starring PAUL MERTON, JULIAN CLARY, STEPHEN FRY and RUSSELL TOVEY, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Television, 27 March 2012)

NOTE: Julian Clary's first TV appearance, Stephen Fry's first TV appearance, Russell Tovey's only appearance.

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Oh thank you, thank you, Hello, my name's Nicholas Parsons and as the Minute Waltz fades away, it’s my great pleasure to welcome you to this special edition of Just A Minute from BBC Television Centre. Every day I'll be joined by four fantastic guests to play this amazing game, the rules of which take just a minute to learn, but years to master. The players will try to speak for just a minute on a subject that I give them and they must try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And by the way, they can repeat the subject on the card. So, without further ado, please welcome the four wonderful, talented performers who this week are going to play Just A Minute. And they are, seated on my right, Paul Merton and Julian Clary, and seated on my left, Russell Tovey and Stephen Fry. Please welcome all four of them. And to begin the show, Stephen, we'd like you to start off this time, and the subject is, ooh, tongue twisters. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

STEPHEN FRY: One of my favourite tongue twisters is actually French. In the Gallic language, if you say 'Dido', as in Queen of Carthage, dined, they say, off the back of an enormous turkey, it's rendered as "Dido dit-on dinait d'os du dos du dodu dindon", which is not bad. "The seething sea ceaseth and thus sufficeth us." It's quite a tough one to say. I as a child…


NP: Julian has challenged.

JULIAN CLARY: Was it, was it repetition of one.

NP: Yes, you did say 'one' before.

SF: Did I?

NP: Yes, but I don't know why you didn't challenge him for that "D-d-d-d-d-d-d..."

JC: And that as well.

SF: There was no repetition at all in that. They were all different words. "Dido dit-on dinait do’s du dos du dodu dindon." They're all different words.

PAUL MERTON: And that's also the theme tune to The Archers.

NP: Julian, a correct challenge, so you get a point for that. You have 39 seconds still available. Tongue twisters, starting now.

JC: I won't be doing any French tongue twisters. How about this one? Peter Piper picked a pack of peanuts.


SF: Oh sorry.

NP: Stephen.

SF: I thought he was going to say the proper one. I thought he had mis-said 'peck'. He wrongfooted me rather brilliantly there.

NP: No no, incorrect challenge Stephen. So Julian, you have another point. You have 32 seconds starting now.

JC: Tongue twisters are very useful. I believe if you go to drama school, it teaches you how to enunciate properly which will be a boon when you take to the stage as part of your professional career, or in films. You don't want to be tripping over your words and not being able to talk like a proper, professional member of your profession would. You wouldn't get any work and your agent would phone you up and say "I'm sorry..."


NP: Stephen‘s challenged.

SF: There were five woulds there which I think is too many.

NP: All right, we'd let one go, but there were four or five there.

PM: Well one‘s all right. Two is repetition.

NP: Stephen, correct challenge. And you've got in cleverly with only seven seconds to go on tongue twisters, starting now.

SF: As a child, I spoke far too quickly and had to have elocution lessons in order to slow me down because nobody understood a word I said. Thus, tongue twisters were something...


NP: In this game, whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion, it was Stephen Fry, so at the end of the first round, he is in the lead alongside Julian Clary. And let's move on. Julian, we'd like you to begin this next round, oh, a delightful subject, my first day at school. Sixty seconds as usual, starting now.

JC: I remember my first day at school. I wandered down the corridor and I couldn't find my classroom. Eventually, a woman who turned out to be the headmistress, called Miss Kennefick, said "Boy, what's your problem?" Don't look at me like that. And I said, "Well, I'm afraid I'm lost." And I was then put on a trolley and taken by wheel...


NP: Paul, you've challenged. What's your challenge?

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes, it was. He deserves to hesitate after that. On a wheel? You were taken by wheel?

JC: I was on a trolley and I made that up. It just came from nowhere.

NP: Right. It's correct, Paul. So you have a point. And 36 seconds. My first day of school, starting now.

