NOTE: Stephen Mangan's first radio appearance.

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Thank you, thank you. Oh thank you, you're marvellous! 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 from around the world. And also to welcome to the programme four exciting, talented performers. And they are seated on my right, Paul Merton and Alun Cochrane. And seated on my left, Gyles Brandreth and Stephen Mangan. Will you please welcome all four of them! Beside me sits Sharon Leonard, she is going to help me with the score, and she will blow a whistle when the 60 seconds have elapsed. As usual I am going to ask them to speak on a subject that I give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And this particular show is coming from the Radio Theatre in the heart of Broadcasting House. Very solemn moment! And we are all tense, ready to go! And we're going to ask Paul Merton to begin the show. And the subject here, a lovely one to begin with, Treasure Island. Paul tell us something about Treasure Island in this game starting now.

PAUL MERTON: One of the few novels to be written by three men, Robert, Louis and Stevenson. It was a book that came out towards the end of the 19th century and I remember studying it for English at school. The characters are hugely drawn in my imaginative memory. I remember Long John...


NP: Gyles has challenged.

GYLES BRANDRETH: Repetition of remember.

PM: Remember and memory.

ALUN COCHRANE: Yeah they are two different words.

GB: No, no, we had remember twice.

PM: Oh did we? I'm sorry.

NP: I think we did, yes, I remember. So Gyles that was a correct challenge, there are still 43 seconds available, and the subject is Treasure Island and you begin now.

GB: When this book first appeared it was serialised in a publication called Little Folks under the author Captain George North who was indeed this triple named figure who Paul has already mentioned to us. I was introduced to the book when I was a child going to the Mermaid Theatre and seeing that great actor Sir Bernard Miles, playing the cook, Long John Silver. He also had a...


NP: Alun you challenged.

AC: Ah it's sort of a deviation thing really, because I can't believe Gyles was ever a child!

PM: Do you think he was created in a laboratory? In a petrie dish?

AC: You know, you meet some people who you just think they've always been adults? You're one of those.

NP: Alun you know I enjoyed that interruption so much.

AC: Oh good!

NP: I'm going to give you a bonus point for that.

AC: I'll have that, yeah.

NP: Right, but unfortunately Gyles was interrupted and he was a child once. And I'm sure he did things that...

PM: Prove it!

NP: Well he's trying to at the moment because he said that he read this wonderful novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Anyway Gyles you have a point because you were interrupted, you keep the subject, 19 seconds still available, Treasure Island starting now.

GB: It is the most remarkable of stories and the characters within it are quite extraindinary when you are with them...


PM: He made up a word, Mister! Mister, he made up a word!

NP: I know he did.

PM: Didn't he Mister.

GB: My problem is I missed out on childhood!

PM: Yes!

NP: He tried to get around repeating extraordinary and he did that but I agree with you Paul, you have a correct challenge and there are 14 seconds still available, you tell us more about Treasure Island starting now.

PM: Ben Gunn was a part played by Spike Milligan in the Mermaid production of this book, Treasure Island. And I was greatly...


NP: Stephen challenged.

STEPHEN MANGAN: Was that a hesitation.

NP: It was almost hesitation.

SM: Almost! It was, yeah. Yeah, was it?

PM: It sets a precedent!

SM: I know!

PM: Be careful!

SM: I have a very sinking feeling in my soul!

NP: Stephen I think as you have never played the game before, and the audience obviously want to hear from you on this subject, I will be generous and I think Paul will be generous and say yes, that was a correct challenge. And say that you, six seconds available, Treasure Island starting now.

SM: As a 12 year old I discovered that my school was putting on a production of Treasure Island and I knew what I had to do with the help of Mister Smalls...


NP: In this game whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. And at the end of that round, I think they've all got a point each. No, Stephen's got two points. Alun will you take the next round. The subject is city break, 60 seconds starting now.

AC: The city break is a wonderful thing. I have enjoyed many over the years, including one, especially memorable one, where I took my wife to Prague and took her up the Funicular. It was a lovely time...


AC: It's a train journey, grow up, Radio Four! It was a delightful time...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: I don't think anyone's ever told Radio Four to grow up!

NP: So what's the challenge within the rules of Just A Minute?

PM: None really, I just wanted to point out a unique event.

NP: All right, well I gave Alun a bonus point a while ago, you get a bonus point there. He did repeat three things.

GB: Yeah several.

NP: Three things, nobody challenged so you got away with it Alun and you've got 44 seconds still on city break starting now.

