopmas would bring to me a glass of warmed chocolate. I would then step out of my delightful bed and put on my alpaca slippers and glide my way off... for goodness' sake, somebody!


FG: I can't get any further in my day!

NP: Darling for a first time player of the game, that's a wonderful start!

SP: I want a high definition bed!

FG: So do I!

NP: Sue what was your challenge?

SP: Hesitation.

NP: Yes we had a hesitation for that. So you went for 30 seconds for that Fi, well done. Sue you got in with 30 seconds to go and it's being treated like a princess starting now.

SP: Modern princesses are treated somewhat differently from the fairy tale. Were I to attain such a glorious role in the Monarchy, my gown would have to be accessorised with gaffer tape for fear I might say something untowards about the royal ones. It is essential that you appear demure but ultimately silent. A mere appendage to the great one who by divine right rules with a rod of iron and ears like a toby jug. Therefore it is essential that...


NP: Stephen challenged.

SF: Wasn't that two essentials? I may be quite wrong.

NP: Yes yes essential you did earlier on. Well done Stephen. You've got in with three seconds to go.


NP: Correct challenge, didn't endear yourself to the audience but doesn't matter. The subject is oh, this is a nice one for you Stephen, being treated like a princess.

SF: Oh!

NP: Tell us something about that in three seconds starting now.

SF: Whenever I come on Just A Minute, I feel like I am being treated like a princess...


NP: So Stephen Fry was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. He has increased his lead by one at the end of the round. And Sue we'd like you to begin the next round, the subject I'm sure has been chosen for you because I know you're very much into music and the piano. And the subject is my favourite composer. Sixty seconds starting now.

SP: I am torn between Benjamin Britten, the great classical giant of the 20th century, and Mike Batt, composer of the Wombles theme tune. Remember you're a womble...


NP: Fi challenged.

FG: Womble.

PM: Yeah absolutely

NP: Yes.

FG: Two wombles.

SP: Did I say? The Wombles and womble.

SF: The Wombles and womble. Tricky one, isn't it?

NP: An easy one if you haven't played the game before, to fall into.

FG: Sorry.

NP: So Sue, an incorrect challenge, 49 seconds on my favourite composer starting now.

SP: Sinfonia Da Requiem by the afore-mentioned Ben is a work of orchestral magnitude. Originally commissioned by the Emperor of Japan, it was deemed unsuitable. It had after all a Christian liturgy and so therefore was useless. However Mike Batt who I have already mentioned and therefore...


NP: Stephen you challenged first.

SF: I think repetition of Mike, and oddly enough, one of Batt as well.

SP: Yes.

NP: Yes so you have my favourite composer now Stephen and you have 31 seconds starting now.

SF: Like Sue, I'm very torn. I suppose on this programme I ought to say Chopin because he composed The Minute Waltz, which tune has played out towards the world now for 45 years, ushering in 30 minutes of joy and glory and wit, heralded of course and chaired by one of the great figures of radio history. So it would be very hard not to pick that Polish genius. However Richard Wagner has a special place in my heart and I know the name itself causes people to sink in horror...


NP: Stephen Fry was then again speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, has increased his lead slightly at the end of the round. And Stephen we'd like you to begin the next round. The subject is, well, it's not a subject but it's four initials, CCTV.

SF: Oh Lordy.

NP: Will you tell us something about CCTV in this game starting now.

SF: Charles Collingwood, transvestite is not the usual, usual meaning of the word... oh dear!


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of usual.

SF: Yes.

NP: Yes it's not usual. No yes. Sue, 54 seconds, you got in very rapidly there, another correct challenge, CCTV starting now.

SP: CCTV is useful for working out what happened between the hours of drinking 17 pints of alcohol and then the point at which you wake up in the police station. How possible to chart those mysterious lapsed moments without the use of video surveillance. It is an excellent aide memoire for the evenings lost in alcoholic reverie...


NP: Fi challenged.

FG: I think you had two losts.