PM: Always the first day at school seems to be a day of paranoia, a strange building, unusual faces, people you don't know. And you suddenly think, "I must pull myself together. "I'm the deputy headmaster." And so you wander across the playground and you say to the pupils arranged in front of you, "You are a beautiful boy. "What are you doing on that trolley? Take that wheel." And they do. And I noticed that all the other pupils around me look up to me and they say, "You are the backbone of this educational institution. You..."


PM: Are repeating yourself.

NP: Julian yes

JC: Repetition of "you".

NP: Very much emphasised there. So, Julian.

PM: You can't keep your eyes off me, can you?

JC: Do you know, you're the only heterosexual on this panel?

PM: Is that right Nicholas?

NP: No. That was a moment, wasn't it?

PM: It was.

NP: I was thrown for a minute. I didn't know whether to say yes or no. You've cleverly got in with three seconds to go. On my first day at school, starting now.

JC: No-one explains where the lavatory is on these occasions and yes, it's true, there was an accident.


NP: So Julian Clary was then speaking as the whistle went and gains that extra point. At the end of the round, he's in the lead but only just, ahead of Stephen Fry, Paul Merton and Russell in that order. Russell, I want you to start the next round. The subject is things that go bump in the night, 60 seconds as usual and your time starts now.

RUSSELL TOVEY: Crash, bang, kapow, zing, wallop. These are all noises, but we're here to talk about things that go bang, bump!


RT: Oh! I was on a roll. That's me mute for the rest of the show now.

NP: Julian, you challenged first.

JC: Well, it was repetition of bang, but let him keep the subject.

RT: No no.

JC: I’d rather you did.

NP: I think they're all going to be generous and let you continue.

RT: Oh really? Oh thanks.

NP: First time you've ever played the game. So lean forward, so it looks as if you're more involved. And you've got 50 seconds, things that go bump in the night. Starting now.

RT: So we're here to talk about things that go bump in the night. Have you ever woken in your bed, sweating, twitching, crying for your mum? This is me every night. I roll over.


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: I just want to point out pausing is also not to be encouraged. You speak quite... I don't want the subject, but...

NP: They're being very generous and they want you to continue in order to get some practice, so lean forward…

RT: Lean forward.

NP: And there are 38 seconds still, if you want them.

RT: Yes I‘d love them..

SF: Good Lord!

NP: Things that go bump in the night, starting now.

RT: I find it terrifying to know what's underneath my bed. When I was a child, I really enjoyed the movie Gremlins, but I believed that they lived behind my parents' door and in their wardrobes. So I rarely went in there.


NP: Paul.

PM: A natural conclusion.

RT: You could say yeah.

NP: Yes, I think that pause was so long I’ll have to give it to him.

RT: I’m sorry.

JC: Also, could you lean forward?

RT: Lean forward? I’ll be hanging off the edge!

NP: It does look as if you're more involved, Russell, that's the reason.

RT: I couldn't be any more further forward!!

NP: No, no, that was a joke on Julian‘s part.

RT: Oh sorry. Got it!

NP: That was his strange sense of humour.

JC: It's one of my catchphrases.

RT: Oh I see.

NP: Another point to you Julian. Paul…

PM: What? Hello. You can't keep your eyes off me, can you?

JC: Hello.

PM: One at a time, please, do you mind forming a queue?

NP: It's that jacket, Paul, I've never seen you in such a smart...

PM: It's not the jacket. I think I've seen that jacket before.

NP: Yes I have…

PM: It was a deckchair in Littlehampton, wasn't it?

NP: I don't mind if you make jokes at my expense, if they get laughs. I've been the straight man to many comedians. I know how to take it and come back. I don't know where we were, but...Paul, I think you had the correct…

PM: Yeah.

NP: And there are 25 seconds still available. Things that go bump in the night, starting now.

PM: Things that go bump in the night, often essential ingredients in ghost stories. One thinks of those Victorian classics, of women out on the moors, in sc... oh…


PM: What was I trying to say? Ensconced I think.

NP: It didn’t come out.

PM: Didn’t come out.

NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Oh hesitation.

NP: Yes so you've got the subject of things that go bump in the night, 15 seconds, starting now.

