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 it is my huge pleasure to welcome our many listeners not only in this country but around the world. And also to welcome to the programme four distinguished and talented, humorous performers who are going to show their skill and talent. And they are, seated on my right, Paul Merton and Sheila Hancock. And seated on my left, Marcus Brigstocke and Josie Lawrence. Please welcome all four of them! As usual I am going to ask them to speak on a subject that I will give them, and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Beside me sits Sharon Leonard, who is going to help me with the score, she is going to blow a whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the Radio Theatre in the heart of Broadcasting House. And we are going to begin the show with Paul Merton. Who better? Paul, the subject I have here is spring cleaning. tell us something about spring cleaning in Just A Minute starting now.

PAUL MERTON: Well it's very important that you get a good quality oil and a cloth. And if you are going to clean any particular spring, I'd start with the ones inside the sofa. Those springs have been there for some time, they've taken a great deal of body weight down the years. If you come from a hefty family, then you'll want to make sure your springs are nicely cleaned so that you can...


NP: Oh Josie challenged.

JOSIE LAWRENCE: Sorry there were two springs.

NP: That's right, yes, on the card it says spring cleaning and so it's a plural. Josie, well listened, you have a point for a correct challenge. Don't look surprised, darling!

JL: No!

NP: You're always a bit in awe when you come on this show.

JL: I'm in awe of you! That's why!

NP: Oh darling! Because you know I've always fancied you like mad! There are 42 seconds left Josie, and the subject is spring cleaning and you start now.

JL: Soon it will be that time of year again. You always know it's coming! The sun shines through the window panes...


NP: Marcus challenged.

MARCUS BRIGSTOCKE: Deviation. You don't always know it's coming if for example it's autumn!

JL: I said it was that time of year again.

NP: Marcus, I'm sorry, I think logically you know that spring is always coming eventually.

MB: I must say Nicholas, that's very optimistic of you!


MB: What? What did I do?

NP: I mean is that the world you live in? A world of continuous winter?

MB: Pretty much!

NP: No, an incorrect challenge I think. So Josie has another point, she keeps the subject and there are 35 seconds for spring cleaning starting now.

JL: There's dust everywhere, it's time to spring clean. And I know just the person to do it, Manuel! He's my favourite cleaner, and about May the 1st he comes around. Now this may seem a little...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: It's a bit late for a spring clean, May the 1st! It's a bit late.

NP: Yeah that's a difficult decision for me to make...

PM: Is it? Would you like a calendar?

NP: No no no, I do know that May the 1st is not the spring. The first day of spring is actually the 20th of March.

JL: It is, but Manuel doesn't know that!

NP: I know. And Josie may decide to do her spring cleaning on the 1st of May.

PM: Of course.

NP: Though it is not the usual time. I'll be generous Josie..

JL: Thank you.

NP: And say you have another point, you keep the subject, 22 seconds available, spring cleaning starting now.

JL: I always think it's best to work from the top down to the bottom. So I start in the bedroom...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SHEILA HANCOCK: Was there two starts?

JL: There was.

NP: Yes there was.

JL: There was.

NP: So Sheila, well listened, you have...


PM: Did somebody hear the Cross railing underneath us?

NP: So Sheila you've got your first points and you've got 16 seconds still available. Tell us something about spring cleaning starting now.

SH: I have decided that I have to spring clean my life, in preparation for the impending death. So I am starting at the top of my house and I'm going to throw everything out that I don't absolutely need and I...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking as the whistle goes gains an extra point. And it was Sheila Hancock, so she has two points, Josie has three, the others are yet to score. And we move on to Josie, it's your turn to begin actually.

JL: Thank you.

NP: Here's the subject, on a stormy night, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

JL: On a stormy night, the winter is howling, the black clouds race across the moon like witches on broomsticks , umbrellas are being turned inside out. Cats put out for the night are blown...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Two outs.

NP: Yes.

PM: Inside out and out.

NP: Out and out.


PM: If you're giving birth, would you name it after me?

NP: Paul, correct challenge, you have on a stormy night and you have 45 seconds starting now.

PM: Charles Dickens was making his way from London to Portsmouth. The rain was howling with the wind...


NP: Sheila Hancock challenged.

SH: I don't think rain howls.

PM: No.

NP: No no, it might feel like it but it doesn't. Correct challenge, you have 40 seconds, tell us something about on a stormy night starting now.

SH: On a stormy night in, I think it was 1987, I woke up and looked out of the window and the trees were bending in half. It was a hurricane in London and when...


NP: Marcus challenged.