NP: Yes you were lost.

SP: Well it was a heady night.

FG: You were lost twice.

NP: Well listened...

SP: That's why CCTV is so useful.

NP: Yes. So Fi there are 31 seconds still available, tell us something about CCTV starting now.

FG: The worst type of CCTV is the stuff that you get in women's underwear stores where, if you are in the changing rooms, you can occasionally glance your bottom. There is absolutely no way that any person who isn't a man wants to see their bottom...


FG: Bottom.

NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Double bottom.

FG: Double bottoms yes, and any person who isn't a man is a woman. But yeah you can...

NP: Yeah I know.

SF: Very good.

FG: You think so?

SF: That was good.

NP: Yeah that was, right, correct challenge Sue, 13 seconds are still available, CCTV starting now.

SP: I, like Fi, have also unwittingly glanced at my own backside in surveillance camera footage...


NP: Stephen challenged.

SF: She used the word video surveillance in her earlier speech. So surveillance.

NP: Oh yes, video surveillance.

SP: That was almost spectral that one.

NP: It does pay to have a good memory in this game, well done Stephen. You've got seven seconds still, CCTV starting now.

SF: Closed circuit television is for many the bane of the modern world. Is it possible for moving-ment anywhere...


SF: I got all excited!

NP: Yeah Paul you challenged.

PM: Slight deviation there.

NP: Yes.

PM: Stumbled on movement, sadly.

NP: Deviation from language as we understand it. And certainly as we speak. Oh Paul you got in with half a second to go.

PM: I shall try and use my time wisely!

NP: Well you got a round of applause for it anyway.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Half a second Paul, CCTV starting now.

PM: CC...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, he's gained an extra point for doing so. So he's moved forward a little, he's still in third place behind Sue Perkins and Stephen Fry in that order. And Fi brings up the rear. And Paul we are back with you to begin, oh a nice erudite subject, Aristotle. Tell us something about Aristotle.... oh it's nice to have a challenge again...

PM: Yeah absolutely.

NP: A bit of an intellectual challenge. Aristotle, 60 seconds starting now.

PM: There was a Monty Python song about various philosophers and Aristotle featured quite heavily in it. Unfortunately I can't remember any of the lyrics. If I could, that might help me...


NP: Stephen Fry.

SF: I can help him out there. Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle.

PM: Oh yes.

SF: I seem to remember the line. Yeah, Rene Descartes was a drunken old fart, yeah, Hidegger... and so on, just helping him out. But it's not a challenge.

NP: No! But Stephen you interrupted him so he gets a point.

SF: Well that's fair enough.

NP: That's fair enough so you keep the subject Paul and you have got 54 seconds on Aristotle starting now.

PM: Aristotle to his mother was just a nice boy, but to everybody else he was a very clever man... (starts to laugh)


PM: Oh how lame was that!

NP: Sue Perkins.

SP: Oh it was a sort of... halting...

NP: Yeah.

SP: Hesitation, halt.

NP: Hesitation, 48 seconds Sue on Aristotle starting now.

SP: I believe Aristotle came up with the unity of time and place in which plays have to be located geographically and temporally. However my memory is somewhat lacking so it may have been any one of the major philossers operating...


SP: Philosophers.

NP: Fi challenged.

SP: It's a philosopher who is also a police officer.

NP: Fi.

FG: Well he stopped being a philosopher, didn't he, temporarily...

NP: Well she deviated from English as we understand it again.

FG: Yes.

SP: Thank God I don't have to speak about him any more!

NP: So you've all had a go on the subject and we've still got 35 seconds left. Fi, Aristotle, 35 seconds starting now.

FG: Aristotle was a very wise philosopher because one of the main tenets of the things he believed in were that women had to be happy in order for society to work as a better place. Now in holding this view, he was slightly out of step with other philosophers, namely Plato, who didn't believe that women's...


FG: Too many women! Too many women!

NP: Women.

SP: Certainly for ancient Greece! I mean...