JC: I live in a very old house in the country, a farmhouse, and there are all kinds of things that...


NP: Stephen challenged.

SF: Well it's sort of a moot point, isn't it, whether a house and a farmhouse is house repeated or not.

NP: Anybody in the audience know? I think…

PM: It is one word. Farmhouse.

SF: Farmhouse is one word.

NP: So it’s an incorrect challenge.

SF: Yeah I think it was.

NP: Julian you have another point. You have 11 seconds, things that go bump in the night, starting now.

JC: I heard this scratching under my bed. It turns out it was a badger going bump. I said "What's your business here under my boudoir?" And it happened to be...



JC: It’s very distracting!

PM: What?

JC: You doing all this.


JC: While I’m trying to speak.

PM: Would you prefer me to wait in the van?

NP: So what's the challenge, Paul?

PM: Hesitation. Gross hesitation in fact.

NP: Yes.

PM: Gross hesitation.

NP: The thing is, Paul, I'm rather reluctant to give it to you because there's only half a second ago. So, to be fair to Julian, as you were putting him off slightly, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

PM: By putting my hand on my hip?

JC: Yes.

PM: And that put you off?

JC: I know your game!

PM: I didn't come here to be insulted.

JC: Shall we carry on?

NP: Yes you’ve only got half a second and you start now.

JC: Things that go bump…


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes right. So it's only fair that you both get a point. Julian, you got one just then. Paul, I'm going to give him one just now. So that evens it out. You've both got benefits of the doubt. You've got a quarter of a second to go. Things that go bump in the night starting now.

PM: Bump.


PM: Was I really putting you off?

NP: So at the end of the round, the situation is that Julian Clary is now out in the lead. He's three points ahead of Paul Merton. Then it's Stephen Fry and then Russell Tovey in that order. And Paul, we'd like you to begin the next round. A bad hair day. Will you tell us something about that subject, in this game, starting now.

PM: I went to Wimbledon greyhound track the other week, they said, "Unfortunately, the meeting has been cancelled." I said "Why?" "Well, we have a bad hare day. The automatic hare."


PM: What are you groaning at, you weren't there. The automatic hare won't come out."


PM: I’ve said authomatic hare three times now.

NP: Stephen’s challenged.

SF: Repetition of automatic.

NP: Right, correct challenge, you have 49 seconds to tell us something about a bad hair day starting now.

SF: Almost every day's a bad hair day for me. I have hair that just sort of spreads out and can't lie down properly. It needs a great deal of attention, and no matter how I have it cut it seems peculiar in the way it behaves. If I do a documentary series, for example, you travel around the world, and it's sort of edited together in different ways, so I go from a crew cut to a great, massive James May look to some other hideous appearance. I really do dislike the way my hair behaves. There's nothing I can do about it. I suppose I could shave it off. That used to be a fashion. I call that a bad baldness day. That's just not acceptable. So I have to live with it. It's some of the...worst...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: Oh hesitation.

NP: Yes, I think it was a hesitation. Julian, you've got in on a bad hair day. Nine seconds, starting now.

JC: I had a bad hair day in 1989. It just wouldn't sit right. Well, I cried for a week. But since then, bad hair days have been a stranger to me, of the heterosexual persuasion.


PM: (pointing at audience) Do you mean him, over there?

NP: So Julian Clary was speaking as the whistle went and gets an extra point. And you have increased your lead at the end of that round, Julian. Stephen, we'd like you to begin the next round. Great inventions. Tell us something about that subject in this game, 60 seconds starting now.

SF: Perhaps the greatest invention of my lifetime took place in the late '80s and early '90s at the Centre Europeenne de Recherche Nucleaire, or CERN, in Switzerland, where a young British computer scientist called Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. His original name for it was The Information Mine, but being a modest fellow, he realised those initials spelt out his actual name. That has been hugely, hugely influential.


SF: Twice, damn.

NP: Paul you challenged first.

PM: It was hugely hugely yes.

NP: Hugely hugely yes Paul, tell us something about great inventions, 36 seconds available starting now.

PM: So many great inventions seem to have occurred in the last 100 years or so. If we look at the invention of cinema, which itself sprang from the techniques of the magic linetern shows, we can see...