MB: Well it's a deviation by way of an upgrade from a simple storm to...

SH: Oh I see yeah.

MB: ... to a hurricane. And the subject is...

NP: Marcus I'm sorry, I mean I'd love to give you a chance to speak. But the point is you can have a very stormy night and it could be a hurricane?

MB: Well, how stormy, Nicholas? I mean as stormy as that?

NP: I don't think that really matters in Just A Minute.

MB: Oh all right, fair enough.

NP: It's a stormy night. If it's a hurricane, it's still a stormy night.

JL: Exactly, storm, storm...

MB: There's been a lot of rule changes since I was last here!

PM: We know one thing! The rain wasn't howling! That we know!

NP: And 27 seconds still available Sheila, on a stormy night starting now.

SH: I seem to remember that the weather man said there wasn't going to be a gale. But the next day, when I went into Hyde Park, there were trees...


NP: Josie challenged.

JL: Trees was repeated.

NP: Yes, because you said, you were bending, the trees were bending.

SH: Yes, was I, well done.

NP: Well listened Josie, 19 seconds for you Josie, having got another point, on a stormy night starting now.

JL: On a stormy night I found myself abandoned in a broken-down car in a country lane. It was a terrible thing for me. I had just half a packet of boiled sweets that I found under the seat. Dolly Parton had been singing I Will Always Love You and suddenly, the radio stopped. The battery was dead.


NP: Well Josie Lawrence was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. It's a very interesting thing, the two girls are way out in front there, ahead of Marcus and Paul. Paul's got one point, Marcus has yet to score, but you've been trying very hard!

JL: Well he's been trying!

NP: And Marcus we'd like you to begin the next round.

MB: Yeah.

NP: The subject here which I am very fascinated by, urban foxes. Tell us something about those creatures in this game starting now.

MB: Urban foxes are very similar to ordinary countryside foxes (speaks in Cockney accent) Except they speak like this and they is a bit tougher, you get me? Because they eat food from bins and they like chewing nappies overnight. So they're not to be trusted, I don't like them at all. However they are not to be mistaken with...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: Two nots.

NP: Two nots.

SH: They are not to be...

MB: Yes quite right.

SH: I wouldn't have minded but you kind of emphasised it as well, you see! They are not...

NP: Yes but you needn't justify it, my darling, it was a correct challenge. And you have the subject of urban foxes and you have 44 seconds starting now.

SH: I love urban foxes. I'm going to start the Hammersmith Hunt because we have these beautiful red, large, smelly, dog-like creatures, sitting in our square and they're almost tame. They ate pussy cats...


NP: Paul challenged. Your challenge?

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes definitely right. Paul there are 26 seconds still available, urban foxes starting now.

PM: It was midnight, the bins were full. He walked down the alley, he was an urban fox and he knew it. He looked up at the window, a cat looked down at him, and he thought to himself, she's a cute babe but I'm on the hunt for my supper. As he walked through the cold hard streets of the metropolis, he suddenly heard a voice in his ear. It was Thelma, he hadn't heard her speak since that day...


NP: Marcus challenged.

MB: I'm gutted to have stopped that but recognition of heard.

NP: Yes and you've got in with five seconds to go.


MB: Well I'm sorry! I'll try and spoil it, shall I?

NP: No, that's the rules of the game and five seconds you've got on urban foxes, Marcus, starting now.

MB: Once I met a turban fox, he was a Sikh and seemed like a very nice sort of chap and ah but...


NP: So Marcus, you were speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And at the end of the round you have two points, and you're equal with Paul, behind Sheila and Josie who are equal in first place. Right Sheila, will you begin the next round, eavesdropping. tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

SH: Eavesdropping is something I really enjoy. It used to drive my husband absolutely insane, because when I went to a restaurant with him, I used to say "shush, I want to hear what they're saying behind me. They're having a wonderful row and it's much more interesting than you are". Nowadays it's rather spoilt because people are tweeting and you eavesdrop...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Oh hesitation unfortunately on the eaves tweet.

NP: Yes.

SH: Tweet, they're eaves tweeting, I invented a word.

NP: A stumble which we interpret as hesitation. Paul, there are 37 seconds, tell us something about eavesdropping starting now.

PM: You don't get the crossed line any more. I used to enjoy that on the telephone when you'd hear the click at the other end of the line and you knew somebody was...


NP: Oh Marcus challenged.

MB: Repetition of line.

NP: Yes, line to Marcus. They're all so sharp today, aren't they? And there are 30 seconds still available Marcus, eavesdropping starting now.