FG: Yeah.

NP: So Stephen you've got in with a correct challenge, with 10 seconds on Aristotle starting now.

SF: Philip of Macedonia employed Aristotle to teach his son Alexander. It may be one of the reasons that great Emperor was such a success. Logic, ethics, poetics, economics...


NP: So Stephen, got the extra point again, speaking as the whistle went. He's increased his lead slightly over Sue Perkins, Paul Merton and Fi Glover in that order. Fi we'd like you to begin the next round. The best sort of babysitter. Do you want to tell us something about that in this subject, I think you have some experience, don't you.

FG: Yes.

NP: Starting now.

FG: It would imply, from what Nicholas has just said, that I am actually a babysitter, in that I have experience in the world of being a babysitter. But I don't...


NP: Who challenged? Sue?

SP: I think I challenged incorrectly because I think babysitter is actually in the...

NP: It's on the card.

SP: On the card so forgive me, it's on the card.

NP: You can repeat the words on the card or this whole phrase, it doesn't really matter. So Fi you have another point.

FG: Yes good.

NP: You keep the subject, you have 52 seconds, the best sort of babysitter starting now.

FG: Many people will believe that the best sort of babysitter is one who arrives in the evening, allowing you to go and indulge in a grown-up world again. One that doesn't consist of wiping moisture, strange nasty yucky pieces of slime covering every single surface of your household. But in fact I rather like the best sort of babysitter...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Does that include the roof? Every single surface in your household?

FG: They get everywhere Paul. They get everywhere.

PM: They get everywhere.

FG: They do.

NP: They do get everywhere right. Well Paul, we enjoyed your interruption.

PM: Did you?

NP: We shall give you a bonus point for that one.

PM: Oh thank you.

NP: Right, the audience enjoyed it, but incorrect challenge Fi so you've still got 31 seconds and you've still got the subject, the best sort of babysitter starting now.

FG: The best sort of babysitter is the one that you can just call up as an emergency. So you might have 9-9-9 on your speed dial...


NP: Oh! Oh this is where experience...

FG: Oh, game away.

NP: You can't help it, my love, when you haven't played it very often. Paul...

PM: Over-emphatic German!

NP: Twenty-five seconds Paul, the best sort of babysitter starting now.

PM: well one that gives you your baby back alive at the end of the evening, I think, would be a pretty good recommendation for a start, wouldn't it. Once your child is asleep, then your babysitter can do whatever they like within the bounds of reason. Watch Midsomer Murders or tune in to some marvellous drama currently playing on Channel Four and have the time of their lives while your offspring is gently slipping a piece of beer...


NP: Fi challenged.

FG: Slipping a piece of beer or sipping a piece of beer.

PM: Sipping, sipping a piece of beer.

NP: There was a hesitation.

FG: He went a bit (gibberish).

PM: Yeah.

SP: Does beer come in pieces now?

PM: Yeah.

SF: Does it really?

NP: But he did hesitate, didn't he Fi?

FG: I think so.

NP: I'm glad you're...

SP: Not in charge.

NP: So you've got another correct challenge and three seconds on the best sort of babysitter starting now.

FG: I'd like to book one right away because I shall be celebrating if I manage to...


NP: So Fi Glover was then speaking as the whistle went, and with the other points in the round, she has caught up with Sue Perkins who is in second place behind Stephen and he is one ahead, they're all one ahead of Paul, no they're all more than, I don't know... Only one or two points separate all of them.

SP: It's close.

NP: Sue we are with you to begin, weeding is the subject. I think you're a gardener and I understand how you love your garden. Tell us something about weeding in this game starting now.

SP: Weeding has got immeasurably easier since I invested in an industrial flame thrower. Oh the days of hacking away at bits of shrubbery with a spade. Now I can switch on the butane gas monster and irradiate the entire nanosecond. Think of me as a horticultural Ripley from Alien, casting aside all notions of conventional gardening. Instead turning my officious intentions to absolutely destroying everything that stands in my way. weeds have no bounds to my excessive violent force. I can't abide flowers anyway. They tend to get caught in the back draft which is the new technical term I employ for the clearance that I use. I love what you've done, say neighbours as they drive by amidst the smoke...