NP: Stephen challenged.

SF: There really is no such word as linetern.

PM: Oh, I'm sorry, was the 19th-century pronunciation putting you off? I was being too erudite.

NP: Wonderful attempt to get out of it, but it was magical lantern, it should have been.

PM: Yes indeed.

NP: Stephen, you got in with another correct challenge. And there are 27 seconds, great inventions, starting now.

SF: Without wishing to seem sycophantic, to be perfectly honest, Ian Messiter, 45 years ago, invented a game called Just a Minute, which has entertained the nation for all that time. And not one episode has not been presented by this man here.


NP: Julian you challenged.

JC: Repetition of not.

NP: I know, but I'd like him to finish.

SF: Yes, I mean, it's pretty amazing, isn't it?

NP: Yes, every single show. I did the pilot and I'm still doing it.

JC: How many episodes is it?

NP: Eight hundred and 50.

JC: Good Lord! Round of applause.


PM: And do you think you’re getting the hang of it?

NP: Slowly, Paul, slowly.

PM: I think you are. I really think you're improving.

NP: Yes I think so.

PM: I think you’ve got it now.

NP: So, Julian, your challenge, just remind me?

JC: Repetition of not.

SF: A double negative.

NP: Yes unfortunately, not. A tough challenge but correct.

SF: He's a tough man, a tough man.

JC: Julian, you have...

JC: You talk about me as if I'm not in the room!

NP: Julian, great inventions, seven seconds starting now.

JC: The telephone is a fantastic invention. I speak to my mother every day at least once and she informs me…


NP: So Julian Clary was speaking as the whistle went and gains an extra point. And Julian, it's your turn to begin. Around the campfire, 60 seconds as usual, starting now.

JC: I sit around the campfire generally waiting for my Billy to boil. And you would be surprised how quickly this occurs. There is this hissing sound and I think, "Here comes Daddy." And while I'm around the campfire…


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: That is just nonsense, isn’t it. Here comes Daddy"? Hesitation.

NP: There was a hesitation..

JC: There was.

NP: You have around the campfire, 45 seconds, starting now.

PM: I remember going camping, I was about nine years old, with the Catholic Church. They'd organised it, and so I went along with some fellow pupils roughly my age. And there was a campfire and the tents were placed all around this magnificent, burning, fiery furnace, and we would soak up the heat and also look to our fellow candidates in the world…


NP: Stephen challenged.

SF: He said fellow before actually.

PM: Did I?

NP: Yes.

PM: Oh yes I think I did.

NP: Right you did and Stephen, you listened well, you got in there, 24 seconds are still available around the campfire, starting now.

SF: I was never a Cub or a Scout, that didn't ever appeal to me.


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: It was an involuntary spasm. Can you lean forward?

RT: I didn’t want to block the view!

JC: No, I was thinking 'ever' and 'never'.

NP: No it was a mistake. Stephen you have another point. You have 20 seconds, the subject, around the campfire, starting now.

SF: There's a great comic scene in Mel Brooks' film Blazing Saddles where the cowboys are all around the campfire eating beans and then slowly one after the other they lift their thighs. An explosion of wind occurs which lasts about 20 seconds, it seems. At the time, it was shocking…


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: "De time." He said "at de time."

SF: Did I? At de time? At de time?

PM: It’s a bit spiritual.

JC: I understand.

NP: No, no. Julian, I think that's a little bit pedantic. Oh you've got three seconds left and your time starts now.

SF: It's where humanity began to tell stories and explain the way the universe works.


NP: So, Stephen Fry was then speaking, and gains that extra point. And he's moved forward. He is now in second place. Julian Clary, still in the lead, two or three points ahead of Stephen, then Paul Merton, one behind. Russell's trailing just a little. Stephen's turn to begin. The subject is the portrait in my attic, 60 seconds starting now.

SF: I think it's a reference to A Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, though in fact, in that novel, the picture is...


NP: Russell’s challenged.

RT: Yeah, hesitation.

SF: It was, it was. Absolutely was.

NP: Whether it's correct or not, I think this audience thinks it's correct.

