NOTE: Transcribed by Mr Nylon, thank you sir!

Rounds (starting times)

  1. A Vintage Year (1:03)
  2. Russian Dolls (3:49)
  3. Homer (6:41)
  4. My First Flat (8:29)
  5. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (10:13)
  6. My First Love (12:50)
  7. Plymouth Rock (15:42)
  8. The Fish Finger (18:28)
  9. Pride and Prejudice (21:46)
  10. A Penny For Your Thoughts (24:08)

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute.


NP: Hello. My name is Nicholas Parsons and as the Minute Waltz fades away once more it's my huge pleasure to welcome our many listeners not only in this country but around the world. But to welcome to the programme four exciting, dynamic people who are going to show their skill with words and language as they try and speak on the subject I give them and they do that without hesitation, repetition or deviation. And they are - seated on my right - Stephen Fry and Josie Lawrence, and seated on my left, Jenny Eclair and Nish Kumar. Will you please welcome all four of them. [Applause] Beside me sits Hayley Sterling who's going to run the stopwatch for me and help me with the score and she'll blow the whistle when the sixty seconds have elapsed. As we begin the show with Jenny Eclair, and who better? Jenny - 'A Vintage Year'. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

JENNY ECLAIR: The year I was born was a vintage, like a fine wine, full-bodied, characterful and fruity, also with a tannin bitter aftertaste. I can leave people with a familiar feeling of a hangover like an Alsatian has bitten the back-


NP: Stephen, you've challenged.

STEPHEN FRY: It was 'like'. A couple of 'likes'. 'Like' just know and there was 'like a fine wine' earlier.

JE: Also I was talking rubbish.

SF: Yeah, well, that's all right.

JE: I would like to thank you, Stephen-

SF: Amiable rubbish.

JE: -for saving me from national humiliation.

NP: Jenny, there's nothing in the rules of the game which says you can't talk rubbish providing you keep going without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Stephen, a correct challenge so you get a point for that and you take over the subject. There are forty seconds still available. A Vintage Year, starting now.

SF: When I was seventeen it was a very good year. That's what Frank Sinatra - a hundred years old this year - said. Ah, actually he wasn't-


SF: Oh, I 'ah'ed.

NP: Nish challenged.

NISH KUMAR: Hesitation.

SF: Yeah yeah.

NP: Why?

NK: He said 'ah'.

SF: Yeah yeah. Cruel, but fair. Yeah.

NP: Nish, a correct challenge. You have thirty-one seconds if you need it. And the subject is A Vintage Year. Starting now.

NK: I would argue 1985 was a vintage year. Why? Because it was the year I was born and myself has done-

BUZZ. Audience laughs.

NP: That's what this show does to you.

SF: As long as you don't overdo it. As long as you don't overdo it, Nish, you can say the word "I" more than once.


NP: It wasn't that. It was your lovely use of language which is - it gets you you, doesn't it? But who challenged? Josie, you challenged first didn't you?

JOSIE LAWRENCE: Yes, hesitation.

NP: Hesitation.

JL: "Myself has done".

NK: Yeah.

NP: Right. Josie. Twenty-one seconds are still available. A Vintage Year. Starting now.

JL: A vintage year. A year that you remember as being totally successful and beautiful in your mind. My vintage year - although there are quite a few - must be when I was a student in Dartington College of Arts, leaving my parents behind and growing into the woman you see.


NP: Oh Josie, it was getting very emotional. You were speaking as the whistle went and in this game whoever does that gains an extra point. So Josie, you've got the lead at the end of the round. And Nish, we'd like you to begin the next round. Russian Dolls. Do you have any at home, by the way?

NK: I don't know. And I think this next minute could be very interesting. I say "minute". That's a very generous summation of what's going to happen.

SF: Don't waste it.

NP: Don't waste it. Right. Russian Dolls. Sixty seconds if you want it Nish. Starting now.

NK: Russian dolls. Dolls that are Russian. Dolls within dolls. Dolls inside dolls. Dolls from Russia. A country-

BUZZ. [Audience cheers, applause.]

