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 around the world. And also to welcome to the show four exciting, dynamic and talented players of this game. And they are, seated on my right, Paul Merton and Ross Noble. And seated on my left, Gyles Brandreth and Jenny Eclair. Please welcome all four of them! And as usual I am going to ask them to speak on a subject I will give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Sitting beside me is Sarah Sharpe, she is going to help me with the score, she is going to blow a whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And tonight we are celebrating an anniversary because it is the 45th year of Just A Minute, and the first of a new series in the 46th year. So you are privileged, audience here, to be in on this historic occasion. And I've been told that all the subjects have a little retro feel about them, in keeping with the celebration. $5 years, I did the first pilot, I'm still doing it. God, I can't believe it! Am I really that old?


NP: Yes? Oh I shouldn't ask that, should I? All right Paul, let's start the show with you and the subject is when I wear a top hat. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

PAUL MERTON: I like to wear a top hat when I am visiting 10 Downing Street. Prime Minister Harold Wilson always greets me with a lovely smile. I also like to wear a top hat when I am pretending to be Isambard Kingdom Brunell. I stroll around the Bristol area, building bridges, smoking a small cigar and posing behind large chains. That's the only photograph you ever see of the afore-mentioned gentleman. They must have taken more pictures, but I dare say that was considered the most photographic. I also like to wear a top hat when I am working as a magician. I balloon... oh...


NP: Gyles you challenged.


NP: It was a hesitation yes and you went for a full 30 seconds Paul. And that means you've got 30 seconds left, you get a point for a correct challenge Gyles, you take over the subject, when I wear a top hat starting now.

GB: When I wear a top hat, watch out, because my personality changes. I don't become Fred Astaire, I become the Mad Hatter...


NP: Oh Jenny challenged.

GB: Become!


NP: Yes.

GB: Become!

NP: Become.

GB: Become!

JE: I'm sure you're very becoming in your top hat but you said become twice.

NP: What I loved was half the audience picked it up as well. They, ohhhhh! So Jenny, a correct challenge, a point to you, you take over the subject, 22 seconds are still available, when I wear a top hat starting now.

JE: I wear my top hat when I go tap dancing. Coat tails, white tights, stockings, suspenders... shuffles...


JE: Oh I nearly said tap twice!

NP: Gyles.

GB: There was a couple of taps and a hesitation when she realised it.

JE: Yes.

NP: Fourteen seconds Gyles, when I wear a top hat starting now.

GB: I caper like a zany, as though created by Lewis Carroll. A bit unfortunate as I am at a Buckingham Palace garden party wearing the afore-mentioned top hat. And when I am introduced to the Queen, I bow low before her...


NP: Ross challenged.

ROSS NOBLE: No, sorry, I'm an idiot!

NP: Why?

RN: Sorry.

PM: Is that breaking news?

RN: It is, yeah.

PM: Is that breaking news?

NP: I can't give you a bonus point for that.

RN: I was momentarily distracted by a man in full Hawaiian dress! Sorry! I know, strictly speaking, it's not within the rules of the game. But we've got a man dressed as Magnum and I panicked and thought that was a panic button. So...

JE: I think his wife might have told him they were going on a cruise. You look great!

RN: You've clearly got malaria! So yeah, so I won't be challenging under the rules, but that's the only time I'm going to be pressing the buzzer.

NP: Right, give him a bonus point because we did enjoy what he said.

RN: Thanks.

NP: All right and ah...

RN: Thank you very much.

NP: Gyles you were interrupted so you keep the subject and you've got four seconds only on when I wear a top hat starting now.

GB: When I last went to Hawaii, I took my top hat and looked perfectly ridiculous. I was...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: I couldn't quite hear, he was going at such a speed. there was a deviation, did he mispronounce something?

GB: No.

NP: No he didn't mispronounce it, he was going very quickly to get it in in the four seconds.

PM: Right.

NP: So he didn't actually.

PM: No, okay.

NP: It was all very slurred but...

JE: He's been drinking!

