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. But also to welcome to the show four exciting, talented, dynamic players of this game. And they are, seated on my right Paul Merton and Tony Hawks. And seated on my left, Graham Norton and Sheila Hancock. Please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Sarah Sharpe, who is going to help me keep the score, and blow a whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And we are going to begin with a great broadcaster, Graham Norton. Graham, here's an interesting subject, my personal assistant. I don't know whether you have one or not, but tell us something about it in this game starting now.

GRAHAM NORTON: My personal assistant. Yes I do have one, and no, I don't know why either. You're just supposed to! It's as if somehow I'm very busy and can't cope with all the demands of my life. This isn't really true. However sometimes, oh it's handy. At the moment, while I speak, my personal assistant, and this is true, is on a train to Bexhill to collect my phone because I left it there! Now I could have done that tomorrow, when in fact I will be doing laundry. So is it more sensible to pay someone to wash my clothes so I'll be free to collect the mobile device from the seaside town I mentioned, or pay... oh that's twice with the pay...


GN: ... to someone who could have, stop that ramble now!

NP: No, you've actually been interrupted.

GN: Oh have I?

SHEILA HANCOCK: He said mobile twice.

NP: I know he did.

GN: Oh did I? The subject was...

SH: I can't believe that you actually sent somebody to get your phone from Bexhill.

GN: It's worse to ask her to do some laundry for me tomorrow while I'm driving to Bexhill.

SH: With the money you earn, you could have bought a new mobile phone.

NP: Oh!

GN: What's that about? That's crazy! That seems worse! It seems worse to just abandon a phone. Otherwise she'd just be sat in an office doing nothing.

NP: As well as the fact...

GN: Tomorrow's a busy day for her!

PAUL MERTON: You could buy two phones, one for London, and one for the country.

GN: I could. You know what'd happen, I'd leave both of them. Sheila the subject's with you.

NP: Let's get on with the show. Sheila you got in with nine seconds to go on my personal assistant starting now.

SH: I'm getting to the age where I very much need personal assistance, crossing the road, putting the cat out. I have got a wonderful woman called Claire...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Sheila Hancock, who is the only one to have got any points in that opening round. Tony Hawks we would like you to begin the next round, the subject, a tale of two cities. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

TONY HAWKS: A tale of two cities. I am going to do a tour later this year and one of the cities will be Exeter, the other Aberdeen. It's just a disappointment they're on consecutive nights and not very well planned by the manager of this event as it happens. Dickens of course wrote a book called A Tale Of Two Cities, 45 chapters or something, I remember reading it when I was little. Set in Paris and London, terrific read, well done Chas! Now if I was to stand on a small mound of...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well hesitation slightly there.

NP: Yeah there was a slight hesitation. Paul you have the subject, you have 17 seconds on a tale of two cities with you Paul starting now.

PM: There have been several film adaptations of A Tale Of Two Cities. One thinks fondly of Dirk Bogarde, creating a magnificently heroic role for British cinema. And if we go back further in time, Ronald Coleman indeed essayed this very same character in Hollywood's golden...


NP: Sheila Hancock challenged.

SH: Repeat of character.

PM: Did I say character?

SH: I think you said Dirk Bogarde invented a character.

PM: Well I might have done.

SH: I think...

PM: I think it was role, did I say role first time.

SH: Did you? Maybe.

NP: Role, that's right yes, well done Paul.

SH: Well we'll see in the repeat. I'll check it! However, I am willing to concede because I am a good player.

NP: You're a great player, that's why you keep coming back, my darling.

SH: Because you can't get any other women to stand up to these men! It all stems from when Kenneth used to say "you shouldn't have women on this show!"

NP: That's right, many years ago, yes. And you were one of the few who could stand up to him and shout him down. Paul, half a second to go...

SH: What!

PM: Well hang on, can I just remind people, I was the one challenged, so it's not really my fault there's half a second to go.

NP: Paul, half a second starting now.

PM: Liverpool and...


NP: So Paul, speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. With others in the round he has now taken the lead ahead of all the others. And Sheila we'd like you to begin the next round, the subject is making a difficult decision. What I have to do all the time in this show. But you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

SH: Do you know that I have discovered that trying to make decisions is the thing that makes me most ill. Occasionally I get a headache and I don't know why, and I think it's because I am trying to make up my mind about something, like in this game. I have to make a decision whether to interrupt because then I will get a subject that possibly I know damn all about. So I think what shall I do? Will I do that, press the buzzer, or will I actually sit tight...


