NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Thank you, hello my name is Nicholas Parsons. And as the Minute Waltz fades away once more, it is my pleasure to welcome the many listeners that we have throughout the world and also the four exciting and talented players who are going to partake in the show this week. We welcome back the irrepressible Paul Merton, the witty Peter Jones, the erudite Clement Freud, and the formidable Stephen Fry. Would you please welcome all four of them! And as usual, I'm going to ask them to speak on a subject I give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviating from the subject. Beside me sits Jane Gibson who's going to help me keep the score and she'll blow her 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 right in the centre W1A1AA District of London. I mention that in case you want to write in! And we begin the show this week with Paul Merton, and the subject Paul is flirting. Oh tell us something about that delightful subject in this game starting now.

PAUL MERTON: Certainly Nicholas, you gorgeous creature!

NP: Oh!

PM: My girlfriend always thinks that I'm flirting if I'm ever to kiss another human being with tongues, or to feel the pert bottom, she considers this flirting. It's outrageous! She has a very jealous nature. Because I think the very art of flirting is kind of like a social cohesive glue. It brings us together. We're allowed to flirt with one another in a happy go lucky way. Perhaps in the old days we might have had a fan fluttering in front of our face and look across the room. There was that rather special person, shy, coy, look downwards, and then a look perhaps over towards the buffet...


NP: And Stephen Fry challenged.

STEPHEN FRY: Just so damn good! But I'm afraid there were two looks.

PM: Two looks!

NP: There were two looks, yes it was going extremely well and they were enjoying it. The audience were actually responding to your flirtation Paul...

PM: I'll go out with them if they want! They can get the first round in!

NP: Yes! Right, Stephen Fry had a correct challenge, he gets a point for that, he takes over the subject, which is flirting, and there are 21 seconds available starting now.

SF: Who was it that said women should always give in straight away, otherwise they're accused of being a flirt? I don't know who it was...


NP: Um, Clement Freud challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: I don't know!

NP: What is your challenge within the rules of Just A Minute, Clement, do you have one?

CF: He asked me a question!

NP: Right, he was actually looking at the audience but one of them responded.

CF: No..

NP: Clement, we enjoyed your response, so I'll tell you what I'll do as we often do on these occasions. I give you a bonus point for a clever interruption but as Stephen was interrupted he gets a point for that, he keeps the subject of flirting, there are 14 seconds available starting now.

SF: Those smoldering bedroom eyes! Those kiss me quick ears! Those...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Three those.

SF: Oh damn!

NP: Three those, yes! And Clement you got in with a correct challenge in Just A Minute this time. Nine seconds available, flirting Clement starting now.

CF: I had a friend who flirted and sought medical advice. And the doctor said "do you do it often?" He replied "infrequent". And the medic said "is that one word or two?"


NP: Clement Freud was speaking as the whistle went and whoever is doing that gains an extra point...

SF: In a way it's one of the sad things about the game is that he can speak for 39 seconds which is jolly difficult and not get a point...

NP: I know...

SF: ...because he started. It's sort of unfair in a way.

NP: The irony, the irony of the show is you can do all the hard work and speak for 59 seconds and then someone comes in with one second to go and gets two points! It's, um, it's a tough game.

SF: It is a tough game!

NP: Yes!

SF: It's a tough brutal hard game. A game for men!

NP: Yes...

SF: And women and others!

NP: But it's certainly not... Not the traditional game of two halves!

SF: No!

NP: Right, Peter Jones will you take the next round? Lovely to hear from you! The subject is mint. Tell us something about it in Just A Minute starting now.

PETER JONES: Mint is a wonderful herb. And it grows like a weed. If you put it in a garden it spreads and more or less kills, annihilates all the plants around it. But mint tea is another thing altogether, and I remember having some while I was in Morocco. We went on a little journey trying to find the desert which eluded us! But ... er, eventually we arrived at a tent and an Arab brought out a cup or mug of mint tea, which he said was very refreshing. And really I nearly threw up! In fact I, the memory of it now makes me feel a bit queasy! And so I may not be able to go on for the full 60 seconds because I have to retire hurt and be replaced by somebody else! I can't think who could do it....