NP: And he's been drinking, yes. One second yes, you've got another point Gyles, start now.

GB: Size 17...


NP: So at the end of that round, of course in this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains the extra point. It was Gyles Brandreth, he got others in the round, he's in a strong lead. And we go to Ross to begin the next round. Ross Noble, I don't know why this has been chosen for you, but it's certainly a period, the English nanny. Can you tell us something about, I don't know whether you have ever employed one...

RN: Oh yeah, all the time.

NP: Really?

RN: Yeah when I was a child.

NP: Right, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

RN: The biggest problem with the British nanny is they always hang around with chimney sweeps...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well deviation, this is the English nanny, not the British nanny.

NP: That's right.

RN: Oh so England's not part of Britain, any more?

PM: Yes.

RN: You, you dirty racists!

NP: Actually I think Ross has got a valid point there. The subject is the English nanny...

PM: Yes.

NP: But he's happened to go off on the British nanny.

PM: Yes so, so he hasn't gone off the subject at all.

NP: Not quite, no.

PM: No.

NP: It was a good try, we love hearing from you. Right so Ross a point to you, incorrect challenge, 57 seconds, the English nanny starting now.

RN: Wales and Scotland, of course, have excellent nannies. But the English nanny is the particular type of nanny that I am going to talk about now. If you were to go across the bridge into that fine Welsh country, you would hear them going (in Welsh accent) "oh look at that posh children over there, they're desperate for somebody to look after them." If you were to go to...


NP: Paul, Paul challenged.

PM: Oh deviation from the English nanny. We are getting a lot of Welsh now, you see.

RN: Because he was looking across at the English children!

PM: Well you hadn't made that clear.

RN: Well I was about to. Had I not been so rudely interrupted, sir!

NP: No, Ross had the benefit of the doubt last time, you've got it this time Paul. And you have got 37 seconds to tell us something about the English nanny starting now.

PM: The European nanny is...


RN: I'm simply not having it!

PM: I think you'll find England is part of Europe, the same way it is part of Britain.

NP: Jenny, you want to say something?

JE: Was it part of Europe in 1967 or am I being very stupid?

PM: Are you mixing up membership of the Common Market with being in Europe?

JE: Probably Paul, yeah.

NP: Right Paul, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, because as I said to Ross when he talked about the British nanny, you were going to go off and obviously compare it with the English nanny, because you hadn't got established. So you still have the subject, 35 seconds, the English nanny starting now.

PM: One of the first films I saw in the cinema was Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews. And I think back to that marvellous picture. You still see it running at Christmas time and Easter, and it's a magnificent piece of cinema. The set designs, the performances, those wonderful songs. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious...


PM: Oh did I repeat that, did I?

GB: The English nanny is what we are supposed to be talking about.

NP: Yes.

GB: And he's conjuring up...

PM: Mary Poppins!

GB: Yes we appreciate you are conjuring up Mary Poppins. But we are way way way away from the qualities of the English nanny. No English nanny would actually refer to...

NP: I think Mary Poppins turned out to be the most amazing nanny we've ever seen, and she...

JE: She wasn't real! Nicholas, she wasn't real!

NP: It doesn't matter, she was an English nanny. In fiction...

GB: I know you feel a bit difficult about this Nicholas, because, no, no, no, Dick van Dyke got the part, Nicholas hoped for it. But they preferred Dick's accent, I don't know why.

RN: Can I have like a future challenge that he was going to do repetition! Um diddle iddle iddle um diddle aye! Um diddle iddle iddle um diddle aye!

NP: No I can't give you any more bonus points!

RN: But strictly speaking this show is in the past. So therefore if we wait 45 years, can I have the point.

NP: This...

PM: You want a point in 45 years!

NP: This show is in the...

JE: And Nicholas will still be doing it, I can guarantee.

NP: This show is in the present, but we are talking about things from the past. And the English may just, definitely still exist, but not to the same extent as in the past. It was an incorrect challenge, Mary Poppins is a great English nanny and showed it so, though it was fiction. Eighteen seconds still with you Paul starting now.

