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 around the world. But also to welcome to the programme four humorous, talented, witty, clever exponents of this game who are going to display their talent with words and language, as they try and talk on teh subject that I give them, and they try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And they are, seated on my left, Gyles Brandreth and Tony Hawks. And seated on my right, Paul Merton and Julian Clary. Please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Sarah Sharpe, who has a stopwatch. She is going to help me with the score, and she will blow the whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And we are going to begin the show this week with Tony Hawks. Tony, the first signs of summer. Talk on the subject Tony, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

TONY HAWKS: One of the first signs of summer, I always notice, is please keep off the grass. And it seems very mean-spirited indeed. Surely this lovely green substance is there for us to enjoy, to frolic upon. There were first signs of summer today, nobody could doubt it. On the streets of London, people were baring their disgusting chests for us all to watch. And some people are burnt to a frazzle...


NP: Julian challenged.

JULIAN CLARY: Repetition of people?

NP: Yes there was too many people there, yes, oooh. And you have a correct challenge, therefore a point for that, and there are 22 seconds available, the first signs of summer starting now.

JC: The first sign of summer is when I go down to the woods, listening for the nightingale. I unbutton the top three holes in my shirt, cock an ear and there it is! Gently...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PAUL MERTON: Sadly a slight hesitation.

NP: Yes slightly, yes yes. You were really rimming him there, you were reacting to him.


NP: I mean our listeners couldn't see it but it was correct, he did hesitate. So Paul you have 10 seconds, the first signs of summer Paul starting now.

PM: The first signs of summer are when you stretch out your hands underneath the table and see what you find underneath...


PM: Oh my goodness me! It's an incontinent duck!

GYLES BRANDRETH: This can't have anything possibly to do with summer!

PM: The first sign...

GB: If he had set the scene in a tent on a camping expedition, maybe. What he is describing is obviously a winter activity. Tables involved, under it, I'm sorry! Deviation in every sense!

NP: I don't know...

GB: Forgive me...

PM: Have you never been on the heath? The first sign of summer.

GB: This was not the first sign of summer.

NP: I don't know, I've seen people do all kinds of things when the first sign of summer comes along, they get...

TH: It's frisky...

NP: ... they get heated, they get very frisky, you know..

TH: Summer, summer has made him very very frisky.

NP: I thought you were going to have him for repetition but it's too late now.

GB: Deviation is what I am challenging him on.

NP: I know, and it's wrong. So Paul, another point to you, four seconds...

GB: Funny summer you're having! That's all I'm saying if you see! Funny summer you're having!

NP: No no, I'm always fair, if I can give you the benefit of the doubt later on, you'll find I will. Four seconds Paul starting now.

PM: The first signs of summer, take off your trousers...


NP: So in this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Paul Merton and he is naturally in the lead at the end of the round. Gyles we'd like you to start the next round. Would you tell us something about the perfect marriage in this game starting now.

GB: My wife is indeed perfection. She has the beauty that would ensure her place in Mister Berlusconi's administration. The intelligence that would place her on the front bench of the Liberal Democrat Party. And the technical skills that would rival those of Isambard Kingdom Brunell. And yet our marriage is not perfect, because I am part of it! I drag the whole thing down. From perfection we turn to something torrid...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Well I want, I want him to talk about the perfect marriage, not the imperfect marriage.

GB: Oh you can't know what is perfect until you have tasted imperfection.

TH: I haven't got long enough! It's the same point as before!

NP: No Gyles, I think in this game you have to make your points pretty rapidly, otherwise you've lost it. And so Tony you have a correct challenge and you have 34 seconds...


NP: No! He was talking about the imperfect marriage, and in this game we are talking about the perfect marriage. So Tony has the benefit of the doubt.

GB: It doesn't matter to me because I go back to the love of a good woman!

NP: Tony, 34 seconds, the perfect marriage starting now.

