NOTE: Jason Manford's first radio appearance.

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 programme four dynamic and talented players who are going to play Just A Minute. I'm going to ask them to speak on the subject I give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And they are, seated on my right Paul Merton and Jason Manford. And seated on my left, Graham Norton and Sue Perkins. Please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Sharon Leonard, who is going to help me with the score, she will blow a whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the Radio Theatre in the heart of Broadcasting House and we have a wonderfully warm, hyped up audience just eager to get us going. So we'll begin the show this week with Paul Merton. Paul, a lovely subject, funny valentine. Will you tell us something about that subject in this game, starting now.

PAUL MERTON: It's a very popular song written by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart in the 1930s for a show, I think, called Babes In Arms, although musicals aren't my specialist subject. And I think my favourite version is by Ella Fitzgerald. She has this most wonderful voice that I could listen to forever. I could tire of the operatic voice much quicker than I could ever...


PM: Oh yes.

NP: Sue challenged.

SUE PERKINS: Repetition of voice.

PM: Yes.

NP: Yes, there was too much voice there yes.


NP: That's very charming of you audience, but you needn't clap every correct challenge.

GRAHAM NORTON: That had a whiff of Wimbledon about it, that !

PM: Good shot!

GN: Yeah very good.

NP: And all the ball boys are running on now.

PM: Come on Sue!

NP: So Sue, a correct challenge, you get a point for that of course, you take over the subject and there are 39 seconds available starting now.

SP: Roses are red, violets are blue, you show a customary disregard for classical verse formation, so I'm dumping you Sue. That was one valentines we had one year. For me, it's never a funny time of year. Well February the 14th...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of year.

NP: Yes!

SP: Yes!

NP: That's right. Well listened, Paul.

PM: What? No clap?

NP: Correct challenge and you've got the subject back and there are 25 seconds still available, funny valentine starting now.

PM: Your looks are laughable, unphotographable, you're my favourite work of art. Those words composed by the afore-mentioned gentleman lined with the other bloke's music...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of music.

NP: Yes.

PM: Yes I think so, yeah.

NP: Music of course, yes. So well listened, the two of you, you're bouncing off each other beautifully. And Sue you've got another correct challenge, another point to you, 12 seconds, funny valentine starting now.

SP: Valentines are never funny. Forty...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: I'm an idiot! I take it back! I was going to say repetition of funny, but of course, funny valentine is on the thing.

NP: That's right, yes, you can repeat the word...

GN: I know that Nicholas!

NP: We have to remind the listeners why I made that decision.

GN: And me as well.

NP: And you. No, I don't need to remind you, you know, you just repeated it...

GN: I'm an idiot, I know.

NP: It's been quite clear now.

GN: Yes! Yes! I understand!

NP: Who challenged? It was an incorrect challenge, wasn't it?

GN: Yes I know that!

SP: Nicholas, why was it an incorrect challenge?

GN: We all know that too!

NP: Sue you were speaking, you have 10 seconds still on funny valentine starting now.

SP: In the middle of that dreadful month, you get loved up men and women, sitting at restaurants, stuffing themselves witless, exchanging padded cards with huge hearts on them, flowers aplenty...


NP: In the game, whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. It was Sue Perkins and you can imagine she is in a strong lead at the end of the first round. Right, Jason Manford, we are going to ask you to take the next round. You're new to the game and they've given you a ridiculously difficult subject to start off with, nuclear energy.

SP: Welcome to the fold Jason!

NP: I'm sure it's your pet subject and they've chosen it for you. Jason can you try and talk on nuclear energy for 60 seconds if you can, starting now.

JASON MANFORD: What I don't know about nuclear energy isn't worth knowing. I presume a producer obviously must have read up on Wikipedia that I'm an expert at it. Ah...


PM: I don't think they did! Unfortunately it was a hesitation.

NP: It was. Paul a correct challenge to you.

PM: Yes.

NP: You take over nuclear energy and you've got 50 seconds starting now.

PM: Nuclear energy is actually a very easy concept to understand. You have two particular parts, nuclear and energy and you put them together and that's what you have. Look at the sun, it is burning nuclear energy the whole time, naturally, that big red orb is sending all kinds of heat down towards us, and I believe nuclear energy was first discovered in the late 1940s by a man living in Basingstoke who was taking his dog for a walk one night. Little Sparky, his name was, he was a chipper little devil. And he saw a badger in the middle of the woods and he started chasing it. And that's how nuclear energy was formed. Many years later as we look back now, a hundred years ago, we think...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of years.