NP: Well that hasn't happened for quite a while in this show. And Sue you started with the subject and you kept going without hesitation, repetition or deviation, and without being challenged either, for 60 seconds. You get a point for speaking as the whistle went and a bonus point for not being interrupted. And you're now equal with Stephen Fry in the lead and you are two points ahead of Fi Glover and Paul Merton. And Stephen we are back with you to begin and the subject, rather a strange one, how to clean a chandelier. Strange subject, tell us something about it, have you personal experience. We'll find out anyway, 60 seconds starting now.

SF: Well I think the most important thing is first to disengage the chandelier from any electrical currents so make sure that's done. Then cover the bulbs in some osrt of sacking. I would use isopropyl alcohol in order to clean the individual crystals that depend from your chandelier. Most important. And let's remember here, just for one moment, John Sullivan who made a marvellous scene in Only Fools And Horses where chandeliers fell to the ground because they chose the wrong one to loosen. Don't do that, that's my advice. Fail to do that and then really things can't go too far wrong. It's important I think to clean a chandelier once every 4.72 years because the dulling of the individual glass facets is very quickly onset and must be overcome. As I said, some solvent, freeon might be a good choice, otherwise a volatile fluid like perhaps, and I'm not really being prescriptive here, it's merely a suggestion, something along the lines of, I don't know...


NP: Stephen you went for 59 and a half seconds.

SF: What beast dared challenge me?

NP: I know.

SF: Only Paul Merton would dare.

NP: Well not only dare, he was listening, he has the sharpest ears. So you've got in Paul with half a second. I'll let, I'll tell you what we'll do. As he went for 59 and a half seconds, give him a bonus point.

SF: Oh really.

NP: And Paul, your challenge?

PM: Ah hesitation.

NP: Yes, right, yes, half a second, how to clean a chandelier starting now.

PM: Soapy water.


NP: So Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. Gosh it's neck and neck here, Paul, Fi, Sue, Stephen, in that sequence, just one point separating them all four. Ah I don't think you're really interested in the points which is a bit of a bore isn't it. So... Well I'm not either but I know there are some listeners who are, because they write in about them. How can you sit at home and just tote up the points rather than listen to the humour and the fun and the repartee and the flavour and the whole essence of the friesance of the show. I don't know what I am talking about but it's jolly good stuff, isn't it. Paul, your turn to begin, the perfect best man's speech. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PM: The perfect best man's speech, I can't help but feel that members of the public are sometimes put into an invidious position when they are not used to speaking in front of their contemporaries. To actually put jokes into the best man's speech which I think is a terrible problem altogether because nobody is really expecting you to have the wit of Jack Benny or Dave Allen. All they are expecting you to say is "I have met the bride and she is lovely" or "I know the groom, he's my brother" or "will you please notice that Uncle Ernie over there who is currently trying to stuff his fag ends into the wedding cake is actually a marvellous eccentric that we have invited here by mistake". Once you think, can't place... oh!


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Oh hesitation.

PM: Yes absolutely.

NP: Just about, yes and he hit the microphone...

PM: Yes.

NP: ... in his frustration. I only mention that because the listeners might want to know what the bang was. Twenty seconds, Sue you've got 20 seconds to go and the subject is the perfect best man's speech starting now.

SP: The perfect best man's speech is guaranteed to destroy the wedding, only hours after the priest has pronounced them man and wife. So coruscating in its wit, so revelatory in its revelations, the man and woman will suddenly be cast asunder. What? You're knocking her off next door? I can't believe it, let's make a night of it...


NP: So Sue Perkins was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point and we are moving into the final round, I've been told.