TH: Several weeks ago, we enjoyed watching the perfect marriage of Prince Harry or whatever his name is...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well, deviation from the historical record. We haven't seen Prince Harry, a few weeks ago, get married.

NP: No, we haven't, no.

JC: And we didn't enjoy it!

TH: So when is this show going out? When's this show going out?

PM: Well it's Prince William who is getting married, not Prince Harry. So I don't know, what you want? A five year moratorium on this or something?

TH: That shows how much interest I showed in it! I thought it was Prince Harry who was getting married!

PM: Well I might be wrong, but there seems to be a lot of tea-towels out there saying something different.

TH: Have I blown my chance of a knighthood now?

NP: I don't think you had much chance in the first place actually. Paul?

PM: Yes?

NP: Correct challenge, 29 seconds, the perfect marriage starting now.

PM: When we think back to that gorgeous day when Prince William surprised everybody by getting married to Christopher Biggins, who at the very last moment came running up the aisle, saying "take me, give us a chance, I'm as good as any woman". And it proved to be that he was. The two of them became beekeepers in rural Sussex and produced royal jam every year and honey, which was considered the finest the delicatessens could buy. I still remember holding the label in my hand in the year 2017...


NP: Well it was lovely stuff Paul, but nothing to do with the perfect marriage...

PM: No!

NP: ... as far as I was concerned.

PM: But in a fantasy world, maybe it was, I don't know. But you were speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. You have increased your lead, you are two ahead of Tony Hawks and Julian Clary and then Gyles Brandreth. Oh Paul we'd like you to begin the next round, the reasons not to go on holiday. Sixty seconds starting now.

PM: The reasons not to go on holiday, I suppose are quite a few. If you have a loving family and a beautiful house and you enjoy spending time in each other's company, then you could perhaps say to yourself, we won't go abroad this year. We will stay around the... home...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Hesitation.

NP: I call that hesitation, yes.

PM: Yeah, more of an extended word.

NP: Yeah.

PM: That went on a long time.

NP: Forty-five seconds Gyles, the reasons not to go on holiday starting now.

GB: Who wants to do anything twice? I've already been on holiday. If you like it, well...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Well it's, I call that hesitation, he sort of swallowed...

NP: I don't think so.

JC: No?

NP: No no I don't think so, no. Gyles you still have the subject and you have 37 seconds, reasons not to go on holiday starting now.

GB: The holiday That I did take was in North Wales. I arrived in August in the hailstones...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well it's a deviation. He's talking about going on holiday and the subject is reasons not to go on holiday.

GB: Yes I'm about to explain. I'm about to explain...

TH: I haven't got long enough!

GB: I'm about to explain...

PM: He's in Wales, you see, he's in Wales on holiday! Awfully sorry!

GB: I actually had mentioned the hailstones and that I think in August in North Wales. Hailstones is a reason not to go on holiday.

NP: Yes.

GB: My feeling is...

NP: I said I would give you the benefit of the doubt if the occasion arose, and it has arisen.

GB: Thank you.

PM: Oh has it?

NP: So you have it because you didn't give him enough chance to re, carry on...

PM: Yeah.

NP: ... and say why we were in North Wales. And 33 seconds, still with you Gyles, starting now.

GB: The real horror is the other people that go on holiday with you. There you are in Llandudno, getting the pick of the shelters and all these people wearing "kiss me quick" hats...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Two peoples, we had people and people, repetition.

NP: People yes, well listened Paul.

PM: In the middle of your class hatred, you said it twice.

NP: Twenty-three seconds are still available Paul, reasons not to go on holiday starting now.

PM: I would not like to go on holiday unless I were with people... I were with?


PM: I were with?

NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Hesitation.

PM: No! That was repetition. But not hesitation. I kept going, that was the trouble.

NP: Tony, 14 seconds, reasons not to go on holiday starting now.

TH: I suppose one of the main reasons people don't go on holiday is because they don't have enough money...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Two don'ts, quite quickly, one after the other.