SH: And I've repeated will I.

NP: Yes, Tony?

TH: Yes, repetition of will I.

NP: Will I yes, 31 seconds for you Tony, making a difficult decision starting now.

TH: Whenever I have a difficult decision to make, I take myself down to the lakeside, sit there pensively... I can't be bothered...


NP: Graham you challenged.

GN: Hesitation I believe.

NP: It was hesitation. Making a difficult decision Graham, and there are 23 seconds starting now.

GN: When I have to make a difficult decision, I think to myself W-M-N-P-D, what might Nicholas Parsons do? Then I dwell on what action that great man might take, and with that thought in my mind, I sally forth and that isn't the course of action I decide...


NP: So Graham was then speaking as the whistle went. I'd like to give you a bonus point for all that flattery Graham, but I can't favour people. You're in second place, just behind Paul Merton. And Paul it's your turn to begin, the subject is ventriloquism. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PM: I've always had a big soft spot for ventriloquists. I remember with great affection one called Arthur Worsley and his particular gimmick was that the dummy did all the talking, while he himself as a character never spoke. I also loved Neville King and he had an old man dummy that was...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Repetition of loved.

PM: Yes.

NP: Yes.

PM: I did.

NP: You loved Arthur Worsley...

PM: Yeah he was fantastic!

NP: Pity, we were going to have a whole history of all the different vents throughout the whole history of...

PM: It's fantastic! I always loved it!

NP: So Graham's got in now, 45 seconds, ventriloquism starting now.

GN: I recall one very special Christmas when I got a fort, a goldfish and a ventriloquist's dummy. His name was Finnegan. That was written on the box, and I could read, I was quite a smart child. It had ginger hair a small cap with a sort of hound's tooth check and a matching jacket, black trousers since you ask and small plastic boots. It was mass manufactured so it probably wasn't the greatest ventriloquy...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Was there a hesitation there?

NP: There was hesitation in the middle of the word.

GN: Well I couldn't remember what the subject was so I was going to learn whether I could say ventriloquist. But it's ventriloquism.

NP: Ventriloquism yes.

GN: So I could say that.

NP: We'll give it to you Tony, hesitation, 13 seconds, ventriloquism starting now.

TH: A very funny ventriloquist act that my father used to find hilarious was Sandy Powell who used to be inadequate, hopeless at doing it. My...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: There were actually two used to.

NP: That's right.

TH: Oh was there.

SH: Two used tos.

NP: He used to do it and he was used to it.

TH: Oh well spotted.

NP: And you have three seconds Sheila starting now.

SH: Tommy Cooper used to make me roar when he tried to do a ventriloquist act...


NP: So they all got points in the round, Sheila was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra one. And she is equal with Paul in the lead. And Graham it's your turn to begin.

GN: Oh yes.

NP: And now the subject is the speaking clock, 60 seconds starting now.

GN: I am actually very fond of the old speaking clock, or Tim as we used to call him. How droll! When I wasn't working as an actor, sometimes I would be called to auditions. I lived in fear of some day getting a job. So I developed a monologue from a fictitious play where I was the character of the speaking clock and I just said things like at the third beep, the time will be a quarter to two. the casting people and the director would look at me like I was a lunatic, close to the truth! And then I was sure I would not get the role in any production and therefore I wouldn't have to go and do it. I wasn't very keen on being that thing that I mentioned earlier, you can tell because I was not saying it. Now the other factor when it comes to the speak...


GN: Oh!

NP: Wonderful! That hasn't happened for a while. Graham Norton was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, but as he went for the full 60 seconds without being interrupted, he gets another point as well. So you're now in the lead, one point ahead of all the others Graham.

GN: I'm sweating!

TH: Nicholas, can I make a suggestion? Well I'd like to introduce a new thing that if you talk for a minute without being interrupted, you get a cake as well.

NP: Yes if you'd like to bake them, and bring them along, we'll do that.

TH: Well I will give you a cake. I'll send it to you through the post.

GN: That's very nice of you.

SH: I think you deserve more than one extra pill, one extra point...


GN: Don't give all our secrets away!

PM: Don't tell 'em we're on pills!

TH: It's because he had the pill he did the minute in the first place! I want him drug tested afterwards.

SH: I was, I was thinking...

TH: I withdraw the offer of the cake!

SH: You jolly well have to be on pills to do this show!

NP: All right, shall we give him an extra point?

PM: Yeah give him an extra point.

TH: Yeah go on.

SH: Yeah go on.

PM: Exactly yeah.