NP: I think that deserves a bonus point for the way you kept going. But Jenny, you challenged.

JE: Repetition of 'Russia'.

SF: Ah, Russia!

NP: Oh yes. It was Russian Dolls. And you repeated 'Russia' rather than 'Russian'.

JE: 'Russia' rather than 'Russian'.

NP: Right. Well listened, Jenny.

JE: Petty of me but - you know...

NK: Jenny, you really saved me.

JE: I was thinking of your mother listening to this, sobbing in her kitchen. "But I thought he was a bright boy! Oh, Nish!"

NP: I think it was very bright to do as you did and keep going. The audience loved it. Forty-six seconds available, Jenny. Russian dolls, starting now.

JE: These were quite a fad back in my school days and many of my chums had them lined up on their window sills. I craved Russian dolls. "Mummy, please!" but my mother - Northern, quite hard - said "Make your own out of toilet rolls, girl. Use your imagination." So I did, and on my bedside table there was a collection of lavatory holder Russian dolls painted just like the wooden originals actually done with umm- oh! I forgot the word for beltic (?). I was back there. I was back there.

NP: So Nish. You challenged first.

JE: Yes.

NP: Do you really want the subject? Because you've got it.

NK: Hesitation. Yes, I want it. I feel more ready for it than ever.

NP: Well-

SF: Three seconds left!

NP: You've only got seven seconds so you're all right. Russian dolls, back with you, Nish. Starting now.

NK: Russian dolls. Dolls that are Russian. Dolls inside dolls-


NP: Actually, Nish. Noone's ever done that before: when they've got back in, repeating what they've said before. There's nothing in the rules that says you can't do that. But anyway Nish, you were speaking when the whistle went. You are now in the lead. Ahead of all the others.

JE: Nish. Nish. Your self done good.

NP: Josie. We'd like you to start the next round. The subject - oh, a nice erudite one. Homer. Tell us something about that Greek um poet, character, whatever you want to call him. Starting now.

JL: Homer is one of my favourite literary heroes. He has the ability to take you to fantastical lands and a unique way with words. I often quote Homer. Here's a few. "Mmmmm doughnuts", "Woohoo!" and of course, "D'oh!". He has a family: Marge, his long-suffering wife; Bart, his son; and Lisa and Maggie, the daughters. He has never written 'The Iliad' or 'The Odyssey' because he's two-dimensional and wouldn't be able to hold a pen. Bart is-


NP: Stephen, you challenged.

SF: Oh I - two Barts, I'm afraid. It was great but-

JL: Yes, I meant to say 'Homer'.

NP: I know you did, but anyway there's - Stephen, you've got in with nineteen seconds to go on Homer, starting now.

SF: No-one actually knows who the poet Homer really was, when he exactly lived, or even if he could write. There's a strong theory that it was the oral tradition that was passed on to subsequent generations who then wrote down the epic poems we know as 'The Iliad' and 'Odyssey'.


NP: It's lovely having you on the show. We get so much interesting, erudite information, Stephen. And you kept going until the whistle went. You gained an extra point for doing so, and you're in second place behind Nish. And it's also your turn to begin. And the subject is My First Flat starting now.

SF: It was 48 Draycot Place, SW3. How lucky I was to be able to live in such a swish part of London. Very few who left university would now be able to have such accommodation, I'm sorry to say. Also you could argue my first flat happened on the M11. Awfully embarrassing. I think I may have run over a nail or some other sharp object which punctured the inner tube and caused me no end of inconvenience. What do you do? Well, on television I'd seen people jacking up their automobiles and attempting to undo the nuts and replace with a spare but I didn't really have any full acquaintance as to how this worked. It seemed to be a mystery. My first flat was really a nightmare. It was a terrible thing. I waved my hand by the side of the motorway asking people if they could help. Very few did until a kind gentleman eventually stopped and demonstrated to me the art of-


NP: Stephen, did you know you can take out insurance for that, and there's a vehicle organisation?

JE: You could join the AA but you could never mention it in a round of Just A Minute.