NP: Yes, yes, don't.


PM: Somebody woken up and they're disappointed this isn't Brain Of Britain?

NP: Correct challenge Paul, nine seconds, reasons not to go on holiday starting now.

PM: Other people have been...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: He said people earlier.

PM: I haven't said people.

JC: I thought you had.

PM: No, everybody else has.

JC: I thought you did say people.

PM: Yes it's funny that, isn't it.

NP: Seven seconds Paul, reasons not to go on holiday starting now.

PM: One year I decided that the best thing for me to do was to go to Butlin's Holiday Camp and avoid every single...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And has moved forward into a strong lead. And Tony Hawks we'd like you to begin the next round, the subject is dividing household chores. Sixty seconds starting now.

TH: My girlfriend isn't in the audience this evening so I can say I am am master of dividing household chores. Although she would say cleaning is not my forte. I think that something has been cleaned sufficiently, and she comes down and looks at it and says "it's a disgrace! What were you thinking of, Hawks?" She calls me that, very affectionate, but that's enough detail on that. Now dividing chores should be done by a panel of men who sit down and say "that's good enough for me. Well done, go through into the other room and relax in the chair. Watch football, whatever you like, really". I'm not confident of carrying on much longer but let's...


NP: Gyles you challenged.

GB: Yes it's hesitation on behalf of the Relate organisation.

NP: Well it was hesitation, right, 22 seconds Gyles, dividing household chores starting now.

GB: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, my wife does the ground floor and the kitchen. What a scrubber! Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, she does upstairs. This is how we divide the chores. M, W, F and double T, S is the code for this. The arrangement is totally satisfactory, introduced to me by my good friend...


NP: So Gyles Brandreth speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's moved forward, he's just in second place behind Paul Merton and then the other two follow. And Julian we'd like you to begin the next round, oh, a good laugh. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

JC: There's nothing quite as therapeutic as a good laugh. It waves around the diaphragm and puts a smile on your face, and you feel cheery for the rest of the week. A good laugh is essential, I think, for everyone's well-being. Listening to Just A Minute can induce this very thing of which we talk. Or you might turn on the television and see Sian Phillips on Breakfast Time. Oh what an elegant woman and she makes me laugh. She sits there with her legs crossed and I am howling. So is my friend...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Do you mean Sian Phillips, the actress, who was married to Peter O'Toole. Or do you mean Sian Lloyd, the weather girl?

JC: I mean Sian Phillips. I've got Satellite, it's from a different channel that you're probably not familiar with.

PM: She's a, she's a well respected classical actress.

JC: She used to be.

PM: Yes. Does she now do day-time TV, does she? As a presenter? Deviation, he's got the wrong Sian. You know the difference, don't you.

NP: Yes I do know the difference, it's just...

PM: Yeah.

NP: Paul a correct challenge, a good laugh is with you, 25 seconds starting now.

PM: A Max Miller joke. I came home the other night, I said to the wife "I hear the milkman has made love to every woman in this street, bar one." She said "I bet it's that stuck-up cow at number 54!" This was a story that was first heard...


NP: Julian challenged. Julian's challenged you.

PM: What's his challenge?

JC: Well it's other people's material you're doing.

PM: Yeah, well, it had a good laugh in it, unlike some of the other contributions to the subject.

NP: Julian it's correct, I mean he got a good laugh. A piece of material from another comedian, he got a good laugh.

PM: I told you where it was from.

NP: Yes right.

PM: I didn't try to pass it off as my own.

JC: What's that supposed to mean? Outside!

PM: For a minute, I thought you were angry with me.

NP: The affection and the aggro that goes hand in hand in this show is absolutely delightful. Right, 14 seconds with you Paul on a good laugh starting now.

PM: Laurel and Hardy, Stan...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Oh anything but that!

NP: Oh why Julian?

JC: Oh I tire of it!

NP: Julian...