NP: Yes.

PM: Oh yes.

NP: I think you could have had him for a little deviation as well.

SP: I believed every word of that!

NP: No we let it go because we love it. Sue a correct challenge, another point to you, eight seconds are still available, tell us something about nuclear energy starting now.

SP: I like to explain the principle of nuclear fusion by using the example of One Direction, the famed boy band. There you've got Harry Styles, like an individual nucleus, waiting to join Liam...


NP: So Sue Perkins was again speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, has increased her lead at the end of the round. So they're all equal in the lead now, two, two, two, Lisa, Graham and Paul. Graham Norton will you begin the next round, oh the subject, karaoke. I don't know if it's something of a favourite of yours, but will you talk on the subject, 60 seconds starting now.

GN: I understand the impulse within people who want to sing. Good luck to you. But why would anyone want to be in a bar and listen to that! That is the part of karaoke I fail to comprehend, ladies and gentlemen. I believe they should be shut down. As I speak, I have a campaign ongoing to remove all karaoke establishments from the high street, for there are many. I pass several each day. Do they still exist? I'm not sure. Karaoke was invented in Japan where businessmen like to perform songs to each other. I guess it's a way to let their hair down. I say, oh, I can't say that again...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: Bit of hesitation I'm afraid.

NP: There was a definite hesitation. You went for 50 seconds! That's the irony of this game, another two seconds you would have had two points.

GN: Can I just say, at that point it felt longer than The Hobbit!

PM: Nothing's longer than The Hobbit!

NP: Paul, a correct challenge so you get a point, you take over the subject, karaoke, 10 seconds starting now.

PM: Iiiiiiaaaaggggghhhh...


NP: Jason challenged.

JM: I think there was hesitation, I thought.

PM: Definitely! Definitely!

NP: I think we'll interpret it as hesitation. Right so Jason you've got in with eight and a half seconds on karaoke starting now.

NP: So Paul that was a correct challenge, well listened, taking your driving test is with you, 33 seconds starting now.

JM: I am a fan of karaoke. I sing quite often. I like a Tom Jones number or a Diana Ross, maybe a Tony Bennett. Occasionally a Michael Buble or maybe the Jackson Five...


NP: So Jason Manford was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And he's now leapt forward, he's in third place. He was before actually, but he's still in third place, just behind Paul, and they're just behind Sue, and Graham, he is just behind them. Sue Perkins it is your turn to begin. And the subject now, oh a lovely one, the cheeses of France. Tell us something about all those lovely cheeses in 60 seconds if you can starting now.

SP: The smell of a classic French cheese is something between Satan's underpants and John McCrirrick. Usually say with a (unintelligible) you've got a wheel that looks ostensibly like a youth hostel duvet. But poke underneath and you get the most unctuous goo which will lend a good 40 or 50 inches to the average waistline at Christmas. I know, I have the of physique a pigeon, thankfully it's masked by this table. I love a good French cheese like a (unintelligible) but it does stay with you and stick to the throat. You can resemble a dairy Dalek which is when you've eaten too much of the said cheese. (dalek voice) You talk like this. (normal voice) As it clogs up your major arteries. Who cares when it's so delicious. Never put it in your fridge. When you open it, it is simply the most repulsive odour you could ever ever wish...


NP: Oh one of the flaws of Just A Minute! And you went for 49 seconds!

GN: Oh I went for 50!

NP: I'm sorry you went for 54 seconds. Yes!

GN: That is impressive!

NP: I got my arithmetic wrong for a moment, there are six seconds left, right. So bad luck, but Paul, your challenge.

PM: It was repetition of ever, ever ever..

NP: Yes ever ever, right, so you can't let one of those go, can you. Six seconds, tell us something about the cheeses of France Paul, in six seconds starting now.

PM: When I think about the cheeses of France, undoubtedly for me the King of them all is (unintelligible). It means...