PJ: ... But it would be nice if they were able to.

NP: That was an example of what Stephen was just saying. I mean, you've been for 52 seconds...

SF: Oh dear!

NP: All that hard work and the audience loved it, you got huge laughs and Stephen's got in with a correct challenge and only eight seconds to go. He takes over mint...

PJ: Have you got your own watch?

SF: No I haven't! I feel such a brute!

NP: Yes!

SF: I think I'm going to repeat the word buttery so look out just in case I do! You never know!

PJ: No! Right!

NP: Are you ready for this?

PJ: Yes I am ready!

NP: Eight seconds Stephen on mint starting now.

SF: Buttery! Of course the real mint...


NP: And Paul Merton's challenged.

SF: I only said it one time!

PM: He's about to repeat the word buttery!

NP: I'm sorry Paul, we can't have psychic challenges! They don't work in Just A Minute. So Stephen has another point for being interrupted, or an incorrect challenge actually and he has seven seconds on mint starting now.

SF: The Royal Mint, of course, buttery, produces money and things like that...


NP: Peter you're the only person in this, who ever plays this game who gets a round of applause for challenging! And what was your challenge Peter?

PJ: It was repetition. Of buttery!

NP: Oh buttery! Yes! Well listened! Another round of applause!

PM: Although you disallowed my challenge it does prove that I'm psychic!

NP: Yes it does! Peter you've got four seconds to go on mint starting now.

PJ: It's literally where they have a place...


NP: So Peter Jones justifiably got two points in that round. And he's now in third place, he's only one point behind Clement Freud, Stephen Fry's in the lead. And Clement your turn to begin. The subject is making a silk purse out of a sow's ear. A long subject but talk on it if you can, 60 seconds as usual, starting now.

CF: I think that the saying is that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Therefore making a silk purse out of a sow's ear would be difficult. I once left a note on my car because I had parked on a double yellow line. And written on the piece of paper was "have run over cat, am consoling owner". I think what you have to do is make the best of a rotten lot, which is what making a silk purse out of a sow's ear probably was intended to convey in the initial... saying of that non... axiom....


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: He seemed to be grinding to a halt!

CF: A fine one to talk, if I may say!

NP: Ah they love each other don't they! Right! Yes we interpret that as hesitation Peter so a correct challenge, a point to you, 18 seconds available, making a silk purse out of a sow's ear starting now.

PJ: Well I suppose it could be done, because pig's skin is quite a good kind of leather which you could fashion into a purse. Though if it had to be from a sow's ear...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Well I think it's a deviation because the sow's ear isn't made of silk. So you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

NP: You can't...

PM: So even if you took the sow's ear and made a purse out of it, it would not be a... I believe there's a saying that encompasses what I'm trying to say here! Because the purse is silk and the pig's ear is not silk, you cannot make a silk purse, out of a sow's ear, in fact.

SF: You can make a pig's ear out of a sentence!

PM: Absolutely!

NP: We let you go on that one Paul, because we did enjoy it. But it is a correct challenge and you have six seconds on making a silk purse out of a sow's ear starting now.

PM: Making a silk purse out of a sow's ear is very difficult indeed!


NP: Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went gained an extra point for doing so and they're all pretty equal at the end of the round. And Stephen Fry, your turn to begin. The subject, limbering up. Tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

SF: What a wonderful phrase, limbering up. I don't know what it implies, a sort of certain amount of oil being applied to the skin somehow. I don't know why I should think that's true but I do. Girding the loins, a favourite phrase of our beloved Nicholas Parsons and I use that word of course wrongly! It's a kind of phrase isn't it, limbering up, that you use before contests, races, Olympic events, pentathlons, decathlons. If I wanted to start making a catalogue I could, but I'm not going to, because I don't play the game that way. When I limber up for this game I tend to try and think of words and try of course very hard not....