JC: Buster Keaton maybe, ooo-roo-roo. Oh I've got a stepladder! Oh have you?

NP: Are you mocking your friend because he's a... are you mocking your friend because he's an authority on these comedians...

JC: Authority? Is that the word we are using?

NP: Julian, Julian...

PM: God forbid I should have a one-track mind when it came to jokes Julian! I really wouldn't know where I would be!

NP: Julian you got a good laugh with what you said so we give you a bonus point for that.

JC: Oh thank you.

NP: But he wasn't deviating in any way so Paul you carry on with a good laugh, 12 seconds starting now.

PM: Oscar Wilde once said to George Bernard Shaw, the very essence of a good laugh is when you have one man bending over to tie up his shoes while another kisses him on both cheeks. And you know...


NP: Right so Paul Merton was speaking whistle, as the whistle went and again he's increased his lead at the end of the round. And Paul it's back with you to begin. The subject now is shift work. Can you tell us something about shift work in this game starting now.

PM: I remember my Dad doing shift work when he was working on London Underground. He would leave the house probably about half past seven in the evening and you would see him again around about quarter past eight following...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Repetition of past.

NP: Quarter past...

PM: Oh yes, oh yes, oh yeah.

NP: Right so Julian you're in there with 49 seconds on shift work starting now.

JC: When I worked for the Metropolitan Police, I had to do shift work. Night duty was my favourite. I would pop my truncheon over my back, shine up my helmet, and off I went with a little tupperware...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: You can't shine up a helmet.

PM: Oh don't get me started on that one!

GB: I'm just speaking on behalf of the core Radio Four audience, you know.

NP: Gyles...

GB: People who still like going to Ambridge and still feel the world, you know, perhaps was better when Gilbert Harding was running it.

NP: Gyles whether you can or not, I'm sure that Gyles managed to achieve that. So Julian you have an incorrect challenge, you keep the subject, another point, 36 seconds, shift work starting now.

JC: Sometimes it can be very very quiet in the...


NP: Tony.

TH: Oh sorry Julian.

NP: Very very yes, right.

TH: Repetition.

NP: Thirty-three seconds Tony, shift work starting now.

JC: I always like to shift work to the bottom of the agenda, enjoying leisure as I do. And it's difficult to believe that this is work for me...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Hesitation, gradual hesitation.

NP: No no no, I think you thought he repeated the word work but it's on the card. And you're...

GB: You are a mind-reader Nicholas! You are, that's why you're here!

NP: Tony, correct challenge, 22 seconds, shift work starting now.

TH: I'm lucky to be on the early evening shift of Just A Minute because there will be a 2AM recording featuring...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Now came the hesitation.

NP: Yes because I don't know about a 2AM recording.

PM: No there's no 2AM, no no no. No 2AM recording, no no no no no. (yawns) Oh is that the time?

TH: The only thing I'd say though is that for hesitation, surely you have to hesitate? Did I hesitate?

GB: Yes and...

NP: He didn't hesitate.

GB: He deviated, didn't he.

NP: Yeah he deviated but you didn't have him for deviation, you had him for...

GB: Oh didn't I?

NP: You didn't...

GB: That's what Paul picked up.

NP: That was too late then, that was too late then, wasn't it.

GB: Oh I don't know about that. Anything you say?

NP: You still have the subject Tony and you have 14 seconds, shift work starting now.

TH: I used to work in a carpet factory. We did shifts lifting the edges of these little tapestries off the floor for people to view. It was extraordinarily tedious and yet we found joy in it because we were...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: There was three wes all in one sentence there.

NP: Yes, two...

TH: Yeah I needed a wee-wee!

NP: He let one go, but you got in with one second to go Paul and shift work is with you starting now.

PM: When I see work, I shift.