PM: She showed wonderful powers of imagination towards the children in her charge. She wanted them to have inspired ideas, to fall in love with stories, to have their hearts lifted by imaginative ideas that pull them above the normal everyday life into a world where people could jump into chalk drawings...


NP: So Paul Merton then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now creeping up on Gyles which is a very insidious thing to do, but only metaphorically speaking, and then comes Ross Noble and Jenny in that order. And Jenny we'd like you to begin the next round. Ah here's something for you, knitting a cable stitch jumper. It's a bit of a tough subject isn't it. I don't know whether it's part of your talents or not.

JE: Oh yeah. I've got one in the dressing room! Okay I'm ready.

NP: Sixty seconds starting now.

JE: There is absolutely no point whatsoever in knitting a cable stitch jumper. Just buy one from a shop, for heaven's sake, at least it won't be riddled with holes and blood from that time you stabbed yourself and dropped the needles when you were watching Hollyoaks. The other problem with the cable knit...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: We've established we are in 1967, 18 years before Hollyoaks began.

JE: I meant Coronation Street!

NP: Oh I didn't know that we've established, we are referring back to things that occurred when the show was started back in 1967. But we are not saying that we can't refer to the present in talking about the past.

GB: Quite right and I don't think Jenny would have been born in 1967.

JE: Barely! I certainly wasn't capable of knitting a cable stitch jumper.

NP: And not now either! Anyway Jenny an incorrect challenge, I decide, and you've still got the subject and you have 41 seconds starting now.

JE: Anyway what are you going to do with it once you've knitted it. You can't knit it yourself. I'm a menopausal woman, the whole thing would give me an enormous hot flush. You'd have to give it to Kenneth Moore, he looked ever so good in a cable knit sweater. On the Richter scale of knitting, I would say...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Oh no I thought it was knitted, it was knitting, wasn't it.

JE: Yeah I said knitted and knitting.

RN: Yeah. Damn you, you Hawaiian fool! Messing with my mind with your ham and pineapple looks.

NP: I love your interjections and your interruptions Ross. But I'm afraid Jenny gets a point and there are 25 seconds Jenny still, knitting a cable stitch jumper starting now.

JE: Cable stitch knitting is harder than sticking stitch but easier than arron or feral, I would imagine, not having any clue really. In fact, just casting on would be a bit of a problem for yours truly. But then again I have other skills. However I do think that we should bring back that particular art for to our...


NP: So Jenny Eclair started with the subject and finished with it, in spite of interruptions. And she is now equal with Paul Merton in second place, one point behind Gyles Brandreth, and a couple ahead of Ross Noble. Gyles we are back with you to start, the subject here, right back to 1967, Derek Nimmo, that's the subject. Of course the reason we have chosen him is because Derek was in the original pilot of Just A Minute, and became one of the regulars for quite a while. Would you talk about him please Gyles, 60 seconds starting now.

GB: Ah Derek Robert Nimmo would indeed have been here back in 1967. Born in, 30 was the year, and then lived on until the end of the century, died before his time. Began life in Liverpool, became an actor, and then found his nose to be too large and it bogged and became a comedic player as a result of it. Famous of course for playing clergymen, especially in All Gas And Gaiters. A glorious fellow, a bon viveur, a raconteur, and a man who could twiddle his toes. I would like now to demonstrate how he did this by taking off my shoe and sock. But he had a unique way of doing it, he was a gentleman, loved having monogrammed slippers. And I do recall visiting his house in Earl's Court where there was a footman and a butler, both aristocrats. Derek himself, married to the beautiful Pat, had three children and was a darling human being who once ate a .... ahhhhh...


NP: Gyles you kept going for 58 seconds!

GB: Oh! Oh! Oh!

NP: Oh! Listen if somebody goes for 60 seconds, I give them a bonus point. I'll give you that...

JE: That's what he did! I saw it when he did A Girl In My Soup.