SF: ... to say the word try all the time.

NP: Stephen?

SF: I repeated try.

NP: And you actually challenged yourself Stephen.

SF: Repetition of try which is just really ridiculous!

NP: I know! Well you were listening to yourself at least...

SF: More than anybody else was! And who can blame them!

NP: So that is a correct challenge, I suppose, within the rules of Just A Minute, I've got to give it to you!

SF: Oh good!

NP: And you have 27 seconds to continue on limbering up starting now.

SF: You can't really limber down, can you? I don't know why. What does limber mean? I suppose limb which is leg...


NP: Peter challenged.

PJ: He doesn't even know the meaning of the word!

NP: Peter you have limbering up, you have 21 seconds starting now.

PJ: I see people limbering up before they go into the park for runs round it. And they stand holding a pole and raising one leg after another, and then they start running....


NP: Stephen you challenged?

SF: Can I have the address and time because I want to see this! This is very exciting!

NP: You were interrupted Peter so you get a point for being interrupted...

PJ: Ah yes of course!

NP: Because it was an incorrect challenge and you keep the subject, another point to you, nine seconds available, limbering up, starting now.

PJ: They always look so unhappy. Their faces contorted. And I raise my glass as I look through the window! That's the only exercise I have and then....


NP: So Peter Jones was speaking as the whistle went as well as other points he gained in that round. And he's now in the lead at the end of that round. And Paul Merton, your turn to begin, the subject, my sixth sense. You've referred to that more than once in Just A Minute. talk on it if you can starting now.

PM: My sixth sense tells me that the Welsh Assembly, and the Scottish one...


NP: Clement you challenged.

CF: Devolution!

NP: Brilliant, Clement, brilliant! We give you a bonus point for that, I wish I could give you two...

PM: Give him two!

NP: No...

PM: Give him one for the Welsh and one for Scottish!

NP: Very quick challenge! But Paul you were interrupted so you get a point for that. You keep the subject, 55 seconds, my sixth sense, starting now.

PM: I suppose by sixth sense we mean our psychic abilities to see into the future. The mist... er....


NP: Stephen Fry you challenged.

SF: The mist has enveloped his mind, I'm sorry!

NP: Yes! It has! So we call that hesitation, 45 seconds available Stephen for you on my sixth sense starting now.

SF: My sixth sense is actually not exactly an ability to see into the future. It's an ability to see sideways...


NP: Paul challenged.

SF: Oh bother!

PM: Ability twice!

SF: Oh damn! Gee what an arse! So sorry...

PM: Thank you, thank you, Stephen! If you'd said that earlier, I wouldn't have challenged you!

NP: Paul you have the subject back of my sixth sense and there are 38 seconds available starting now.

PM: I see five people...


NP: Stephen challenged.

SF: Repetition of see.

NP: Yes! Thirty-five seconds, Stephen, my sixth sense starting now.


NP: And Paul Merton challenged.

PM: He's thinking it!

SF: Oh you could see me yes, but I didn't repeat, did I?

NP: No...

SF: He's got it, he's got the same sixth sense as me and I was transmitting it. Most of the audience got it, did you not pick it up?

NP: I did indeed, but the audience were a bit dead.

SF: No, no, they picked it up, they knew what I was saying.

NP: They've gone home. most of them out there.

SF: I was using my sixth sense, without repetition or deviation...

NP: No...

SF: I did hesitate slightly though, you could be right...

NP: You were absolutely silent actually Stephen! Paul, I agree with your challenge, 33 seconds, my sixth sense, starting now.

PM: Mystic Meg, that charlatan who appears every Saturday night on television saying things like "oooh a man in Peterborough will get something very surprising through the post". You know... er....


NP: Clement challenged.

CF: Hesitation.

NP: Yes alas, hesitation, 21 seconds Clement tell us something about my sixth sense starting now.

CF: I think people are pretty lucky to have a sixth sense. those of us who only have five, four, three or two manage to get along famously. Whereas a sixth sense which is I believe, something which comes to you not from the written page, nor from something which you've read...