NP: So Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now equal with Sue Perkins in the lead and then they're followed by Jason Manford and Graham Norton in that order. And Paul we're back with you to begin and the subject now is power struggles. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PM: I was recalling the 1970s the other day when during industrial action we had power cuts that would hit London and various other cities in this great country of ours. And it seems implausible now that people would put up with repeated loss of their electricity. You would look at the local paper, the Evening Standard particularly, and see whether between six o'clock in the evening and nine oh... ohhhh!


NP: Sue you challenged.

SP: Repetition of o'clock.

PM: Yes the oh bit, yes.

NP: You anticipated the repetition but you got in on the other subject and you've got 37 seconds still available, power struggles starting now.

SP: Just A Minute is one of the eternal power struggles. Us mere panellists vying for supremacy, but Nicholas overseeing it like the Lord of Misrule. Ultimately he controls the show, it's Machiavellian but you'd never know because he dresses like very much the urban dandy. He operates his own strings, there is no puppet master, he rules supreme and we know it. Afterwards when we are getting into the giant jacuzzi together we often look upon him as a father figure. He's gentle then, less commandeering. But even so as we play this incredible game, we're aware that the nuances and dynamics shift with every turn.


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Repetition of dynamics.

NP: Yes it is, well done, well listened. And Graham you've got in with four seconds...

GN: Is it true? Did she? I know I've heard the word before.

NP: And you've got in with four seconds to go.

GN: Good.

NP: Yes excellent, four seconds, power struggles Graham starting now.

GN: Power struggles in the workplace are awful...


PM: Well it was hesitation.

GN: No it wasn't! We all knew there was another word coming.

PM: Yes we did, it said on the indicator board, in two minutes time. I was checking.

NP: I think you may be correct Paul, but I think he was pausing for effect.

PM: Yes he was, the effect was he wasn't talking!

NP: I want to be generous here and give the benefit of the doubt because he hasn't scored yet on this show. And he's so good, we want to love to have him here!

PM: Absolutely!

NP: I'll leave it to the audience. Do I give it to Graham or Paul?


NP: Right Graham you have an incorrect challenge, you've got one, one second left.

SP: Speak in it!

NP: Don't overact it! Power struggles starting now.

GN: Power struggles drive...


NP: So at the end of that round Graham Norton was speaking as the whistle went. He has leapt forward, he's equal in third place with Jason and the other two are out in the lead there. Jason it's your turn to begin again, oh, the subject is my old man. Will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

JM: My Dad is approaching 60 years old which is the age when you stop caring what people think. And we often go on holiday together, we went to Spain last year, where during the flight, the tannoy announcement came over, said "ladies and gentlemen we will not be serving peanuts on board, because there's somebody here, a passenger, who has an allergy, and if it gets into the air conditioning they will be severely ill". Half an hour into the journey, I turned to my Pa and he's eating (makes chewing noise)


NP: Oh it's a wicked game, isn't it. Paul you challenged.

JM: Are you going to do me for repetition for that, because they were all different sounds. The first one was (click) the second one was (chew).

NP: It sounded exactly as if it was complete repetition.

SP: It's a harsh, unloving mistress, this game!

NP: The benefit of the doubt went against you last time Paul, so you have it this time defenitely. And you have 30 seconds on my old man starting now.

PM: Ian Drury wrote a beautiful song called My Old Man. And when I think back to my father now, who is living in Ireland, they still listen to this show via the Internet. I'm lieing, they'd have no idea what that is. But I think that I, in the end, have looked like my father as I get older, in a strange way he's begun to resemble me. It's peculiar, it's DNA I suppose, family genes being passed from one generation to another...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Repetition of family.

NP: Yes.

PM: Good, it was so boring!

NP: And Graham you got in with seven seconds to go on my old man starting now.

GN: I think I may get a new old man. The one I've had has been about seven years, he's been...


NP: Right so...

JM: Nicholas I've just googled (chewing noise) and it's actually all one word.

NP: I have to say I don't believe you. And where did you google while we were...

JM: It's my inner google.

NP: Right sorry Jason, I'd love to help you but I'll maybe find a moment later on.

GN: Sorry Nicholas, can I just apologise to the listeners, I am covered in...

SP: In dog hair.

GN: In dog hair. I'm like, I'm like...

PM: Do you have a dog?

GN: No I do... this looks like...

SP: There's half a bearded collie on that sleeve alone.