RT: They’re with me! Thank you very much.

NP: Russell, you have the subject of the portrait in my attic, 52 seconds starting now.

RT: There are various portraits in my attic, lots of my dead relatives have been painted over the years and put in gilt frames and hung on walls.


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Your dead relatives have been painted, and hung in frames? What sort of bizarre Satanic ritual is this? A portrait is one thing, but hanging your dead...?

NP: Well, we loved your interruption, and you get a bonus point for that, but Russell was interrupted. And you're keeping going on the subject quite well.

RT: Thanks.

NP: So the subject is still the portrait in my attic, 45 seconds starting now.

RT: So looking at the timeline of members past, they were immortalised by artists, famous or not, of the day. They were great...works.


RT: Who did that.

PM: Well, there was a bit of a gap.

NP: A bit? So, Paul, correct challenge. The portrait in my attic, 35 seconds, starting now.

PM: The portrait in my attic, as Stephen remarks, is referring to The Picture of Dorian Gray...


NP: Stephen challenged.

SF: No, I was referring to the opposite. It is a mistake to believe there was a picture in the attic.

PM: Oh.

SF: It was actually in the school room that he kept his portrait.

PM: Oh was it?

SF: Not in the attic. You have to read the book to discover that. It's actually kept in the school room.

PM: So why has the attic come about?

SF: It's just one of those things. People didn't read the book clearly. They know it's in an upper room. And these days, people don't have school rooms, some people don’t have school rooms upstairs in their house.

PM: Yes. Some of them got turned into comprehensives.

SF: Yes we live in a different time (speaks in French). But in The Picture of Dorian Gray, it’s a school room, not an attic.

PM: Oh interesting.

NP: But we all refer to it as the portrait in the attic..

SF: You do but you’re wrong to, that’s the point. It’s deviation.

JC: I think we should move on now.

SF: Yeah I think… it's getting a little bogged down. It's for the best.

NP: No, I love it when we have these little…

PM: Exactly.

NP: Yes.

PM: Absolutely.

NP: But, Stephen, you can definitely have it. There are 31 seconds, the portrait in my attic, starting now.

SF: So it is cum-ingly meant to be...


SF: Cumingly? Cum-ingly, Cuv-entry, Mont-gum-ery. That's just the way we talk.

NP: You're wriggling very well but it's not right. What's your challenge?

JC: Deviation. He said cum-ingly. Unless it’s some word from Oxbridge we don't know about.

NP: Correct challenge Julian…

SF: Uxbridge? Did you say Uxbridge?

PM: That's where I went.

SF: Oh right.

NP: Twenty-nine seconds, the portrait in my attic, Julian, starting now.

JC: The portrait in my attic is by Damien Hirst. I wasn't best pleased when I looked at it the other day and it was covered in spots. So I phoned up the artist and said, "What's all this about?" Apparently, it's his technique, it's his...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of it’s his.

NP: Followed by a pause. Right….

SF: The funny thing is, if anyone in this room knows about Damien Hirst's technique, it's Russell Tovey. He owns quite a few of them. You're quite a big collector?

RT: Not of Damien Hirst but I collect art. I wish I did have a Damien Hirst.

SF: You don’t have a Damien Hirst?

RT: No I wish I’d got any. Do you?

SF: No I haven’t.

NP: Would you two mind if we got on with the show?

SF: Sorry sorry, yeah sorry.

PM: I've got a Damien Hirst which I've hung above the mantelpiece. It's actually him. Painted him up and everything.

NP: Paul you had a...

PM: One person’s clapping! Don't do that on your own, somebody will throw you a fish. All coming out tonight, aren't they? You still here?

NP: Paul...

PM: Oh, yes go on then.

NP: You've got a correct challenge and you have 18 seconds. The portrait in my attic, starting now.

PM: The portrait in my attic is a chalk drawing of myself when I was eight-years-old, as I looked when I attended Butlins holiday camp in Clacton. I remember the artist now. He sat me down on the chair, he looked me in the eyes, "This would be a challenge, to capture such intense beauty, "it's almost beyond my skills but I've..."