NP: Stephen challenged.

CF: Something!

NP: Something!

SF: There were two somethings.

NP: Two somethings yes. And you very cleverly or naughtily, whichever way you look at it, got in with one second to go on my sixth sense starting now.

SF: It's rather peculiar....


NP: So Stephen Fry speaking as the whistle went gained an extra point. Now they all three are equal in second place behind Peter Jones who is still just in the lead. And Stephen Fry your turn to begin, the subject, rubber plants. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

SF: Of all the tedious, wearisome subjects I have ever been given on this game, I think rubber plants just about sneaks the Garibaldi! I've never heard of anything so absurd in my life! They're strange green dusty things people have in the corner of offices, I suppose! Never found them appealing! Is a yukker a rubber plant? That's a rhetorical question, I don't want Clement Freud to interrupt and challenge! They're just dull strange peculiar things that I have no interest in whatsoever and I'm sure very few of the listenership have much, frankly, of a torto... er...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Um, a mercy bid!

NP: That's right, yes! Yes it's a bit of a rubbery subject, isn't it, I agree yes, but there we are! Paul, 33 seconds, rubber plants, starting now.

PM: Well rather like Stephen I find them rather boring objects. I think you do put them...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Two rathers in the first sentence. Rather like Stephen and rather... so.

NP: Yes all right Clement, 28 seconds...

PM: Well that happens to be my word of the week! I'm being sponsored by the Rather Council!

NP: Rubber plants is with you Clement, 28 seconds, starting now.

CF: Rubber plant is a snooker term, and what you do is you...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Deviation, no it isn't! Rubber plant is not a snooker term! Don't look at me in that bewildered fashion Nicholas, I'm telling ya!

NP: I'm playing for time! I don't think it's a snooker term.

PM: No rubber plant, no.

NP: No, rubber plant, what is it Clement?

CF: A snooker term!

NP: I am... I'm going to stick my neck out here...

SF: Give him a chance to speak in his own defence! You can't condemn the man unless he's allowed to offer us a convincing explanation of why...

NP: That's why I did ask him to, but he declined.

SF: Well he said it was a snooker term and then you immediately overran him! He may be about to tell us...

NP: I didn't overrun him...

SF: ... to what it refers....

NP: I waited Stephen! Have you deliberately come to be argumentative?

SF: Yes! Oh yes! Oh rather!

NP: Right!

SF: No I haven't!

NP: Clement, are you...

SF: No! Not at all!

PM: Let's find out what this rubber plant is!

NP: Yes what is a rubber plant is snooker?

CF: It's a snooker term!

SF: We gave him a chance, hang him! Hang him, hang him!

NP: Yes! I think the fact that he can go no further convinces me that he was bluffing! And you're allowed to bluff in Just A Minute but I have to know whether it's right or not. So I give you the benefit of the doubt Paul you have 22 seconds on rubber plant starting now.

PM: Rubber plant is a term used in billiards where you have a red ball and the white ball up against the cushion. If you can...


NP: Clement you challenged?

CF: Repetition of ball.

PM: Two balls?

CF: It is all balls!

PM: That's nice, isn't it!

NP: Fifteen seconds Clement, back with you, rubber plant, starting now.

CF: Rubber...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: Hesitation.

NP: Well done Peter, yes! In there like a knife, right! And you've got 12 seconds on rubber plant starting now.

PJ: Rubber plant is an expression used by people who don't play snooker. That is the explanation for... er....


PJ: ... whatever it is...

NP: Paul Merton's challenged.

PM: Hesitation, sadly.

NP: I'm afraid so, yes, Paul correct challenge. You got in with two seconds to go on rubber plants starting now.

PM: Picture the scene! A rubber plant standing...


NP: So Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went gained that extra point for doing so, and he has moved forward into second place behind Peter Jones who's still in the lead. And Peter, your turn to begin, the subject, when less is more. A bit of an obtuse subject but talk on it if you can starting now.