GN: I'm like some crazy old dog trainer that shows up...


JM: Repetition of dog. I know how to play this game now.

NP: Give Jason a bonus point.

JM: I'll take it! I'll take it!

NP: And Graham it's your turn to begin. The subject after that last round, I think, is a rather apt one. It's desperation. Tell us something about desperation in Just A Minute starting now.

GN: Ladies and gentlemen, look at this face. It is desperation personified. I'd love to win Just A Minute once. I have played it over the years many times and yet have never passed the post in first place. Occasionally...


NP: Jason you've challenged.

JM: Yeah I challenged um. There was, there was...

NP: He has won. He has won.

GN: Have I?

NP: Yes.

JM: Deviation yeah.

GN: Have I really?

JM: Yeah yeah.

SP: Many times.

GN: Really?

NP: You have won.

GN: It meant nothing to me.

PM: Well it should have done.

NP: Well spotted Jason.

JM: I was only listening to that particular show the other day!

NP: You must have heard that recording, yeah. So a correct challenge Jason, very quick there.

SP: You're a mine of information.

JM: Yeah.

NP: And 44 seconds available still, desperation starting now.

JM: It's quite an apt word, desperation. Now I'm doing a subject I have no idea about. I'm not really desperate for anything in particular other than the usual things of air, and food and water and occasional love from family and children. My children are... bollocks!


SP: That was family and children. Never the twain shall meet.

NP: Paul.

PM: Repetition.

NP: Yeah repetition right. Correct challenge, 27 seconds are still available, talk to us about desperation starting now.

PM: One of the most desperate characters in history is the comic-book person by that very same name with Dan coming at the end of it. I never understood why he should be a picture of desperation. He was a huge figure eating cow pies and bending railway tracks across his barrel-like chest for no reason whatsoever as far as I could tell. But I think understanding his mental condition...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Repetition of understand.

NP: Yes.

PM: Yes.

GN: Is that true?

PM: No.

GN: I'm constantly surprised that I...

NP: And Graham you've cleverly got in with two seconds to go on desperation starting now.

GN: Desperation is also used in a song title which I will now...


NP: Graham Norton was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And really has leapt forward, he's equal with Sue in second place, one point behind Paul, and two or three in front of Jason Manford. And Sue it's your turn to begin and the subject is the story of Noah's Ark. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

SP: One day the Lord was well sad with his flock and decided to bring upon them not a plague or locusts or any such thing. But a flood. However there was one righteous man called Noah, so he said to him, he said, go on, do the voice (deep voice) go build an Ark. (normal voice) That was an approximation. It was probably deeper, he had a massive beard. He was basically Brian Blessed but omniscient. Imagine the potency of that, ladies and gentlemen. The specific instructions were incredible. He had to build the boat of certain length and diameter to house breeding pairs of every known animal on the land. Biblical scholars estimate that's around 45 thousand creatures. Imagine clearing up that dung...


NP: Graham challenged.

GN: Two things. One, I'm sure I've heard this story before. And secondly, repetition of imagine.

NP: Yes right, imagine, well listened Graham, and there are 19 seconds for you to talk about the story of Noah's Ark starting now.

GN: Given that one of the rules of this game is that you can have no repetition, it seems a particularly cruel tale to ask us to re-tell, given that every single animal appears twice. That proves very hard when recounting this fable, from the Bible, a book you know, oh I don't have to reveal that...


NP: Well Graham Norton was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point once again. And he's leapt forward and he's now in the lead. There we are! And Paul it's your turn to begin, getting your five a day. Tell us something about that particular saying in this show starting now.

PM: I used to get five a day when I was younger but I could barely walk. These days it means about five minutes of exercise on my stationary bicycle which is a wonderful machine because you get the heart pumping for the allotted time that I mentioned. And it seems to me that once you've raised your metabolism the weight starts to drop off, provided you also have a proper diet. Five a day. If we think about the Marx Brothers, there is only four of them. Actually there was more but two of them didn't go into the business. There was Saddo who never got a laugh in his entire life...


NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Possible deviation?

NP: I think it is, because five a day refers to food, the intake that goes into your stomach, doesn't it.

PM: Yeah.

NP: And the Marx Brothers went to your mental state, to entertain you and amuse you.

SP: I'm never going to disagree with you.