NP: Graham...

GN: Yeah I'll take it.

NP: It's not charity.

PM: No...

NP: It's just appreciation of talent.

GN: Yeah yeah.

NP: So Tony, your turn to begin and the subject now is sending postcards. Will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

TH: In these days of electronic communication, email, Facebook, etcetera, everyone with their computers in little cafes, when they are at the seaside, not so many people are sending postcards as they used to. Think of the poor postcard sellers on the sea front, distraught as they see passers-by stop, look at their wares, but not make a purchase. we carry on with our comfortable little...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: I've got to stop this bleak diatribe!

PM: So sad!

GN: It's awful!

SH: You're in a dreadful mood!

GN: Broken Britain!

PM: Can we get the pills! Can we get the pills up this end, please! When I say up this end, I mean just the table, I mean.

TH: Technically, technically, I was a bit down. But within the rules of Just A Minute, I think you're allowed to be.

NP: Yes, and your challenge was...

SH: It was me, it was me!

GN: I would say that it was deviation from the cheery norm that Radio Four listeners expect! People listen to this show all over the world! Sometimes in quite depressing places! They don't want this, Tony!

TH: No, you're right, it's a persuasive...

GN: They don't want to hear about unemployed postcard sellers.

TH: I tell you what, I will concede, because the strength of your argument is magnificent. Furthermore, I'll give you a second cake.

NP: Do you want to give him the subject as well?

TH: Mmmmmm.

NP: All right, that's very generous of you.

GN: Too generous, I would say!

NP: Right. Well can you be less miserable on sending postcards, 32 seconds starting now.

GN: Oh I remember the joy and happiness of selecting a postcard on the sea front. You took it very seriously. You would examine each card and think well, yes, that has the harbour, but you can't see the castle. Ooohh this one is at night...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Well this is getting depressing now! There's no joy in this! Can't make a decision! It's agony! I don't think, Radio Four listeners can't take any more of that!

PM: I didn't realise it was such a minefield! It's quite odd, isn't it.

NP: well actually it is all part of the culture of sending postcards, what Graham is describing. So it was an incorrect challenge.

GN: Was it?

NP: Yes indeed.

PM: Feeling miserable...

GN: It was as correct as mine.

NP: No it is. And I send a lot of postcards, I always like to keep in touch. Right, 14 seconds, another point to you Graham, sending postcards starting now.

GN: I am so sick of getting postcards from Nicholas Parsons! Every morning I wake up, there's another one! Some dull hedgerow! Wish you were here! No, I don't, Nicholas! Oh I've said that twice.


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: He said Nicholas twice.

NP: He did yes.

PM: Repetition.

NP: You can't have too much of Nicholas, can you? I don't know. Anyway Paul you've got in, oh, with one second to go. Tell us something about sending postcards in one second starting now.

PM: Wish you were here...


NP: So Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, he is creeping up on our leader who is still Graham Norton, and the other two are in third and fourth place. And Sheila we'd like you to begin the next round, oh, interesting subject, barn dances. Have you ever been to a barn dance? If not, tell us something about them in this game starting now.

SH: Actually I have very happy memories of barn dances which don't have to be held in a barn. Ours was held in the congregational hall in Bexley Heath. It used to be for folk dances such as the Volita or Strip The Willow. Occasionally...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Disgusting!

SH: It's a dance, I promise you. It suddenly came to me...

NP: It is a dance yes.

SH: ... in my subconscious.

PM: I thought you said Strip The Widow.

SH: No, willow, willow!

PM: It seems a bit harsh at the funeral, doesn't it.

SH: I may be quite wrong but I think there is a dance called Strip The Willow, isn't there.

NP: There is, my darling.

PM: Is there a dance called Strip The Willow?

NP: We did it, Strip The Willow, we were...

SH: Did you?

NP: I think we did Strip The Widow as well! Sheila you've got the benefit of the doubt and you've got 40 seconds on barn dances starting now.

SH: On these occasions, my Mum used to be at the piano, and people gave her requests. It was very popular. Some of the dances were in fours or in long lines. You used to do twirly bits, and sitting down and curtseying. I remember the last waltz was the great thing because whoever asked you to have that was going to take you home. Mind you, because my... Mum was there...


SH: ... she wouldn't let me.

NP: Tony challenged.

TH: Ah repetition of Mum or...

SH: No, I said Mother.

TH: Or hesi, or hesitation just before.

SH: Oh.

TH: We'll go for hesitation.

NP: So what are you going for.