PM: He did a girl in your soup!

JE: That's what Derek Nimmo did.

NP: It was in Charlie Girl he did it.

GB: It was in Charlie Girl. It was in Charlie Girl.

JE: Oh, I saw Charlie Girl then.

GB: Yeah...

NP: You saw Charlie Girl...

GB: With Anna Neagle.

NP: With Anna Neagle, yes.

RN: I thought you said Leonard Nimoy! It's a good job I didn't get in then!

NP: That wasn't a very tasteful moment in Just A Minute. Jenny Eclair, because I must explain to our listeners, actually took her socks off and brought her foot up on to her table in front of her.

GB: She was able to, which is more than you and I could have done Nicholas.

JE: I can't get it back down now!

NP: Anyway you've got the bonus point and Paul's got in with two seconds to go on Derek Nimmo starting now.

PM: He came to prominence as a stuttering cleric...


NP: Paul speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He is equal in the lead now with Gyles. Gyles, a little bit of memorabilia which might amuse you, might worry you actually, is, it was often suggested, when we had the four regulars, Derek Nimmo, Peter Jones, Clement Freud and Kenneth Williams, that maybe Gyles Brandreth would be a very good choice to be in the show. And the powers that be said, oh no, we can't have Gyles, he sounds too much like Derek Nimmo!

GB: Oh!

NP: On radio, you want different voices. So that was one of the reasons you weren't with us so much at the beginning. Hasn't made an impression on you...

PM: It's only one of the reasons apparently! Only one of them!

NP: I wasn't...

PM: Nice place to find out, isn't it, nice place to find out. Only one of them.

NP: You didn't know it obviously.

GB: I didn't know it. And no, it's not what you told me at the time! That's all! That's fine!

NP: Right Paul, we are back with you to begin, the subject is things that make me blush. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PM: I suppose, like most of us, it's social embarrassing situations. I remember 30 years ago telling a group of people about some awful situation comedy I'd seen on television and realising that one of the individuals I was talking to starred in this. And I tried in some way to say "oh although it's an awful piece of words, the people in it are..."


NP: Right and Gyles challenged.

GB: Repetition of awful.

PM: Yes.

NP: Yes right. So Gyles you got in again, 43 seconds available, things that make me blush starting now.

GB: I am reading Tony Blair's memoirs and this is making me blush. The volume I have is in German, I prefer the title. A Journey is what it is called in our language, but in the foreign one it is called Ein Fart! Now this book is embarrassing me, but doesn't seem to have made Tony ...


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: Repetition of Tony.

NP: Yes.

GB: Oh.

NP: Tony yes, yes, right, and we don't want too much repetition of that. Twenty-three seconds, for you Jenny on things that make me blush starting now.

JE: Not much makes me blush because I had my embarrassment glands removed surgically by a Harley Street surgeon some years ago. In fact the only things that make me blush nowadays are hot spicy foods, too much alcohol and wearing a cable stitch jumper in an over-heated room when I am suffering from one of my hormonal mood swings...


NP: So Jenny Eclair was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. She's moved forward, oh, she is one point behind our leader Gyles and she is equal with Paul Merton. And Ross we would like you to begin the next round, and the subject is, oh this is ridiculous for radio, how to perform a Cornish floral dance. I should explain to our listeners that that laugh was because of the way Ross is looking at that particular Title. I don't know whether it is part of the floral dance or not, but will you please talk on the subject if you can Ross, starting now.

RN: Many's the time I've gone to the hip night clubs of fashionable London town and performed a Cornish floral dance. The looks on the faces of the assembled young people is a delight, as I clamber up on to a podium, put on some tight trousers, and parade around in a Cornish fashion. And by that I mean that I hold a pastie between my legs as I rhythmically sway from side to side...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Side to side.

NP: Two sides.


NP: They wanted him to go on then.

GB: Oh indeed!

NP: Thirty-three seconds Gyles, you've got the subject, how to perform a Cornish floral dance starting now.