NP: Because you want the subject and you've got it. And you've got 26 seconds starting now.

SP: Five a day is supposed to be good for you, fruit and vegetables, the rainbow basket, I don't want it. I like beige food because that means it's carbohydrates. Give me a scone, bun, tart, cake, bread, nice stuff. I don't want (unintelligible) particularly when they are air-freighted from Kenya...


NP: Jason challenged.

JM: Was there a repetition of don't want.

NP: Yes there was yes.

SP: I was being very emphatic.

NP: Well listened Jason, well listened. The virgin of the team and there you are.

PM: The night is still young, isn't it Nicholas! Always with the newcomers up on the roof at night. It interferes with the shipping forecast on longwave!

NP: So Jason you've cleverly got in with nine seconds to go on the subject of getting your five a day and you start now.

JM: Since the New Year started, I do like to get my five a day, generally with fruit. I also like to include things like jaffa cakes...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: There was a repetition of like.

NP: Yeah I do like to get my five a day, I do like.

PM: A bit harsh! A bit harsh! But they were quite close together.

NP: And Paul you cleverly got in with two seconds to go on getting your five a day starting now.

PM: Broccoli, pears, apples...


NP: So right, we are moving into the final round, I've been told.

GN: What? I haven't finished my wine!

NP: Let me give you the score as we go into the final round. Jason who has not played the game before with us...

JM: Or again!

NP: ... is trailing a little. But he's in a very strong fourth position. He's only two points behind Sue Perkins and she is a great exponent of the game. And she is only one point behind Graham Norton who says he never wins but he has won more than once. And he's only one point behind Paul Merton. So it's all to play for if you are interested in the points and not the quality of the show. Right... Jason...

GN: Don't pick at that thread!

NP: Jason it's your turn to begin and it's a lovely subject, showing off. All what we have to do in our profession but talk about it, 60 seconds starting now.

JM: Well it's a very odd thing, showing off. People see it as a negative in this country whereas if you were in America, they see it as a positive. It's in their constitution under the freedom of speech, you have to do it. And I think in this country, what we should do is all show off, all brag, all have a go at anything you want to have a go at. Because you look at the Olympics. Would we have been as successful at the Olympics if we had told children...


JM: Ohhhh!

NP: Sue challenged.

SP: Repetition of Olympics.

JM: But it was on loads. Do you know what I mean?

SP: To be fair, it was, really.

NP: They let a few other things go Jason, but it was quite right, you did repeat Olympics. So Sue you got in with 40 seconds to go on showing off starting now.

SP: A friend of mine once said to me I like to back into the limelight. Which essentially means I'll choose when I show off. I can be a peahen, dowdy, not interested until somebody gets me on a stage, and then the gloves are off. Literally sometimes if I'm doing a burlesque show. Don't want to see that, not at my age! Sadly the midriff has come to the point where leather goods won't really fit around it. However in the right moment when I am feeling good, I like to explode in front of people, the best side of myself perhaps, although it's hard to live with if you are a partner of mine. This job is fraught. There are two sides to us, I imagine. One likes to sit home and read books, the other likes to fuse in public...


NP: Jason challenged.

JM: Ah hesitation.

NP: There was a hesitation yes.

SP: Stop me!

NP: You're stopped.

SP: Good.

NP: Right. You were showing off brilliantly but you did pause at one point.

SP: Good.

NP: Jason's picked it up and he's got in with four seconds to go, showing off starting now.

JM: I suppose I am a professional show off in all respects. Most comedians are and people often...


NP: Ah so Jason Manford was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And he has leapt forward, he's still in fourth place. but it is a brilliant fourth place, it really is. Because I mean this is so fair, he is only one point behind equal in third place, Graham Norton and Sue Perkins. And they're only one point behind Paul Merton and we say Paul you are the winner this week! So it only remains for me to say thank you to these four fine players of the game, Paul Merton, Jason Manford, Sue Perkins and Graham Norton. I thank Sharon Leonard, who has helped me with the score, and blown her whistle so delicately on the 60 seconds moment. And we thank our audience here in the Radio Theatre. We are grateful to our producer Tilusha Ghelani. We are indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And it's lovely to be with this audience here. Tune in again the next time we play Just A Minute! Until then from all of us here including me, Nicholas Parsons, good-bye!