NP: Paul Merton once again was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. Has increased his lead, the other three are trailing him but they're very very close in second, third and fourth place. Tony Hawks, it's your turn to begin, we'd like you to take this interesting subject now, my favourite made-up word, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

TH: I've never been terribly keen on the word guess-timate. However blog is a made-up word, I suppose. It's come into our parlance in the last 10 years or so, and it has a little ring to it which is pleasing to the ear, not necessarily relevant to the subject matter and...


PM: Gyles challenged.

GB: By his own acknowledgement, not necessarily relevant to the subject matter which I think suggests deviation from the subject matter. I'm only picking up the lead given to us by T on my left.

NP: You're right, it is relevant, because the subject, it may be a made-up word. But it is relevant to the subject.

PM: All words are made up! All words are made up.

NP: I know. Because some times people didn't have words.

PM: That's right. Do you remember that time before language when... when you just had to point at things?

NP: I know!

PM: And draw on the cave wall. Do you remember that?

NP: That's right.

PM: You were one of the first proponents of fire. You were very keen on fire, weren't you?

NP: Oh dear!

PM: The evolution of man, fire one minute and then next minute very lovely jackets! It all happened in the space of about two years, didn't it.

NP: An incorrect challenge on your part...

TH: Thank you.

NP: ... because it was relevant to blog. So my favourite word Tony, 40 seconds starting now.

TH: As Paul pointed out in that delightful intermission from this wonderful speech, all words are made up. Glove, what a good word that is. Very handy for rhyming with love if you're a song writer and people have done that over the ages, and with great efficiency. Just think of Irving Berlin and Cole Porter to name but two.


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Which Cole Porter song rhymes love with glove?

TH: I don't want to go through the catalogue now.

PM: Okay, Irving Berlin then perhaps?

NP: It doesn't really matter because you can rhyme love with glove.

PM: Yes but did either of those two?

NP: I don't know whether they did or not.

TH: I think they did.

PM: Tony says yes on the basis that nobody else knows.

TH: Well how many songs, does anyone know how many songs that Irving Berlin wrote? They go into the thousands.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Absolutely and I bet he did on one occasion do that, so you have the benefit of the doubt and you have 17 seconds, my favourite made-up word starting now.

TH: Eeky-beaky isn't a word but I've made it it up, and it's now my new favourite. eeky... oh I can't...


NP: If it's your favourite, you shouldn't repeat it so quickly in Just A Minute.

TH: I know!

NP: So Gyles, who challenged, oh Julian challenged.

GB: Repetition.

NP: No, Julian challenged.

JC: Yes well repetition of eeky-beaky or something.

NP: And you have, Julian, 10 seconds starting now.

JC: If you watch Laurel and Hardy films very very closely...


NP: Tony challenged.

GB: Repetition of very.

NP: It was Tony who challenged.

GB: Oh so sorry.

TH: Yes I...

GB: I see it's come unplugged, I'm so sorry!

NP: Seven seconds with you Tony, my favourite made-up word starting now.

TH: Thrust, imagine that if you stood on the...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well deviation, he didn't say eeky-beaky. He established that was, that was his favourite word.

NP: Yes.

PM: So deviation for not saying eeky-beaky.

TH: I can't say eeky-beaky again! I've got myself in a hideous trap!

PM: You've created this paradox for yourself. You can't repeat your favourite word!

TH: I'm going to, after the show, though! Over and over again!

NP: But he can talk about my favourite made-up word and go round the...

PM: Yes he can.

NP: ... and not actually use the word again. So benefit of the doubt to you Tony, my favourite made-up word, three seconds starting now.

TH: We can all stand in silence listening to the...


NP: So Tony Hawks was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And with others in the round has now moved forward rapidly. He's only one point behind Paul Merton who is still in the lead and the other two are equal in third place, a few points behind. I've just heard we have no more time, we have got to move into the final round.


NP: Oh you are lovely! I'll give you the situation as we do. Julian is trailing just a little, he's behind Gyles who's got quite a few points. But he's three or four behind Tony Hawks who is one behind Paul Merton as we go into the final round. And Gyles it's your turn to begin and the subject is worms. Tell us something about worms in this game starting now.