NP: Oh you are lovely! I'll give you the sequence, there is very few points between all of them. Fi Glover is just in fourth place, one point ahead of that is Paul Merton. Then one point ahead of that is Stephen Fry and one point, out in the lead at the moment is Sue Perkins. And Fi we are back with you to begin, will you take this subject, the most beautiful word in the world. Sixty seconds starting now.

FG: There's always a moment, isn't there, when you are sitting in the pub and after everyone's discussed their various holidays and people have decided who they like and who they have chosen not to love, that somebody decides it would be a good idea to talk about the best and most beautiful word in the world. And people always say gusset. Then there will be someone who says moist. And you suddenly look around these people who formerly you thought were friends and think what have you been thinking about...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: People.

FG: Oh no, too much people.

SF: Three times.

SP: Yeah.

FG: Too many people.

SF: Yeah.

NP: Yes, too many people, my darling. It doesn't matter, we enjoyed it, particularly the gusset. Sue, 36 seconds available still, on the most beautiful word in the world starting now.

SP: My favourite word in the entire universe is nugatory which literally means trifling and yet it is such a substantial word in itself which words against the very meaning of it. When you say a trifle, you mean a piffle...


SP: I repeated twice.

NP: Stephen you challenged.

SF: Trifle I think was, trifle.

NP: Yes there was a trifle before, right.

SP: Yeah.

NP: So Stephen you've got 26 seconds still and the subject is the most beautiful word in the world starting now.

SF: There's a word in a Ben Johnson poem, have you marked but the fall of the snow before the soil hath smutched it. And I adore that word smutch. You don't need to know what it means, it's so obvious. It's a kind of compendium of smudge...


SF: No I didn't say smudge twice, I said smutched and smutch. It was very nice of you to suggest that Fi challenge but the line in the poem is have you marked but the fall of the snow before the soil hath smutched it.

FG: But wasn't...

SF: And then I said I love the word smutch.

FG: But didn't you...

SF: So it's not a repetition.

FG: Didn't you smutch again just then.

SF: No.

NP: You did, you said it three times and one...

SF: No.

FG: A tiny tiny smutch.

NP: So you're either...

SF: No no I said it's a compendium of smudge. I said that's what it means. You know that it means smudge, I didn't say... that's the point, you instinctively know that it means smudge.

NP: You'll fight for every little point won't you?

SF: I really, I fight only for justice!

NP: well as you're all absolutely equal at the moment and Fi's not played the game before, can I give her the benefit of the doubt.

SF: By all means.

NP: And you have 10 seconds Fi on the most beautiful word in the world starting now.

FG: There are quite a few people listening who...


NP: Stephen challenged.

FG: Oh!

SF: That's the fourth people now I'm afraid.

NP: So Stephen you lose it and you get it back, a point to you, eight seconds, the most beautiful word in the world starting now.

SF: I like words which don't rhyme with others. Silver, orange, ablithe, curfew...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Orange, door hinge.

SP: I know a ruder one.

PM: You know a ruder rhyme for orange?

SP: Yes.

FG: What is it?

SP: I can't say it because it won't be broadcast. I'll say it later.

NP: Orange, hinge, oh there is... very close but not quite there Paul, I think.

PM: Not quite there.

NP: No no no, right, so Stephen you've got two seconds on the most beautiful word in the world starting now.

SF: I'm quite fond of emolument.


NP: So it's time to give you the final score. Paul Merton and Fi Glover both finished in third place equal. And three points ahead of them was Sue Perkins. And two points ahead of Sue was Stephen Fry, so we say Stephen, you are our winner this week! It only remains for me to say thank you to these four fine exciting players of the game, Paul Merton, Sue Perkins, Fi Glover and Stephen Fry. I thank Sarah Sharpe who has helped me with the score, blown her whistle so delicately when the 60 seconds elapsed. We are grateful to our producer Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And we are grateful to this lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre. So from me Nicholas Parsons, and these wonderful players of the game please tune in again the next time we play Just A Minute!