SF: No. It's true.

JE: Could you imagine it? "AA".

NP: I know.

SF: Yes.

NP: And they would have come to help you, Stephen. I can recommend that you do that-

SF: Well, thank you for that, I'll remember that.

NP: - because I can't see you putting a spare wheel on very well. So, Stephen. You were speaking when the whistle went and you gained an extra point. You've taken the lead ahead of Nish and Josie and Jenny. And Jenny, we're with you to begin and the subject is The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

JE: The Tale of Peter Rabbit was written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, a woman who lived in the Lake District. Talented writer and painter was fa-fabled tall tale tale-


NP: Nish. You challenged first.

NK: Hesitation.

NP: You interpret it as hesitation.

NK: Yeah yeah.

NP: So you've got another point, Nish, and you're moving forward and you've got the Tale of Peter Rabbit and there's forty-seven seconds if you want it, starting now.

NK: The tail of Peter Rabbit is white and fluffy as with a lot of rabbits regardless or not of whether they are named Peter. It is near the back of the animal and is very often used to illustrate happiness in an animal, say a dog for-


NP: Ohhh. Stephen challenged.

SF: Yeah, another animal there.

NP: It was another animal.

NK: I mean - I was on thin ice as I opened my mouth.

JE: Is it not called a 'scut'-

SF: Scut. Yes. Good word.

JE: I think you'll find it's called a 'scut'. [Laughs]

SF: She's pleased with that.

NP: Oh right. You might get in again, Jenny. You can use that. Twenty-nine seconds for you, Stephen, and another point of course. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, starting now.

SF: What do I remember about the Tale of Peter Rabbit? Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail - siblings of Peter Rabbit, of course. The gardener's name was McGregor, who was very much the enemy. I recall lettuce as being a soporific that caused them to fall asleep. Very touching. The drawings were marvellous. Beatrix Potter herself - as has been said - deeply talented woman, not just as a children's illustrator and author but err a-


NP: Ohhhh. Just before the whistle went, you erred. Yes.

SF: D'oh!

NP: Nish, you got in first.

NK: Hesitation.

SF: Yes. No question.

NP: And you got in with two seconds to go. [AUDIENCE OOOHS] Not popular!

JE: Can't blow it.

NP: It doesn't matter. I'm sure you've got something to say in two seconds The Tale of Peter Rabbit, starting now.

NK: The Tale of Peter Rabbit-


NP: So, Nish, our second-time player of the game got a point for speaking as the whistle went and he's moved forward. He's taken the lead, one ahead of Stephen Fry. And Nish, we're back with you to begin, and the subject now is My First Love. Can you tell us something about that- who said 'Ahh'?

JL: I did.

NP: Oh.

JE: She's still waiting.

JL: It's true, actually.

SF: Oooh no!

NP: Oooooh. I don't know who was saying 'Ah' for. Anyway, My First Love is the subject, Nish. Sixty seconds, starting now.

NK: My first love was an unusual lass. Her name: Buffy Summers. Her occupation: vampire slayer. She lived in Sunnydale, a town - whilst fictional - was lovely and sunny. She was-


NP: Jenny, you challenged.

JE: Lots of hesitation, also repetition of the word 'her' twice which I let go.

NK: I was too pleased with myself that I got 'Sunnydale' and 'sunny' in and I was sort of hoping that someone was going to- but then I looked like an absolute idiot.

NP: Jenny, you got in first for his hesitation and you have forty-three seconds available. My First Love, starting now.

JE: My first love appeared on a screen in front of my eyes when I was eight years old, and recently returned after four years in Berlin where


NP: Josie challenged.

JL: Repetition of 'years'.

NP: Oh, yes.

JE: 'Eight years' and 'years'. Yes, you're absolutely right.

NK: Well spotted!

JE: Oh!

NP: Well spotted.

JE: Oh!

JL: Well, seeing as I've never been in love, I've got absolutely nothing to say. I'll have to make something up.

NP: You're too modest, darling. I think a lot of viewers and people in the theatre have fallen in love with you across the footlights, I'm sure.