AC: An irony of the city break is that it's often taken by people who already live in a city. They seem to think this vision of urban decay around me here is not good enough. I'd like a different set of these crumbling buildings and museums and galleries that I do not visit. Why don't I go away to a small European city and enjoy that as a sort of, it might be...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: It was a very very slight hesitation.

NP: It was a definite hesitation.

PM: Yeah it was, wasn't it!

NP: Yours was a slight one and we were a bit harsh with you. But it doesn't matter Paul, you've got the subject now, there are 21 seconds, tell us something about city break starting now.

PM: Unlike Alun, I don't think most cities in the world are crumbling. Look at London, it's magnificent. Do you know, the audience here in the Broadcasting House at the B Broadcasting Corporation, they say to themselves...


PM: ... we live in this mighty metropolis! We are fantastic! Why should we go to Prague!

NP: Oh!

PM: Who's interrupted me now?

NP: Gyles, Gyles.

GB: It was Broadcasting House and then B Broadcasting Corporation, in order to avoid saying the B again.

PM: It was yeah.

NP: There were two Broadcastings right earlier on. It was quite a while ago too.

PM: It was yeah. I think it was the last series, wasn't it?

NP: Nine seconds you've got Gyles on city break starting now.

GB: The city break is a dance performed by teenage girls in English cities on Friday and Saturday nights. They appear late in the evening wearing their thongs, throwing it up over...


NP: So at the end of that round, Gyles Brandreth speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. And he's now got three, Paul's got three, Stephen has two, Alun has one. It's very exciting, isn't it! I'm glad you agree! Stephen will you begin the next round, the subject, Casanova. I don't know if you're an amorist or not. Tell us something about that character in this game starting now.

SM: Casanova was a world famous lover who lived in Venice in the 18th century if I'm not mistaken. He was described as being tall and dark with scented powdered elaborately curled hair. They could in fact be describing me! His last words were said to have been "I have lived..."


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: No, doesn't matter! No, I was silly!

NP: Well let's hear from it.

PM: No, well it was... no it's really not worth it.

SM: No, go ahead.

PM: No, Stephen said I'm like Casanova but he doesn't live in the 17th century. So I was going to say that was deviation. But then it seemed very mean and picky so I, you know, but that was my challenge basically.

GB: But he looks exactly like everybody's idea of Casanova.

NP: Absolutely!

PM: He looks nothing like Frank Finlay!

SM: This is elaborately scented hair!

GB: It is. It is glorious, it really is.

SM: Gyles is upstream of it.

NP: You were interrupted and the joy of being interrupted, you get a point and you get to gather your strength and your breath and you continue with the subject with 41 seconds to go starting now.

SM: His last words were supposed to have been "I have lived as a philosopher and died as a Christian". But perhaps they should have been "I have existed as a love machine and am expiring totally exhausted". Casanova is a word that possibly means new house in some language or other But I wouldn't know because I am terrible at speaking foreign tongues. He wrote a book called the story of my life which sounds like a song from a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. But was in fact the memoirs of this famous man who couldn't keep his trousers on! Way back when and ohhhhhhhhh!


GB: Can I say it wasn't hesitation. I suddenly realised it was a cry of ecstasy!

PM: It was close to orgasm, I'll give you that!

GB: It was, it was, it was Casanova absolutely being, so I interrupted merely to applaud! It wasn't...

SM: Thank you!

NP: Well you've done it with three seconds to go. Another three seconds you'd have had the...

GB: Oh my gosh almighty!

NP: What is your challenge Gyles?

GB: I'm afraid it was hesitation.

NP: It was hesitation, collapse, wasn't it.

GB: It sounded like, well yes, it sounded like something interruptus, but I think it was hesitation.

NP: Within the rules of Just A Minute we say that it was a correct challenge so Gyles you have the subject now with three seconds on Casanova, and you haven't won any friends in this audience, and you start now.

GB: Casasnova was the Silvio Berlusconi of his day...


NP: So Gyles getting that point when the whistle went, gained an extra point, and has moved forward. And Gyles it's also your turn to begin and the subject now is scrabbling around. I don't know if it is something that you do much, will you talk about it, 60 seconds starting now.

GB: I have been scrabbling around ever since I discovered the name that goes by the name of scrabble...


NP: Stephen challenged.

SM: Couple of names. A name that goes by the name.

GB: Oh very good!

NP: Stephen you're connecting very rapidly and you've got in there with 54 seconds to go on scrabbling around starting now.

SM: Scrabbling around is what my brain is doing at this very moment, wondering what to say about this subject. My dismal noggin, the solitary neurons firing across its cavernous space, and nothing is coming to mind! I have no clue what to do, how to speak, what to talk, oh help me Lord!


NP: Gyles you challenged.