GB: Worms are the most beautiful of God's creatures because they give us silk. And thanks to worms we have diaphanous items of clothing with which we can dress our beautiful women who one day will be turned into worms...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well you're placing women far beneath worms. as you described worms as the most beautiful creation of God. And then you sort of describe the silk being put on to beautiful women. But I think it's deviation, I don't think worms are the most beautiful... he's looking at me like I'm wrong! Am I?

NP: Yeah because I think, I got the impression that Gyles was saying they do this most amazing job.

PM: Yes.

NP: And they create these beautiful things which women wear.

PM: Yes.

NP: Not that they were the beautiful creatures.

PM: No. I got that bit wrong.

NP: Yeah. So Gyles another point to you...

TH: See how he goes quietly, Gyles.

NP: Thirty-nine seconds, worms starting now.


TH: Hesitation.

NP: Gyles you're sitting there with your mouth open as if you were about to start.

GB: The lack of courtesy that somebody should be gabbling away while you were trying to introduce the item is extraordinary.

NP: There is a lot of lack of courtesy on this show. Look at the way they respect the chairman.

TH: You wait till the 2AM recording!

NP: No we don't have a lot of respect on this show, but we do have a lot of fun. Paul, 38 seconds, on worms starting now.

PM: My grandfather was big on soil and he used to say to me "the richness of the soil depends on the worms..."


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: I want the benefit of the bloody doubt!

NP: Why?

TH: Because I got the correct challenge before. And you gave it to Paul! I haven't brought my lawyer along with me...

NP: Paul... I have little lights in front of me which tells me which light comes on first. And it was Paul's light.

PM: Yes.

TH: Oh.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Yes

TH: All right well I am still begging for the benefit of the doubt.

NP: Well you may get it, there isn't much time left, is there. But no, Paul, your light came on first so you have the correct challenge and 33 seconds, worms starting now.

PM: It was told to me at school that if you cut the worm in half, both individual halves will come back together again. I've never been so spirited and meanful and mindful to go and...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Was there a sort of hesitation in there?

NP: No.

TH: I thought that was going to be a be a benefit of the doubt one really but there we go.

NP: No he was getting very close to it but it wasn't there, right, 22 seconds Paul, still with you, worms starting now.

PM: They are seen as a sign of the early bird catches the worm. As an indication that if you get up early enough, beat your competitors ...


NP: Julian.

JC: Repetition of early.

NP: There were too many earlys there, early bird catching the early worm.

PM: Oh right, I've written down the early bird. It's worms, isn't it yeah.

NP: Yes so Julian, 15 seconds, tell us something about worms starting now.

JC: I had worms once, I was ravenous. I had a huge baguette and then I was still peckish. So I went down to the butchers and I said "look you've got to feed me". And he said "come in the back room". And I had a sausage. Still I was...


NP: Gyles yes?

GB: He gagged at the prospect of that sausage. Hesitated.

NP: I know, he was going for a big pay-off. Unfortunately it didn't happen and you've got in with one second to go.

GB: Good!

NP: On worms starting now.

GB: (shouts unintelligibly)


NP: I said earlier that this was to be the final round, let me give you the final score. Julian who contributes so much, but didn't get as many points as the others. He was a few points behind Gyles Brandreth who was one point behind Tony Hawks. And he was two points behind Paul Merton. So Paul we say you are the winner this week. Well we do hope you've enjoyed this edition of Just A Minute. It only remains for me to say thank you to these four fine players of the game, Paul Merton, Julian Clary, Gyles Brandreth and Tony Hawks. I thank Sarah Sharpe, who has helped me with the score, she's blown the whistle beautifully when the 60 seconds have elapsed. We are grateful to our producer Claire Jones. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. So from the audience, from me Nicholas Parsons and the team, good-bye, thank you and tune in the next time we play Just A Minute!