JL: Yeah, whatever.

NP: Well, if I wasn't otherwise promised, you could be one of my loves. Ah, thirty-four seconds available for you, Josie. My First Love, starting now.

JL: Actually, my first love was a young lad in primary school called Kenneth Barnsley and I loved him because he gave me a purse. On one side it was suede and on the otherrrr it-


NP: Ahhh. Jenny challenged.

JE: Repetition. Not repetition. Sorry. I've used the wrong. I meant it was a terrible hesitation.

NP: That's right. It was.

JL: Yes it was.

NP: Twenty-three seconds are still available, Jenny. My First Love, starting now.

JE: Top of the Pops. Seven o'clock Thursday night, who did I see? Peter Noone from Herman's Hermits. Blond and toothy, that was it: a god amongst men. All I remember doing was feeling this sensation of warmth and taking my socks off. What on earth was going on? This was even-


NP: So Jenny was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. She's moved forward. She's still in third place but she's moved. She's one ahead of Josie. And Stephen, you're in second place behind Nish Kumar who's still in the lead! So Josie, we're back with you to begin and the subject now is Plymouth Rock.

JL: Oh my lord.

NP: Tell us something about that historic place in this game starting now.

JL: The famous Plymouth Rock is not a sticky sugary stick that has the word 'Plymouth' going through it, or a band that does the pubs around Plymouth and plays heavy metal. No, the fro-blum-


NP: Stephen-

JL: I nearly said a swear word.

SF: You tried to avoid 'famous' again- there was a bit of a-

JL: I know.

NP: So, Stephen, you got in first.

JE: It's not that famous. I've never heard of it.

JL: Oh, I've heard of it. But I can't tell you now. Because of Stephen.

NP: We'll find out from Stephen. He probably knows. Forty-five seconds. Plymouth Rock, Stephen starting now.

SF: The verse to 'Anything Goes' by Cole Porter begins: In times have changed and the Puritans landing on Plymouth Rock - ah - it landed on them.

NP: Oh, Nish challenged.

NK: 'Ah'. Hesitation?

NP: Yeah, yes. And he landed, didn't he?

NK: Yeah.

SF: Oh really? I'm sorry.

NP: I'll give you the hesitation and give you thirty-six seconds if you need it. Plymouth Rock, Nish, starting now.

NK: I don't know anything about Plymouth Rock! But what I do want to say is I cannot believe I'm leading so far.


NP: Ah- you're not leading now. Jenny, you challenged first.

JE: I could walk into that gap - and I'm a big girl!

NP: So - hesitation. Jenny, you have twenty-eight seconds if you need it. Plymouth Rock, starting now.

JE: I know nothing about Plymouth Rock. But I know Plymouth rocks.


NP: Oh no. Stephen challenged.

SF: Two 'knows'. I know nothing, but I know.

NP: I know. I know.

JE: Oh, yeah. I'm very glad.

NP: Stephen. Twenty-four seconds. Tell us something more about Plymouth Rock starting now.

SF: Well, there's an argument that Plymouth Rock is a recent addition to the mythology of the Mayflower and the arrival of the Puritans in America in seventeenth century. It's in Massachusetts. There is a museum which has a piece of it. I've touched it myself making a programme on the subject in the United States, as it happens. Americans have this view of the Plymouth business as being somehow very much a part of who they are and what they're-


NP: So, Stephen Fry was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point and he's now moved forward and he's now one ahead of our previous leader, Nish Kimar-

NK: [whines] Hubris. Thy name is Kumar.

NP: - and quite a few ahead of Josie Lawrence and Jenny Eclair. And Stephen, we're back with you to begin. The subject - a very simple one - The Fish Finger. So if you want to write it down, that's fine. The Fish Finger, sixty seconds, starting now.

SF: Well, I believe these entered the British kitchen around about the 1950s. Cod, plaice, haddock, gurnard: those sorts of white fish were the constituents of something that I have to confess I've never actually enjoyed or tasted. I know you'll hate me. It's the same with brown sauce-


NP: Who's challenged? Jenny. Yes.