GB: As we know, it was Sir Arnold Banks who said...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: We don't! I think, if you're including me in we...

GB: Can I say that...

RN: ... sorry but that's deviation.

GB: I was speaking to the listeners at home, and the Radio Four audience, I assure you, knows exactly who Sir Arnold Banks was, 1892, am I right? Thank you. I mean it's lovely that some people...

RN: Hang on a second, I'll be listening to this when it goes out, and I don't know. So...

NP: Ross we enjoyed your interruption, we give you a bonus point for that. Gyles was interrupted, he was speaking colloquially, it's a phrase people often use. So Gyles you have the benefit of the doubt, you continue, how to perform a Cornish pastie dance... no, sorry... it's a better subject isn't it? A Cornish floral dance starting now.

GB: In this life you should try everything once except for incest and folk dancing. So when as a child I was in Lost With You, with my auntie Morag we managed both on the same afternoon. It was an extraordinary experience, I have never known anything quite like it. I thought this...


GB: ... was to be a bucket and spade holiday but no...

NP: Oi oi oi! Sorry you've been challenged.

PM: Is it just me but isn't talking about incest deviation? The subject is a Cornish floral dance.

GB: You're right, deviation, literally and figuratively in this case.

PM: Yes.

NP: I think we have to accept that is deviation within the rules of Just A Minute.

PM: Within the rules of life, I would have thought! Never mind Just A Minute!

GB: And indeed within the rules of the magistrate we met at Truro that Sunday!

NP: Paul you have the subject and there are 15 seconds available, how to perform a Cornish floral dance starting now.

PM: Well this is a very ancient tradition that goes back many centuries. If you go to St Ives, you will find many people standing there in national costume. Because the people of Cornwall think of themselves as a separate country away from the rest of us. And they get the floral...


NP: And they get the floral, right. So Paul got that extra point for speaking as the whistle went and he's moved forward. He's one point behind Gyles who is still the leader, then Jenny Eclair and Ross Noble, all very close, very exciting! And Gyles we are back with you to begin. And here's a subject that is probably your period, what Gladstone said in 1894. Can you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

GB: What Gladstone said in 1894 was good-bye. It was the end of his golden era. He finally retired as Prime Minister having had that post four times. And in his farewell speech William Ewart Gladstone, or as the anagram goes, wild agitator means well, bade an au revoir to the British people. Blue...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: It was repetition, just of the letters. He said it was an anagram so he's repeating himself, juts not in the order that he did before.

NP: What did he repeat? Just go through it again with me.

RN: I wasn't really listening to be honest! I was too frightened that Derek Nimmo's ghost had come back to haunt me! Yeah it was an anagram...

JE: Of Gladstone.

NP: Of a name. So he repeated some of the letters, yes. Yes because...

JE: This game might have become very hard to play, all of a sudden.

PM: Are we not allowed to repeat any letters?

GB: This means...

RN: You are, just not the same ones in a different order.

GB: If I say steak, I can't then say, you know, Keats. Because Keats is an anagram of steak.

JE: Yeah but Keats has got a capital K, so it's all right.

NP: We are getting too pedantic now really, please...

GB: But not skate, skate...

NP: Gladstone, there's not, there's not a repeat of any letters in Gladstone's name. So I think it was an incorrect challenge Ross but we loved hearing from you. Gyles you've still got the subject, 38 seconds, what Gladstone said in 1894 starting now.

GB: What Gladstone said in 1894 was softly spoken, because Queen Victoria had complained that being addressed by him was like actually receiving somebody who was speaking at a public meeting...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Deviation there, a slight slip on the word.

GB: Yeah.

NP: Yes or hesitation, whichever you want.

GB: Combination of the two.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Paul, a point to you, 29 seconds, what Gladstone said in 1894 starting now.

PM: "That Nicholas Parsons is having a tremendous career," said Gladstone in 1894. As he turned, Disraeli walked in to him, he said "I thought you were dead". "No, I've come back to haunt you..."


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Sorry to be pedantic but Disraeli was dead by then.