GB: I sensed that Stephen was turning to the older man in his life. This is what happens at these crisis points when you don't know what to do. You just reach out and here I am, Stephen.

NP: So what's your challenge within the rules of Just A Minute?

GB: I'm just taking my fingers out of his hair!

SM: Please don't!

GB: That's sweet of you! Ah hesitation. He called, yes, he was slowing down, oh my lord, there was deviation leading into hesitation, it was an absolute, he was coming to a conclusion.

NP: No he didn't hesitate. He repeated something but it is too late now.


AC: Repetition!

NP: I said it's too late Alun.

AC: Oh!

NP: So it was an incorrect challenge and you still have 35 seconds to go scrabbling around if you can starting now.

SM: On Thursdays I like to get a lorry-load of gravel, have it poured on to my front lawn and scrabble about in my underwear. You should try it, honestly it's much better than it sounds. Except when you get bits of that stoney substance wedged in your...


NP: Alun challenged.

PM: Slight slight hesitation.

NP: I think there was a slight hesitation.

PM: Yes.

NP: He was sort of scrabbling to a halt, wasn't he really.

SM: It was very exciting.

NP: Paul, correct challenge, I give you the benefit of the doubt there, 21 seconds available, scrabbling around starting now.

PM: If you're looking to plant your tulips for next spring, the best thing to do is get your fingers into the soil and start scrabbling around. If, like me, you live on a volcano, this is not as easy as you might think. But the dedicated gardener can always scrabble around to find what he needs in order to nurture them young plants, greens...


NP: So Paul Merton was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He's now in second place, one point behind Gyles. He is equal with Stephen Mangan. Alun is trailing just a little. Paul...

PM: Yes?

NP: It's your turn to begin.

PM: Oh good.

NP: And the subject is short term memory. Very apt for this game and your time starts now.

PM: Sorry, is it my go? Short term memory is something, we have all kinds of memory. We have short, long, perhaps even medium exists there somewhere. As we get older, it is easier to remember what happens to us when we were younger rather than what happened... oh no!


NP: Gyles you challenged.

GB: Self confessed hesitation.

PM: Yes.

NP: It doesn't matter whether it was self confessed or not, it was, and 47 seconds are still available Gyles for short term memory starting now.

GB: As those of you who have a long term memory will recall, I was a Member of Parliament, until the people spoke, the bastards. And the worse thing about being a MP is that you encounter all sorts of strangers who call themselves constituents. These are ghastly people who feel they have some sort of claim on you and they always challenge you...


NP: Alun challenged.

PM: Nice to hear democracy in action but ah... we had two people.

NP: Yeah we had the people.

GB: Ah! The people spoke.

PM: Ghastly people, I think, was the other phrase. Or voters as we call them!

NP: So I think it was good you interrupted him before he dug himself a deeper grave. There's 27 seconds still available Paul, short term memory starting now.

PM: I can recall the early days of my childhood. I was three years old. I stuck my little finger in that corner bit of the door and that thing of wood slammed against it and I could feel the pain. But now I can also bring to my mind what happened last Thursday. So I am reasonably confident that my short term memory is as good as the version that I mentioned earlier which expanded and stretched further than short would suggest...


NP: So Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, he's now equal with Gyles Brandreth in the lead and then Stephen Mangan and then Alun Cochrane. And Alun we'd like you to begin the next round, the subject is my mate Dan. My mate Dan, that's what is here so talk about my mate Dan starting now.

AC: My mate Dan said "follow the van and don't dilly-dally on the way". Off went the vehicle and with it, that little rhyme. Erm, I have a friend called Dan. He's a lovely man by dint of the fact that he is imaginary. Ah he doesn't annoy me...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: We had er.

NP: A definite er there yes.

AC: It's a definite give-away, isn't it, of a hesitation.

PM: Yes.

NP: So 44 seconds still available Paul, can you tell us something about my mate Dan starting now.

PM: My mate Dan is a lovely geezer. He's got a lock-up round the back and anything you want, hosepipes, water buffalo, anything you want, he's got the lot. I'll tell you something, my mate Dan, he's an absolute diamond. Oh!


PM: Why do I talk so quickly! I was going to say diamond again, so I stopped.

NP: Yes you started on something which you couldn't continue. Gyles, correct challenge, I know what it is, what is it?

GB: It was hesitation.

PM: Yeah.

NP: Yes, 35 seconds available, my mate Dan starting now.

GB: I as a child had Desperate Dan in the Dandy...


NP: Alun challenged.

AC: I dispute that Gyles was a child.

PM: I'm not sure he's an adult either!