PJ: Well I don't think I can talk on it for a minute! But I think in view of the subject the less I say the better.


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Repetition of think, thereby proving Peter right! He did repeat think. I don't think, but I think.

PJ: Oh I did, yes!

NP: I know, right, so Paul you got in first, 54 seconds, when less is more starting now.

PM: This is a term you often hear in theatrical circles. When people say you don't need to do a three hour show, you give them an hour and a half, leave them wanting more. And I believe this is an er....


NP: Clement challenged, right?

CF: Repetition of hour.

NP: Of hour? Or er?

CF: A three hour show, one and a half hour.

NP: Forty-two seconds for you Clement on when less is more starting now.

CF: In the restaurant trade when less is more means that more...


NP: Stephen challenged.

SF: A bit of hesitation there I thought.

NP: No I don't think so...

SF: No, no, I was overdoing it.

NP: Thirty-nine seconds, an incorrect challenge, with you Clement, when less is more starting now.

CF: You see a greater expanse of plate as there is less food upon it. This is um when less is more....


NP: Stephen.

SF: Well um is definitely a word that proves it.

NP: Yes that was hesitation Stephen, you got in there with...

CF: Where was the hesitation?

SF: You said um.

NP: I gave it to you, the benefit of the doubt, last time. I give it over to Stephen this time which is the only fair thing to do. When less is more, 30 seconds with you Stephen starting now.

SF: Very kind of you! Of course in theatrical circles as Paul was pointing out we often say in that camp way we have, Anton Lesser is Kenneth More. Um, because of the actor, it's a rather revolting way of implying it of course. It also implies the level of performance, that simply underplaying the role rather than screaming over the top in some vast manner can often create a much more likable, much more realistic effect....


SF: Bother!

NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Too much mores.

SF: Oh!

NP: Too much mores yes! Paul you got in with eight seconds on when less is more starting now.

PM: I want you to imagine the situation. You're a farmer, deep in the heart of Norfolk. You're in the middle of a field...


NP: And Stephen challenged.

SF: I suppose, unless he said the second one was urine, that's two you'res. You're a farmer, you're in the middle of a field. I assume... It's possible, it's possible it wasn't a repetition in which case it was simply deviant!

NP: So a correct challenge Stephen, two seconds on when less is more starting now.

SF: Less is also more in this game we call Just A Minute...


NP: I don't think this has ever happened in Just A Minute before. At the end of that round they're all four equal in the same situation. And if you want to know, they've got quite a lot of points between them. And Clement Freud it's your turn to begin, the subject Charles Dickens. Tell us something about that great man in this game starting now.

CF: Charles Dickens was born in 1812 which is the date of the Battle of Trafalgar three years before Waterloo. I just thought I'd...


NP: Stephen Fry.

SF: No it isn't! Trafalgar wasn't in 1812 was it?

NP: No it was in 1805.

SF: Yeah! Yeah seven years out. Way off. It was the year Perry went to Moscow, hence the Tchaicosky and everything...

CF: Near enough!

SF: Quite! Fair enough! Seven years!

NP: Stephen you've got in with 49 seconds on Charles Dickens starting now.

SF: I feel really awful about that. I think he was born, wasn't he, in Portsmouth or Plymouth or one of those places. Definitely the first one I mentioned.


NP: Yes you challenged Peter?

PJ: Yes.

NP: Hesitation?

PJ: Yes.

NP: Hesitation!

PJ: Yes it was, wasn't it!

NP: He definitely said er.

PJ: Plymouth and Portsmouth or one of those places!

NP: He wasn't deviating, he hesitated, he said er.

PJ: We'll get a lot of letters from the West Country and they'll all object to that.

NP: Wait a minute! I don't... Have you started? Because I haven't said now yet.

PJ: Oh...

NP: Are you working? Or are you just chatting?

PJ: Working? What do you mean? Tonight?

NP: Are you going on the subject or were you chatting to me?

PJ: I was just chatting, you know...

NP: Oh that's quite all right...

