NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Hello my name is Nicholas Parsons. And once again it is my pleasure as the Minute Waltz fades away to welcome our listeners throughout the world, and also the four dynamic, diverse and daring players of the game who are going to compete this week. We welcome back three long-time players of the game, that is Paul Merton, Peter Jones, and Clement Freud, and someone who has not played it quite so often, that is Stephen Fry. Would you please welcome all four of them! And as usual I am going to ask them to speak on a subject I will give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviating from that subject. Beside me sits Jane Gibson who's going to help me keep the score and she'll blow her whistle when 60 seconds are up. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the Radio Theatre in the heart of Broadcasting House, not very far from the centre of the great metropolis of London. So let's start the show today with Stephen Fry, and who better? Stephen, the novel inside me, talk on the subject if you can, starting now.

STEPHEN FRY: Well the novel inside me, oddly enough is David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens, which I ate by mistake only yesterday. Ah I erred...


NP: And you've been challenged already by Clement Freud.

CLEMENT FREUD: For erring!

NP: Sorry, I didn't hear that comment.

CF: He hesitated.

NP: I don't think you hesitated...

CF: I thought you said I erred?

SF: And that is a hesitation!

NP: Oh sorry!

PAUL MERTON: What was it that you heard?

NP: What a clever idea, Clement Freud, a brilliant, a brilliant challenge. But he erred, but he didn't actually say er! Actually I consider it an incorrect challenge so Stephen you have a point for an incorrect challenge. Stephen I wish you to go on this subject because you still have 51 seconds available, the novel inside me starting now.

SF: The novel Inside Me was written by Dame Cecime Halver in 1942. Inside Me was the title she used because it was actually a kind of survey of life that goes on within the human body of an aging female nuvellist. It was not a good read...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: Nuvellist?

SF: It's the same as saying Muntgumery and...

NP: Paul you have a correct challenge, a point for that of course, 37 seconds are available, the novel inside me, starting now.

PM: It was once said by somebody, Julian Critchley I think, that everybody has at least one good novel in them, apart from Jeffrey Archer! And he was referring of course to the fact that the esteemed gentleman has written many books which...


NP: Stephen Fry.

SF: Name one person who esteems Jeffrey Archer!

PM: Jeffrey Archer!

SF: Ah damn! You've done it!

NP: Paul another point to you with 23 seconds, the novel inside me starting now.

PM: I'm going to write the great novel one day when I'm old enough...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of great.

NP: Yes you did mention the word great before Paul, so that is repetition. Why are you so surprised?

SF: He's very like me and knows it was actually the word good he said before. One person has at least one good novel inside them.

NP: I'm going to give the benfit of the doubt to you Paul and say you still have the subject, 19 seconds available, the novel inside me, starting now.

PM: I'll have to be a wonderful age before I put pen to paper. I would have had to experienced life to the full before I would even dare to sit...


NP: Clement Freud has challenged.

CF: Repetition of before.

NP: Before, that was definitely a repetition.

PM: I said before before!

NP: Clement you at last got in, 10 seconds are available, the novel inside me, starting now.

CF: I've just come back from a Greek Island where I spent three weeks finishing my novel. I'm a very slow reader.



NP: No Stephen challenged just before the whistle.

SF: He's a very slow talker as well!

NP: Yes! Well actually he was waiting for the laugh which didn't actually come! Half a second on the subject of the novel inside me starting now.

SF: The novel inside me is...


NP: Whoever is speaking as the whistle goes gains an extra point, and on this occasion it was Stephen Fry so he has taken a strong lead at the end of that round. Peter will you take the next round, the subject is wearing my other hat. Can you tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.

PETER JONES: My other hat is a Norfolk tweed hat, with a very round crown. And it's a lovely looking hat, and when I put it on I feel the need to stride across the Downs or the Broads or wherever I am, well, not in the water of course... Anyway, I like to feel the wind blowing through. There's a little hole... and the wind, you know, it dries one's hair and everything. And it's a terrific er headpiece, and I look forward to wearing it very soon... again...


NP: Paul Merton you challenged.

PM: A natural conclusion!

NP: A natural conclusion. Paul you had a correct challenge, you have 13 seconds on wearing my other hat starting now.