NP: Alun we enjoyed your interruption. I mean, obviously he was a child once and he even had childish ways I'm sure, we don't know. But we give you a bonus point because we enjoyed the interruption. Gyles was interrupted so he has the subject and there are 33 seconds on my mate Dan starting now.

GB: (sings) On Mother Kelly's doorstep down Paradise Road (normal voice) is the song I was introduced to be the great Danny La Rue. Known as Patrick Carroll when he was a young man In Ireland. But he came over to these shores and became one of the most wonderful female impersonators. He was my mate Dan and to see him in frocks would excite the propensities of Stephen sitting next to me. Because this was a man who could throw a party...


NP: Stephen challenged.

SM: Two mans.

NP: There were two man.

GB: Oh yes.

NP: You talked about this man...

GB: You can't get enough!

NP: And Stephen's cleverly got in with four seconds to go. And the subject is, Stephen another point and you've got my mate Dan starting now.

SM: When I played Dan Moody in I'm Alan Partridge, Steve Coogan stood in a car park...


NP: Right so Paul Merton and Gyles Brandreth are battling it out in the lead, both equal there. Stephen's now only one point behind. And Stephen we'd like you to begin the next round. And as a serious thespian on occasions would you tell us something now about the Globe Theatre, 60 seconds starting now.

SM: The Globe Theatre as it currently stands is a magnificent recreation of the Elizabethan place of the same name, a reconstruction ruined only by the occasional overhead helicopter or someone's mobile phone going off during the middle of Hamlet. I've once been on the stage and it's summed up the experience in one word, drafty. The wind whistles over the top of the roof, down across the heads of the groundlings, right into the actor's face and...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Deviation.

NP: Why?

PM: Well the wind doesn't hit you like that. I've played the Globe many times and the wind does not come over the roof, over the head of the ground and hit you in the face.

SM: I'm much taller than you are Paul.

PM: I've played there for 12 years!

NP: I'm sure if you're standing there, and I've stood there on the stage...

PM: Twelve times I've done it!

NP: I know but you can feel the wind, it doesn't...

PM: All right, 14!

NP: I agree with... it probably doesn't hit you in the face.

PM: No it doesn't.

NP: He was making a colloquial phrase to convey that the wind comes in...

PM: Yeah he was describing what the wind does.

NP: It's open to the sky, so forth, the wind, you can feel the wind.

PM: I know.

GB: What a picture! What a picture given his locks. Can you imagine the wind going through...

NP: Paul I gave you the benefit of the doubt on a challenge just recently. I'm going to give Stephen the benefit of the doubt and say right, Stephen you still have it, well, you always had it. You've got the subject now, you have 30 seconds still, the Globe Theatre starting now.

SM: Despite appearing in an Elizabethan play, I didn't need a wig which went...


NP: Gyles challenged.

GB: Repetition of Elizabethan.

PM: Yeah.

NP: You had Elizabethan before, Elizabethan theatre. Right so Gyles, it's gone very quiet suddenly, I don't know why, 26 seconds are still available Gyles, tell us something about the Globe Theatre starting now.

GB: When I was a child, I believed that the Globe Theatre was named after...


NP: Alun challenged.

PM: Just give Alun the bonus point, we know where we are.

AC: I nearly left it but sometimes you have to give the people what they want.

NP: So what is your challenge?

AC: It's disputing that Gyles was a child, again.

NP: Well I think we have established he was a child once.

AC: We've seen no proof Nicholas.

NP: No but you're getting a lot of bonus points, aren't you. All right. Gyles you were interrupted, you have 20 seconds, the Globe Theatre starting now.

GB: In fact the theatre I am thinking of is in Shaftesbury Avenue, called after a...


NP: Alun challenged.

AC: Deviation, it's a different theatre.

GB: No it isn't.

AC: Oh is it?

GB: No it's the same theatre, changed it's name.

AC: Oh I feel a fool!

NP: The Globe Theatre, yes, I worked there. Years ago.

AC: I'm learning.

PM: Shakespeare gave you the job, didn't he. Shakespeare gave him the job! They were looking for somebody who could play older parts!

NP: You are absolutely wicked! You know you are. I'll show you how generous I am, it was a lovely joke, give him a bonus point. Gyles you were interrupted, there was a Globe Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, it's now changed its name, it's the ah, is it the Carlton?

GB: I'm about to tell you what it's called.

NP: All right and you have 16 seconds starting now.

GB: It is now called the Gielgud Theatre...

NP: That's right.

GB: ... named after Sir John of that particular surname. Though I recall it when it was known as the Lobe. That was the week the G fell off. And they could not afford to replace it because at the salary they were paying to Nicholas Parsons, starring in There's A Girl In My Soup...