NP: So, Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went and gained that extra point for doing so. And the situation is...


PM: Ooh, are we having a seance?

NP: I always think a little ice-cream van is going to come by then. The same bell we used to have when we were young with the ice cream van. Did you ever have that?

PM: When the all clear sounded?

NP: Ding ding ding. It means that we've only time for one more round.

PM: Are we not having a seance?

NP: No séance and whose turn is it to begin? Oh, it's Julian. And you're out in the lead. Here's the subject, keep going and you'll stay there. As we go into the final round, Julian is one point ahead of Paul Merton and three points ahead of Stephen. Russell has a job to catch up in this last round. But not to worry, Russell, your contribution is what matters. Not the points.

RT: Yes right.

NP: And Julian the subject is Marie Antoinette. What a glorious, historical subject. 60 seconds, starting now.

JC: Marie Antoinette, of course, had a very fortunate life, up to a point, and that was when she was beheaded for offering people cake. Well, I can quite understand...


NP: Russell challenged.

RT: A hesitation. Kind of?

NP: Kind of.

RT: I’m just desperate to get in as well.

NP: I understand. We're desperate to hear from you! So you've got 50 seconds…

RT: Oh God have I got to talk?

NP: ..on Marie Antoinette, starting now.

RT: Marie Antoinette was one of the most famous people to have her head cut off, alongside Anne Boleyn and Charles the First. This happened because up to a point, as my right honourable gentleman was saying earlier, she was liked and then disliked by the French people, because she was Austrian and they didn't like that they were an enemy.


NP: Stephen challenged.

SF: There were too many likes, really. There were quite a lot of likes.

NP: Likes.

RT: I didn't mean to...

SF: I feel... I feel like a bully now.

RT: It's all right. I'll sit back and just...

JC: No, lean forwards!

SF: I'll make a deliberate mistake.

PM: Even if you don't say much, you might as well be in the programme.

NP: Stephen its a correct challenge so we give you the point and Marie Antoinette is the subject, 29 seconds, starting now.

SF: Indeed, she was Austrian. The French called her when they started to dislike her as you said, L'autre-chienne, which meant "Austrian bitch" in French which is a very nasty insult because she was not popular.


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of French.

SF: There was French twice.

PM: Yes.

RT: And a swear word.

NP: And a swear word right. But a French one so there'll be letters from French people.

PM: You could have said French letters but you didn't so that was good. That joke was not explored. Well done.

NP: Paul, you have 18 seconds. Tell us something about Marie Antoinette, starting now.

PM: Marie Antoinette is the name of my cat. She's a beautiful creature. Half-Persian and 50 percent...


NP: Julian challenged.

JC: No...no.

PM: Oh, that's good enough for me. What do you mean, no?

JC: Obviously, I thought you were going to say half again as you nearly did.

NP: You were anticipating in other words, half Persian and half...

JC: And I hate myself for it.

NP: Why?

JC: Because he didn't say half.

NP: Only hate yourself because you've given Paul another point.

PM: That’s why he hates himself.

NP: Ah.

JC: Now you're going to win

PM: No I’m not! That's the last thing that should happen.

NP: Julian, it was an incorrect challenge. So, Paul, you have another point. You have 13 seconds, Marie Antoinette, starting now.

PM: The litter tray is placed by the back door. Her expectant eyes look up at me and I say, "Yes, it's time to play." And so we pull back the curtains, she looks down the end of the garden and her rather haughty nose and says to me...


NP: So, Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. A little while ago when that tinkle occurred, it was the last round. So let me give you the final score. Russell Tovey who's never played the game before came…

RT: Last!

NP: Last! He actually didn't come last, he came in fourth place.

PM: If there were five people, he would have come fifth.

NP: Stephen, who does so well usually, came in third place. Out in the lead, two points ahead of Julian Clary was Paul Merton. So we say, Paul, you are the winner today.

PM: You were right. I did win.

NP: Then it remains for me to say a final thank you to these four fine players of the game. So from this delightful audience here in Television Centre and from me, Nicholas Parsons, and this wonderful team, good-bye, thank you and do join us again the next day we play Just A Minute.