PJ: God knows if there isn't room to have a few personal words! What's the point of flogging myself in a game... It's ridiculous!

NP: It is traditional, which I thought you might know after all this time Peter that I do say start now so they start the clock...

PJ: I know! You do it beautifully too!

NP: I know. The reason is they have to start the clock when I say now...

PJ: Ah right! Yes! Poor Jane!

NP: You have the subject Peter of Charles Dickens and there are 42 seconds starting now.

PJ: Wonderful writer! And one of the best things he ever did I think, was a description of his journey to America. He described the cabin and the ship and all the other passengers on it. And it's absolutely riveting. Better really than many of the novels that he also penned, and which I've enjoyed over the years many times. And they make films of them as you well know. And he was an actor, basically, because he really liked to perform and have a little dance on the stage. And he entertained people, he could make your blood run cold. I won't say he was better than Paul Merton at doing that kind of thing! But he certainly would have challenged him, had he been alive...


NP: So Peter Jones with that interesting information about Charles Dickens kept going until the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. He's equal now in the lead with Stephen Fry and the other two are just two points behind equal in second place. And we're into the last round so those interested in points and so forth it's still anybody's contest. And Stephen Fry it's your turn to begin, the subject, peeling an orange. Tell us something about that in this game if you can starting now.

SF: Peeling an orange, a procedure in which I am spectacularly incompetent. I tend to push my thumb into the navel if it's that kind of omphallic fruit or simply lose a knife really. I don't know if that counts as peeling. I peel after the implement of cutlery has inserted itself into the skin. I pull back...


NP: Peter you challenged again.

PJ: Hesitation.

NP: He did hesitate a long time back. You let him go for quite a while...

PJ: Yes it was definitely, well, I'm generous...

NP: Yes you are generous. It was after he pushed his thumb...

PJ: I was fair to you anyway!

NP: After he pushed his thumb in and he hesitated...

PJ: Yes I know!

NP: ... and the thought of the image he created of going into the navel like that....

PJ: Quite!

NP: I thought it was quite a sick-making thought. But um you got in for hesitation...

SF: I met a man the other day, he said he was a navel doctor. I didn't know they specialised that much these days!

PM: I met a head surgeon!

SF: Really?

NP: Right! Any more interesting comments? Right, 32 seconds Peter for you on peeling an orange starting now.

PJ: The best way to find out how to peel an orange is to write to that man who writes in the Sunday Telegraph I think it is, on etiquette. And people write with the most extraordinary problems...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of Stockholm.

NP: Yes. He didn't say Stockholm, but what's in your mind in saying that?

CF: I'd like him to have another point.

NP: This is a novel and highly generous way of playing the game and...

CF: You asked me what was in my mind.

NP: You're right. He definitely didn't say Stockholm, I was listening very carefully...

CF: Ah, he gets another point...

PJ: If I did, it was only once!

NP: Well Peter you've got 20 seconds to keep going on peeling an orange if you can starting now.

PJ: In Sweden they peel oranges in an entirely different way. Because the skin is usually thinner there because of the cold weather you know. And they don't have a lot to do. But once they've got it off the fruit inside then they're able to enjoy it with a glass of schnapps or something equivalent that they er...


NP: Well Peter Jones with a little encouragement from the others kept going until the whistle meant, gained that extra point, and I will now give you the final score. A lot of points were scored, an amazing number of points for one show, but very fairly actually Clement Freud, Paul Merton and Stephen Fry all finished up equal in second place. But just ahead of them was Peter Jones, so Peter we say you're the winner this week. A popular winner undoubtedly! It only remains for me to say thank you to our four intrepid players of the game, Peter Jones, Stephen Fry, Paul Merton and Clement Freud, we thank them. I thank Jane Gibson who's helped me with the scores, she's blown her whistle beautifully. We thank Ian Messiter who created the game, our producer and director Chris Neill, Martha our recording engineer. And we thank our lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre in London for attending and encouraging us. From them, from me, Nicholas Parsons, goodbye, hope you enjoyed it, next time we play Just A Minute.