NP: I know, the salaries were not... it was a revue. It started as the Limerick Revue and then we went to the Globe Theatre and we called it the Globe Revue. It was the day when they did intimate revue, in the 50s. It's all gone! Gyles you got the extra point for speaking as the whistle went, you've taken the lead, two ahead of Paul and you're going to begin the next round because it is your turn. And the subject now is the big bang. Tell us something about the big bang, start...

GB: If...

NP: It's all right, starting now

GB: If you want the big bang...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Repetition of if.

GB: The first time round of course Nicholas hadn't started us.

PM: That's right.

NP: Right okay, 59 seconds on the big bang, Gyles starting now.

GB: I am not interested in theory or things that happened 27 billion years ago or neurons or hydrogen. What I want to tell you about is the big bang that occurred in my life this very week, when I went to the local supermarket and tried to use one of those machines to pay for the goods as I left. It was a nightmare! The whole experience has set my pacemaker off, I'm now on drugs! What I'm trying to do is ban this wretched machine. As I put down the groceries on one side, it said "take them off, they are not allowed here". None of the computer cards would work as I tried to pay for my goods. It was a humiliating and disgusting experience. And I am now hoping no longer to have a big bang anyway when I go to shop. I want a little village boutique where I can buy my grapes from a person, not a big bang...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Well I don't know, this is stretching the definition of big bang a bit, isn't it? We've had stuff about village shops, boutiques, small goods, it's a long way from the big bang.

NP: Yeah if the subject had been a big bang, I think you would have been justified.

GB: If you heard this big bang, you would say this was the big bang.

NP: I don't think there were any bangs except for the bangs you were making.

GB: There weren't any bangs except the bangs I was making. Have you ever tried using one of these machines, Nicholas?

NP: No I wouldn't dare!

GB: Normally for people of our vintage, a nice young lady comes up to help us through it.

NP: That's right.

GB: That's what normally happens.

PM: What are we talking about now? One minute it was shopping, next minute it's...

NP: No it's...

PM: A set of jump leads!

NP: Give me some jump leads and I'll plug them into Stephen Mangan here and that will set me alight, wouldn't it. Right Paul, benefit of the doubt to you...

PM: Okay.

NP: You have the subject, 13 seconds, the big bang starting now.

PM: Our universe was created by a big bang according to the scientist. They can almost tell us exactly what the situation was like within a milli-second of the big bang occurring. But these particular educated men of science can not inform us what was there before...


NP: Oh right so Paul Merton was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. I am getting rather dramatic now because we are moving into the final round. And Paul Merton and Gyles Brandreth are equal in the lead and only a point or two behind them is Stephen Mangan, and a point or two behind him is Alun Cochrane. And Paul it's your turn to begin and it's a phrase we have heard often, it was just an ordinary day. Will you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PM: It was just an ordinary day. I climbed out of bed at 6.30, moved down towards the living room, made my way out of the house, down to the newsagents. There I was met by a man who wore a long grey overcoat. He whispered something in my ear, that at first didn't make any sense. He said the pigeons are flying high in Crakow this evening. At the time I didn't know that he was the Polish correspondent for The Bird Weekly aviary magazine which has been published in that city for the last 200 years. Before I knew where I was, I felt the world swirling around me, a hole opened up at my feet and I dived in. When I came around I was in a slow boat to Cairo. I reeked of sardines and hair oil. What had happened to me over the last 15 days? I checked the calendar in my pocket, it told me the day was March 31st. And yet I distinctly remembered that when I left my abode it had been December 15th. Where had the intervening months gone? It was then I saw a spectre coming towards me...


NP: Well what a way to bring the show to an end with such a flourish! Unbelievable.

PM: I'm glad the whistle went because I had no idea what the next word was going to be! And I didn't throughout the rest of it so...

NP: So I think you might have guessed now who has won. But I'll just say that Alun who hasn't played it quite so often finished up in a very powerful fourth place. And then it was Stephen who has only played it once before, and that was on television, so he did very well. Gyles who has played it a lot finished up two points behind Paul Merton. So we say Paul you are our winner this week! So I say thank you to these four fine players of this game, Paul Merton, Alun Cochrane, Stephen Mangan and Gyles Brandreth. I thank Sharon Leonard who helped me with the score, blown her whistle with such aplomb when the 60 seconds elapsed. We are grateful to our producer Tilusha Ghelani. We are deeply indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. And we are grateful to this lovely audience, here in the Radio Theatre, who have cheered us on our way magnificently. So from the audience, from me, Nicholas Parsons, and the team, good-bye, and tune in the next time we play Just A Minute! Yes!