MB: The weirdest thing I ever heard whilst eavesdropping was on a bus, and one woman said to another "it'll be no use to him now, well, not as a leg anyway". And I was just fascinated to discover what the rest of that conversation could possibly have been about and who it concerned. Whoever it was there was no doubt would be in a dire dire... oh!


MB: Sometimes if you put them together, no-one spots it!

NP: Paul you've got in first with a challenge there. we know what it was, 10 seconds available, eavesdropping starting now.

PM: I remember once walking down towards Buckingham Palace. And there was a gentleman in the park just next to me who said, his eyes burning with huge intent, I will...


NP: So Paul Merton was speaking when the whistle went, gained that extra point...

SH: Can't we hear what it was the man said?

PM: I've got no idea, I was making it up.

NP: It was all coming spontaneously off the top of his head as it does and now we have an interesting situation. Sheila Hancock, Josie Lawrence and Paul Merton are now all equal in first place and just behind them is Marcus Brigstocke. And Paul it's your turn to begin again and the subject is now artificial intelligence. Tell us something about that, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

PM: In the film 2001 the computer Hal has such lines as "I can do that, Dave". When the astronaut wants him to fulfill some menial function. Later on this same piece of artificial intelligence utters such lines as "it's time for your nap now." And I think...


NP: Sheila Hancock challenged.

SH: Time for, time for?

PM: Could be.

SH: What was the first one, it's time for your something...

PM: I don't know, you tell me.

SH: Then...

PM: Was it?

NP: No, it was time travel.

MB: No, it was "I'm sorry, I can't do that, Dave."

SH: Oh I thought you said time for. Never mind, go on!

NP: So there are 43 seconds, an incorrect challenge Paul, more about artificial intelligence starting now.

PM: Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess champion, played a machine called, I think, Deep Blue, at the afore-mentioned game. And after three or four draws, the artificial intelligence thing actually beat him. And this was considered extraordinary. Because somebody once suggested that you will only know that artificial intelligence is here when you will be unable to tell the difference between that and a human being. (goes into camp voice) And this is what was achieved, oh yeah, Frankie Howerd...


PM: I went off on one! Did you notice?

NP: So Sheila, you challenged?

SH: Well, unfortunately he did Frank's hesitation, didn't it.

NP: Well all right Sheila, 14 seconds, tell us something about artificial intelligence starting now.

SH: I know nothing about the sort of artifin-shill intelligence...


PM: Can't say it! Can't say it!

SH: Can't even say it!

PM: Can't even say it.

NP: So what's your challenge Paul?

PM: Deviation.

NP: Deviation, hesitation.

PM: Yes, the lot really.

NP: Twelve seconds, for, back with you Paul, another point as well, artificial intelligence starting now.

PM: The squares on the board were occupied by all the men. When he looked down to see what this infernal device had achieved, he realised that the era of the human chess player was...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, only just.

PM: I've had too much caffeine!

SH: Yes!

NP: And you've taken the lead Paul, you're two ahead of Sheila Hancock and three ahead of Josie Lawrence, and four or five ahead of Marcus Brigstocke. Josie we'd like you to begin the next round, a dark horse, 60 seconds on that subject if you can starting now.

JL: Well it's not Black Beauty, if that's what you are thinking. Let me tell you a little story. There was this horse called Little Nell and she...


NP: Marcus challenged.

JL: Oh I said little twice.

MB: Yes little twice.

NP: Little yes, little story and Little Nell. Right so Marcus you've got in with 52 seconds to go still on a dark horse starting now.

MB: A dark horse is usually somebody who you have nothing against but you just don't trust 'em. And so you start to spread malicious gossip, suggesting that they may have some dirty little secret. But you have no evidence to support the notion that they are anything other than a perfectly ordinary person. That's why Lloyd's Bank chose one to advertise what they do, because they like to keep all sorts of nasty things hidden from the rest of ...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: Two nastys.

NP: Yeah two nastys.

MB: Well I was talking about Lloyds.

NP: Right but Sheila it was a correct challenge and you have 26 seconds on a dark horse starting now.

SH: When I was evacuated, I had never met horses and cows, because I lived in the city. And there was a field in the back of the place I was billeted with this dark horse. And I walked miles to avoid going through that particular meadow, because this thing terrified me. And I've hated horses ever since. I think they're stupid animals. They only move if you squeeze their thighs and pull at them and kick them and...


NP: And Sheila, as we are a nation of horse lovers, I don't think that's endeared you to your listeners.

SH: I know! I shall get an avalanche of letters now.

NP: Letters yes.