TH: Well I buzzed for hesitation.

NP: No you changed, didn't you, you went for Mum first.

TH: Well she said Mum, then Mother, and then I thought...

NP: No she knew...

TH: Oh I've made a ghastly error!

NP: An incorrect challenge, you did say Mother first. And 15 seconds Sheila with you on barn dances starting now.

SH: I believe that nowadays barn dances have turned into something called line dancing, where you have a caller and people do American, such as the volita...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: There was a slight hesitation.

SH: Yes.

NP: There was a slight hesitation. And you started the subject and you've gone for 58 seconds.

SH: Oh you're joking!

NP: Yes! I thought you were going to get on to the...

SH: Never mind, I did very hesitate.

NP: Yeah I thought you were going to get on to the dashing white sergeant which was...

SH: Oh that was one! Yeah.

NP: That's right yes. Strange names they had.

PM: The dashing white sergeant?

NP: Yes.

SH: Yes.

PM: Really?

SH: It was a good one.

TH: So did you have to go home with the person you did the last waltz with?

SH: Yeah.

TH: You had...

SH: At that stage you did, well, you didn't have to. My Mum wouldn't let me. But I mean, you, they, if somebody asked you to do the last waltz, it usually meant that they wanted you to go home with them.

NP: That's right.

TH: Wow!

SH: It was very chaste, darling! They just left you at the back door.

NP: It was all very discreet.

GN: Discreet is different from chaste, Nicholas.

NP: Well it was, it was a discreet kiss under the portals of the house...

PM: A kiss under where?

TH: Under the portals?

PM: That was our last night when he kissed me under the portals.

NP: So Paul you got in with two seconds on barn dances starting now.

PM: Barn dances, farmers, shop...


NP: I think, as Sheila did 58 seconds...

PM: Yes.

NP: ... didn't get that extra point for going for the extra two, she should have an extra point anyway. But Paul gets it for speaking when the whistle went, right. Oh, following what we have been talking about, here's an interesting subject on which we want you to begin, achieving longevity, 60 seconds starting now.

PM: Well to be given this subject by Nicholas Parsons is indeed a compliment. Because if anybody has achieved longevity it is the esteemed chairman of this magnificent show, first broadcast on Radio Four in 1967. Just A Minute remains one of the most popular broadcast in its medium ever shows in ever made...


PM: And I can say radio again. You know what I meant.

NP: Tony.

TH: Hesitation.

NP: I know. What a pity, I was enjoying it so much.

PM: Never missed a recording, have you, Nicholas.

NP: Forty-two seconds Tony on achieving longevity starting now.

TH: There are seven ways of achieving longevity. One, go down to the lake and think carefully before you take a difficult decision. Two, be utterly miserable most of the time. Three, stand next to somebody in a bus queue who is more wealthy than you. Four, talk utter rubbish in the hope that someone will challenge you...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: His wish was granted! It was sort of, it's not really, you can't achieve longevity by standing next to somebody in a bus stop who has got more money than you.

NP: No, absolutely right.

TH: I don't think the other three were that good either!

PM: No, that was the benefit of the doubt. Why did you announce seven ways? You couldn't think of one!

TH: No, yes there is a flaw there.

NP: There wasn't one sensible or positive way in that list you gave us. And Paul you got in with 18 seconds to go, achieving longevity starting now.

PM: There are 15,000 ways of achieving longevity. First you start, one...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: I'm afraid he is 14,993 out! Everybody knows there is seven!

PM: You didn't! Did you? You couldn't think of one!

TH: Well if I didn't know what seven were, how were you going to go, what, 15,000 were.

PM: You can't judge my ignorance by your standards!

NP: So what is your challenge within the rules...

TH: Deviation.

NP: Why?

TH: There aren't 15,000.

NP: No, there aren't, no more than there are seven. No, I give benefit of the doubt on this one...

TH: Yes.

NP: ... and say 14 seconds on...

PM: just to remind you, you are on reason number three out of your seven.

NP: Right Tony, achieving longevity, 14 seconds starting now.

TH: The seventh one, because I'd like to work backwards now is to eat healthy food. Few people would disagree with this sensible advice. Carrots...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: I disagree actually. Whenever you see people who have reached a hundred, they usually say things like "I have a glass of whisky before I go to bed" and they don't eat sensible foods. So I don't believe in any of that.

NP: Not necessarily but it could be one of the ways that people do achieve longevity.

PM: I think there's more going for it than standing next to somebody who has got more money than you at a bus stop. I don't know why you didn't start with this one! Why did you make that number seven? Why not make that number one because it actually means something?