JE: Deviation. How does he know he doesn't like them if he hasn't tasted one?

SF: Who doesn't like them?

JE: You said, "I don't like them and I haven't even tasted them"-

SF: I don't like the look of them. They look horrible. I just don't like them. They look greasy and unpleasant-

NP: You didn't establish that.

SF: I didn't have time! Someone pressed a buzzer. It's most annoying. I don't like them and I've never tasted them and I don't want to because - the reason I don't like them is because how disgusting they look-

JE: (Speaking over SF) He's talking himself out of it again, Nicholas. He did this last time. Do you remember?

SF: Listen. I know. I throw myself on the mercy of the court.

JL: I understand. I don't like hanging out of a tall building, but I've never tried it.

SF: You've never done it. Exactly.

NP: Why are you supporting him?

JL: I have no idea.

JE? Chivalry, see?

NP: Stephen, I think I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to Jenny.

SF: Yes.

JL: Yes.

NP: I think you did convey what you were saying-

SF: Yes. She needs a good patronising.

NP: - that you didn't like it. But you, you were talking about tasting all the time and then said you didn't like them, so it's logical that we should have thought 'Well, if he doesn't like them how could he have tasted them all?'

SF: Hmmm

NP: So, Jenny. Benefit of the doubt.

JE: Check.

NP: A point to you. Forty-one seconds. The Fish Finger. Starting now.

JE: One of the compensations of motherhood is hoovering up your children's cold leftover fish fingers. There is nothing more delicious. It is ambrosia from the gods. Pallid, sloppy, with tomato ketchup. Couple of peas stuck on the top. Oh yes! In fact I have snatched fish fingers from the mouths of my child-


NP: Josie Lawrence. You've challenged.

JL: Now, I'm going to be naughty here. Was it 'The Fish Finger' or 'Fish Fingers'?

NP: It is - the subject is 'The Fish Finger'

JL: It's a repetition of 'fingers'.

SF: Ooooh.

NP: Yes!

JE: Ahh!

SF: Nuanced-

NP: The subject is 'The Fish Finger'-

SF: - challenge.

NP: - and you were talking about fish fingers.

JE: How dare I?

NP: So you were repeating it.

JE: I did.

NP: And Josie was listening well, so she's got in with a point, of course. And fifteen seconds available. The Fish Finger, Josie. Starting now.

JL: I love the fish finger, especially between two pieces of white bread. Used to live on it, when I was a student. Also my friend had a really good recipe for fish finger pie which basically involved-


NP: So, Josie Lawrence was speaking when the whistle went, gained that extra point, and she has moved forward. She's still in fourth place, but she's moved. But she's only one point behind Jenny, and she's only two points behind Nish, and three points behind Stephen. And we're back with you, Jenny, to begin. And another erudite subject: Pride and Prejudice. Sixty seconds starting now.

JE: Written, of course, by Jane Austen. This has been turned from book to film and TV series. Unfortunately I get confused between these genres. I know it's about five Bennet girls who all need marrying off. Their mother's desperate to get these girls off her hands-


JE: - I know, yes-

NP: Stephen.

JE: - girls.

SF: Girls, I'm afraid, yes.

NP: Yes, there were a lot of girls in Pride and Prejudice but you can't-

JE: All with a heaving bosom. Yes.

NP: Only in the film. Right. Thirty-seven seconds, Stephen. You got in with a correct challenge. So you have a point. You have the subject of Pride and Prejudice starting now.

SF: It is, I think, a testament to the extraordinary quality of Jane Austen's writing that ask people what Darcy looks like and they'll all say he's dark. She never describes him physically at all - it's something to do with his character. The novel was first written as an epistolary book rather like Sense and Sensibility, her first published work. And then she called it First Impressions - a good title, but not as good as Pride and Prejudice. That's the one that lives on, isn't it? For many people the book they would take to their - you know - desert island - that sort of place because it somehow it's the first book that really-

NP: Ooh, Josie challenged.