MB: I'm not a horse lover. I don't even eat burgers!

NP: Sheila Hancock was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, and she's now equal in the lead with Paul Merton. And that was a dark horse. I thought someone was going to talk about the Miss Marple show on television, in which I played a part, called a dark...

PM: That was a pantomime horse, wasn't it!

NP: I was a dark horse....

PM: Oh were you.

NP: ... who was murdered.

PM: Oh were you?

NP: And it's a very interesting thing how literally people take things. Because when I was, the very next day I joined a cruise ship as an entertainer, and people said "oh what are you doing here? You were murdered yesterday!"

SH: Were you in a skit?

NP: No I was playing an Irish priest actually.

SH: Oh I see, you're using it metaphorically.

NP: What?

SH: The dark horse.

PM: He wasn't, he wasn't dressed as a horse.

SH: He wasn't dressed as a horse.

MB: A horse doing an Irish accent.

NP: Right. Marcus it's your turn to begin.

MB: Right.

NP: The subject now is camouflage. Can you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

MB: The idea of camouflage is to wear something that will blend you in effectively with your background. A lot of demutiting like to wear these sorts of clothes when they're walking into a Weatherspoons. I can always see them so I make sure I attack them as if I were in the Army...


NP: Josie challenged.

JL: Sorry, two thems, quite close together.

NP: Oh yeah.

MB: Oh yes.

NP: Tough challenge but correct.

JL: Yeah.

MB: No, fair enough.

NP: Josie you have a correct challenge, you have 45 seconds, camouflage starting now.

JL: Sometimes when the Territorial Army go for a picnic in the woods, all you can see is the gingham tablecloth and a plate of cheese sandwiches. That's because they are wearing camouflage. Tommy always has a little stripe of brown soil on either cheek. You can't see him when he stands next to a tree. And then there's Lucy who prefers the green goo, and lies down on the lawn pretending she's blades of grass. She's not in the Territorial Army which I've just said...


NP: Marcus you challenged.

MB: Repetition of Territorial Army.

NP: Yeah the Territorial Army came up too soon. So Marcus you have a correct challenge, 13 seconds are still available, camouflage starting now.

MB: The chameleon is an expert at camouflage, able to blend in with any background. As I tested in a pet shop very recently, taking in some incredibly colourful jumpers. Gyles Brandreth didn't mind standing near...


NP: Marcus Brigstocke was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And he's moved forward, he's equal with Josie Lawrence in second place, and they're two points behind our leaders, Paul Merton and Sheila Hancock. Sheila, it's your turn to begin, fiscal cliff. I don't know why they're laughing, but it's something that's in the newspapers quite a lot these days. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

SH: Fiscal cliff is situated somewhere in the Outer Hebrides. It's named after Fiscal MacDonald who's a close relative to Fingle, who is the caveman. He was a soldier in the First World War and wrote poetry along with Siegfried Sassoon. And they decided he was such a splendid bloke that they would name the cliff that he... jumped on...


NP: Well done! You kept going for 31 seconds. There are 31 seconds available, 29 seconds aren't there. So Paul you challenged, I'd better...

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Yes that's right. Fiscal cliff is with you, 31 seconds starting now.

PM: It seems to be a fiscal cliff in some countries, other territories seem to resemble a slight...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: Hesitation.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Yeah. Fiscal cliff is back with you Sheila, which is exactly what you wanted isn't it. And there are 26 seconds available starting now.

SH: As I understand it, which is only very slightly, it's something to do with the difference between the amount which you can take in taxation, in comparison with the revenue and the outgoings. Osama is very... not...


SH: No, Obama!

NP: So Marcus has challenged.

MB: Yeah deviation. But it's the same deviation the tea party make all the time! So I think we should probably forgive it!

NP: Well no, but it was a correct challenge. So Marcus you have a point.

SH: Oh dear oh dear.

NP: And you have 10 seconds on fiscal cliff starting now.

MB: The brinksmanship that exists between the Republicans and the Democrats in the United States is truly astonishing to the rest of us, since we care so little about the tiny difference between the two of them. They're all nuts over there! They drove as fast...


NP: Marcus Brigstocke speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's leapt forward, he's in second place now, one point behind our joint leaders, Sheila Hancock and Paul Merton. And as people sometimes write to me because they get the whole premise of the show wrong. They say you didn't pull up Marcus when he repeated difference. You did repeat it, it doesn't matter, no-one challenged you.

MB: Did I?

NP: Yes they didn't spot it.

MB: Right.

NP: But a listener might spot it and then they write to me and say why didn't you penalise him?