TH: Well if I get the subject back, I might, I might extend that.

PM: Don't put yourself out on my account!

NP: So right...

SH: You should let me have the subject because I am 78 and I can tell you how I have reached that age.


SH: Sheer luck is the answer! And pills! Lots of pills!


TH: Sheer luck and pills! That's six and five, I was coming to them!

PM: Tell us what four was, that's the only one we haven't had.

NP: Well I'm older than you Sheila.

SH: I know, well, you can have the subject then.

TH: Why don't we let Nicholas have the subject?

PM: How many seconds are left.

SH: Yeah Nicholas!

NP: Right, four seconds, there are many ways of achieving longevity. One id eating sensibly, another is taking plenty of...


NP: At the end, oh, we are just moving into the final round, it's very interesting. Paul Merton is just in the lead, one point ahead of Graham Norton, who is one point ahead of Sheila Hancock who is three points ahead of Tony Hawks, and Nicholas Parsons has got one point, for speaking when the whistle went. Right, I don't think I have got a chance of winning...

TH: It's quite good news for me that you are there though. Otherwise I'd be in last place.

NP: Graham...

GN: Yes?

NP: We'd like you to begin this round.

GN: Nicholas.

NP: The subject is eavesdropping, 60 seconds starting now.

GN: Eavesdropper beware! For though it seems very interesting and fun to overhear a conversation that you're not supposed to, often you will hear, have I said that, yes I have...


NP: Tony you challenged.

TH: Yes repetition of hear.

NP: Yes he said hear before. Eavesdropping is with you Tony, 45 seconds available starting now.

TH: We have some eaves in the barn where I do a lot of dancing. And the birds get up there and there are so many droppings it's quite unpleasant. I'm trying to do a willow stripping...


NP: Graham challenged.

PM: Strip The Willow, not willow stripping. Strip The Willow.

GN: He's talking about bird droppings.

NP: Yes.

GN: Not eavesdropping, the eaves aren't pooing on you.

NP: No no, no, it is listening in on other people's conversations.

TH: Well I thought we were encouraged to take things off in other directions in humorous and enlightening ways.

SH: Oh now he's going to be depressed, you are Tony. You are allowed to do that.

GN: Now I feel awful. Well, except he is always like this, so why does it matter?

NP: Graham...

TH: You make it worse.

NP: I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt and say that you have 35 seconds on eavesdropping starting now.

GN: There was a man in our office, nobody liked him. And one day other people who worked in said bureau were on the train coming to the place where they earnt money. And ah the person...


TH: Hesitation.

NP: Yes. So you see, you get back in Tony, it's all very fair. Nineteen seconds, eavesdropping starting now.

TH: I will very often tiptoe outside the confessional in a Catholic Church, even though I am not of that faith, and listen...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: If you're not of that faith, what are you doing in a Catholic Church?

TH: Well I'm going in there to hear all the confessions.

PM: But you just said you didn't.

TH: What do you mean, I didn't?

PM: Oh you do want to eavesdrop on people's confessions?

TH: I can't remember what I said!

NP: Paul you can go into a Catholic church, if you're not a Catholic. It doesn't, when you are touring in Europe and all those beautiful cathedrals and churches...

PM: Yes.

NP: ... which are Roman Catholic, you go in, you admire the beauty and...

SH: But Tony isn't going in to admire, he's going in to sneak up and listen to confession which I think is deviation of the worst kind.

PM: Well I wouldn't say it was deviation of the worst kind...

SH: No...

PM: I'll go with what you are saying generally for the sake of light entertainment.

NP: He went in originally for other reasons. So you have the benefit of the doubt on this one Tony and you still have eavesdropping and 11 seconds starting now.

TH: I had seven reasons for going into the said place of worship. One, I had spent some time standing next to somebody wealthier than I...


NP: Oh what an interesting final result! I can't believe it! Tony Hawks and Sheila Hancock were equal with eight points in second place, and only one point ahead were equal winners, Graham Norton and Paul Merton. A round of applause for all four of them! So a very fair result because they all contributed so much and were such fun. And all I have to say is I hope you have enjoyed the show. And I give my thanks to these four fine players of the game, Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Sheila Hancock, Graham Norton. I thank Sarah Sharpe, who has helped me with the score, blown her whistle delightfully when the 60 seconds elapsed. We are grateful to our producer Tilusha Ghelani. And we are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And we are very grateful to this lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre who have cheered us on our way. 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! Yeah!