JL: I'm so sorry. Repetition of 'book'.

SF: Book, you're right. Yeah.

NP: Yes, right. And so a correct challenge, Josie. You've got in with five seconds to go. Pride and Prejudice, starting now.

JL: Why did Jane Austen call it 'Pride and Prejudice'? Well, Darcy was ob-


NP: So, I've just had a message that we're moving into the final round-

[SF croaks. Audience goes Awwww]

NP: Oh, you're a lovely audience. At this particular moment as we move into the final round let me tell you it's very very close. They've all got lots of points. Jenny's only just in fourth place, one point behind Josie Lawrence who's one point behind Nish Kumar and he's two points behind Stephen Fry. And Nish, it's your turn to begin. And the subject now is a lovely subject. A Penny For Your Thoughts. Tell us something about that phrase in this game starting now.

NK: A Penny For Your Thoughts. For your thoughts, a penny. Penny thoughts for your.


NK: Can I buzz myself?

NP: You can. So you buzzed yourself. What's your challenge?

NK: Absolute nonsense.

NP: Careful. You can talk nonsense in this show but if you hesitate- So you did hesitate, didn't you?

NK: I did hesitate. Even I couldn't believe those words were coming out of my own face.

NP: So, Nish-

NK: Yeah.

NP: That was-

NK: So have I successfully challenged myself?

NP: Yes. You've challenged yourself.

NK: This is incredible.

NP: It's not a thing we-

SF: It's a flaw.

NK: It's like Doctor Strangelove.

NP: It's not a thing we encourage, but it's a correct challenge-

JE: And he gets a point!

NP: So I give you a point for a correct challenge and say 'Well listened.' And you have forty-nine seconds if you want it. And I'd try a different tack this time. A penny for your thoughts, starting now.

NK: A penny for your thoughts, my dear mother, as you sit here listening to me talk absolute nonsense on Radio 4's Just A Minute, broadcast on the double-B-C.


NP: Stephen.

SF: Such a brilliant avoidance of repeating 'B' that he then fell silent into a hesitation.

NP: I know- Just before the show we warned them one of the errors that often the first people step into is they use the word 'BBC' because it's so natural, and you are repeating 'B'. So they warned Nish about this before the show, so he gets there and of course he pauses-

NK: So proud.

NP: So Stephen, you challenged first. Hesitation. There are thirty-seven seconds, Stephen. A Penny For Your Thoughts, starting now.

SF: Well a friend of mine who used to write scripts for Coronation Street once told me that if he didn't know how to begin a scene, a great way to do so was to have Bett or someone else at the bar to say to her cohort, "A penny for them, my love" and she'd go "What?". "Your thoughts." And she'd go, "I'm sorry, chuck. I were miles away." And they actually have about twenty scenes that begin exactly like that in that particular series. Something that-


NP: Jenny challenged.

JE: 'Begin' twice.

NP: Yes.

SF: Nice.

NP: Yes, right. So, Jenny. You got in with a correct challenge and there are thirteen seconds still available. A Penny For Your Thoughts, starting now.

JE: There is nothing more annoying than somebody interrupting your thought process and saying, "A penny for your thoughts." At this point I want to say, "Do you know what? At this point I'm thinking, 'You're a really-'"


NP: So let me give you the final score. Oh it's all so close. They're all so talented and so funny. Right. But in fourth place was Josie Lawrence and she's one point behind Jenny Eclair who's one point behind Nish Kumar, and he was one point behind Stephen Fry so we say Stephen you are the winner this week. Ooh! So it only remains for me to say thank you to these fine players of the game - Stephen Fry, Josie Lawrence, Nish Kumar and Jenny Eclair. I thank Hayley Sterling who's helped me with the score. She's blown her whistle beautifully. And we're indebted to our producer, Victoria Lloyd and we're deeply indebted to Ian Messiter who created this amazing game. We're indebted to this lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre who've cheered us on our way magnificently. So from our audience, from me Nicholas Parsons and the team, goodbye and thank you and tune in again when we play Just A Minute!