MB: Well if they buzz in by post, i think it is a bit late!

NP: It's too late Marcus, you're there, they're all very close, it's very exciting. And Paul it's your turn to begin. The last time I went to France. A lovely subject, tell us something about it in this game starting now.

PM: The last time I went to France, I was filming in the Champagne region. And there were various champagnes throughout France...


NP: Oh.

SH: Oh dear! No, one singular and one's plural.

JL: Yeah.

NP: That's right.

PM: Yeah.

NP: He's played the game quite a lot. So Paul, an incorrect challenge, you still have 54 seconds, the last time I went to France starting now

PM: And I met this man called Pierre who had built this magnificent giant roller skate which he placed his body on, in order to go hurtling down hills up to approximate speeds of about 50...


SH: Oh no! That was a mistake! I'm sorry, I've got a sort of St Vitus Dance!

NP: Well you're sitting in the seat that Clement Freud used to sit in.

SH: Ah!

NP: And I imagine that was a Freudian slip.

SH: That accounts for it.

NP: So Sheila we'll be generous and won't charge anything on that and say Paul, there are still 45 seconds for you to tell us something about the last time I went to France starting now.

PM: He thought this would make his fortune. But unfortunately he was the only individual who could actually drive the thing. And it was exceedingly dangerous. You can't imagine any health and safety culture allowing some invention that's approximately four inches off the ground hurtling down Mount...


NP: Josie challenged.

JL: Hurtling twice.

NP: Yes.

PM: Yes.

NP: We had a bit of hurtling, too much hurtling there. And you can't have too much hurtling in this show, can we? Thirty-one seconds are still available Josie, tell us something about the last time I went to France.

JL: Ah the last time I went to France, I went to Gay Paris. I was doing something for a morning television programme. They wanted me to interview the girls at the Moulin Rouge. And the star at the time, whose name I won't mention just in case, a tiny American lady, surrounded by bodyguards, I bought her English tea and biscuits, but still it was quite scarey to be in the company of her and these strange gentlemen. At the end of the show I was taken outside...


NP: Right so Josie Lawrence was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And there's only one point that separates them all in ascending order. Third place Marcus and Josie, and then Sheila Hancock and then Paul Merton. Oh I've just been told it's the final round.


NP: Oh what a lovely audience you are! And Josie it's your turn to begin and the subject is vegetarian food. Tell us something about vegetarian food in Just A Minute starting now.

JL: I'm a carnivore, but I do enjoy a plate, every now and then, of vegetarian food. Real vegetarians however refuse to eat any kind of animal flesh. And vegans don't like eating leather shoes, apparently...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Was there a repetition of eating?

NP: Yes, 46 seconds Paul, another point to you, and the subject of vegetarian food starting now.

PM: In China they don't really get the concept of vegetarian food. the idea that somebody wouldn't eat meat, to them is extraordinary anathema. It's absolutely mad...


NP: Sheila challenged.

SH: Hesitation.

NP: Yes I call that hesitation. Yes Sheila, so we are going to hear from you all on this subject, 37 seconds still available, vegetarian food Sheila starting now.

SH: Many years ago I was ill, and a doctor put me on a food diet...


NP: Marcus challenged.

MB: Ah hesitation.

NP: Yes hesitation.

SH: It wasn't a big hesitation.

NP: We have heard from everybody on this one, 31 seconds Marcus, available still, vegetarian food starting now.

MB: Vegetarian food is absolutely delicious unless you've ever tasted meat which is far nicer. A lot of vegetarians haven't yet learned this but they will, once the lentils and pulses and chickpeas and beans run out and become the gooey paste that they inevitably do in your mouth. That said, I did attempt to be vegetarian for a while, until the wind got the better of me and my family and we all had to move into a tent which very swiftly blew away. Not entirely my fault, I have to say, there was a stiff breeze...


NP: Right, Josie Lawrence who started off in incredible style, but she finished up in, well it was third place. But she was only one point behind our second placed two, Sheila Hancock and Marcus Brigstocke. But they were only one point behind Paul Merton so we say Paul, you are the winner this week. We do hope you have 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, Sheila Hancock, Josie Lawrence and Marcus Brigstocke. I also thank Sharon Leonard, who has helped me with the score, blown her whistle so well. We are indebted to our producer, Tilusha Ghelani. And we are deeply indebted to Ian Messiter who thought of this amazing game. And of course we are indebted to this lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre for cheering us on our way. From the audience, from the team, from me Nicholas Parsons, thank you. Tune in the next time we all play Just A Minute!