PM: That's what I said, "I thought you were dead". I said that, that's Gladstone talking to Disraeli. "I thought you were dead". He said "I've come back to haunt you".

GB: Ah very good, very good! Very sharp!

NP: I know, I know, he was speaking nearly as fast as you did then Gyles.

GB: Yah.

NP: (very fast) So you confused him, got the words out, too him, brilliant. (normal voice) So Paul, 20 seconds, still with you, what Gladstone said in 1894 starting now.

PM: As he came towards the end of his political career, Gladstone looked out the window in 1894 and turned to his servant, Chivers and said "would you mind going to the drinks cabinet and bringing me a bottle of 1865 brandy?" And the old man servant wandered over and into the living room where the great man had stored...


NP: Oh oh yes Jenny.

JE: Couple of greats.

NP: Yes right, couple of greats. And Jenny you got in with three seconds to go, what Gladstone said in 1894 starting now.

JE: "Where's my bag?" said Gladstone in 1894...


NP: So let me give you the score, in fact we are going into the final round.


NP: Oh, wasn't much of a reaction, was it. I'll give you the situation as we enter the final round. Ross Noble, who hasn't been with us for some time, he's trailing a little in fourth place behind Jenny Eclair, who isn a strong third place. And then we have Gyles Brandreth, one point behind our leader Paul Merton. And Paul it's your turn to begin, the subject is the importance of art. What pompous questions we've got, this subject we've got. Give us something, some knowledge on that one, 60 seconds starting now.

PM: Oscar Wilde once said something to the effect that all art is useless. Of course he was being provocative. The art that we see around us, that livens up our life. If we look at colours, there's a man here wearing a beautiful Hawaiian shirt. That is a beautiful...


NP: Ross challenged.

RN: Well that's deviation, it's not beautiful, is it.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Ross, what we'll do then is we'll be generous and give you a bonus point because we enjoyed the interruption.

PM: Well the man himself is clapping, so he obviously thinks it's an ugly shirt.

NP: He obviously does, yes. You've got the subject still.

PM: Oh.

NP: You were interrupted.

PM: Yes.

NP: Because we enjoyed the interruption we give Ross a bonus point. And you've got 47 seconds Paul, the importance of art starting now.

PM: If we walk round our modern art galleries and see the fantastic paintings that have been produced over the centuries, it gives us...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: He's mentioned paintings earlier.

NP: Yes you did.

PM: Oh did I? Oh yeah I might have done yeah.

NP: Yes.

PM: Probably did, yeah.

NP: So Gyles you've got in with 40 seconds to go, the importance of art starting now.

GB: The importance of art cannot be underestimated. It is the inspiration for us all. Touch and Gaugin is how I would describe the pictures that I produce. But nonetheless my fridge door is ablaze with colour because I use food to create art and to recognise its importance as the stuff of life. I take out the ketchup and squirt it. Then out comes the mustard followed by the quiche that gives you an early Meeho effect. And there we think, it could be Corbay or is that Matisse? Either way the art critics are excited. And that curious man who used to write for the London Evening Standard and has the funny quaint voice, he comes round to my place to borrow the sugar...


NP: Well Gyles Brandeth kept going magnificently until the whistle went and deserved that huge round of applause, and the bonus point for speaking as the whistle went. And what an interesting final result. Ross who gives such great value, mostly about other people's shirts, came in fourth place. But only just behind Jenny Eclair who was only a point or two behind Paul Merton and Gyles Brandreth who very fairly are equal in the lead, so we have joint winners this week. So it only remains for me to say thank you to these four fine players of this game, Paul Merton, Ross Noble, Jenny Eclair and Gyles Brandreth. I thank Sarah Sharpe who has helped me with the score, blown her whistle so well. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. We are grateful to our producer, Claire Jones. And we are very grateful to this lovely audience here who have cheered us on our way. So from our audience, from me, Nicholas Parsons, and the team, good-bye. Tune in the next time we play Just A Minute!