PM: I would be wearing my other hat but I recently lent it to Peter Jones. And when I phoned him up and asked for it back, he said "I'm awfully sorry, there's a hole right in the middle of it". In fact it had been ruined by him. This is the last time that I lend such an item to this particular...


NP: Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point, and he's gone into the lead now, ahead of Stephen Fry. But Clement it's your turn to begin, the subject is loudspeakers. Will you tell us something about loudspeakers in Just A Minute starting now.

CF: I think the loudest speaker that I ever came across in my political life was Ian Paisley. (in Ian Paisley voice) Mr Speaker, sir, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is a liar! (normal voice) At which the person in the chair would say "order" and repeat that word that I can't do because basically what happens in...


NP: Paul you challenged first, hesitation, 37 seconds available, loud speakers starting now.

PM: Loudspeakers of course are an integral part of any hi-fi system. I have a particularly fine pair of loudspeakers at home. I've got very interested in music over the last few years because a very good musical web (starts to giggle)


NP: Stephen you got in first then, yes, we call that hesitation, 24 seconds, loudspeakers, with you starting now.

SF: (shouts) Are very annoying indeed and can bend the needle of a...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Pardon?

NP: Paul we give you a bonus point because we enjoyed the interruption, but it wasn't a challenge within the rules of Just A Minute. So Stephen for being interrupted you get another point, you have 20 seconds available still, loudspeakers, starting now.

SF: I hardly know enough on the subject to discourse for such a length, but nonetheless. Leek is a make of loudspeaker as is Bearvision or Bear er...


SF: Dear oh dear!

NP: Clement you challenged.

CF: Repetition.

NP: Yes right! Do you want to say what it was?

CF: No.

NP: All right! Thirteen seconds, loudspeakers, with you Clement starting now.

CF: It's very odd that Arthur Scargill, Derek Hatton, the more left wing the person is, the more loudly does he or she...


NP: Paul you challenged.

PM: Two mores.

NP: Two mores there were indeed. Five seconds is still available on loudspeakers, it's with you Paul starting now.

PM: (shouts) I want to make this point very clear to everybody here today. I want to say to you that undoubtedly...


NP: So Paul Merton got points in the round as well as one for speaking as the whistle went and he's gone into the lead alongside Stephen Fry. And Stephen Fry it's your turn to begin, the subject is lottery. Tell us something about the lottery starting now.

SF: Oh lottery, lottery, I, I've never bought a lottery ticket. I suppose I should have done...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Er, repetition.

NP: Of what?

PJ: Lottery!

NP: I know, it was repeated. Peter I know you've only been playing the game for 34 years, but you are actually allowed to repeat the subject which is on the card.

PJ: But I am improving!

NP: So I'm going to give you a bonus point because you were interrupted and came out with a delightful remark...

PJ: Yes, do that!

NP: A bonus point for that, in fact it's the first one that you've got today actually. But your contribution is invaluable, keep it up!

PJ: Right!

NP: Well done!

PJ: Thank you very much!

NP: Lottery is on the card and 56 seconds, with you Stephen, lottery starting now.

SF: I think it was Cecil Rhodes who said "to be born English is to have drawn first prize in the lottery of life". Many people would disagree, particularly the Scots, Welsh and Irish, no doubt. However as I was saying earlier I've never actually bought a lottery voucher or token or other word that I can't repeat. If I were to do so, no doubt I might then put myself in the frame for wearing a fair old slice of cash. Because huge amounts of money are offered as prizes for those who do go to a shop, and in exchange for simolians purchase such a...


SF: Oh! Oooh! Eeeh! Ahh!

NP: Yes!

PM: I'm lost here!

NP: I know!

PM: In exchange for simolians?

NP: Simolians! Yes!

PM: What's that?

SF: Money, yes, an unusual word for money, I grant you!

NP: Is it?

SF: But I'd used most of the others or at least couldn't think of any more. Mizoola I should have said probably.

NP: Mizoola yeah, I don't think simolians is sufficiently... especially, we're going to get letters from India...

SF: Yeah we should cater for the general ignorance of the British...

NP: No!

SF: That's the way the BBC's going isn't it! Assume everybody's stupid!

NP: No it's...

SF: And just have words of two syllables and no more because the great British public are all idiots aren't they! They're all idiots apparently!

NP: Fry, Fry, do contain yourself!

SF: Sorry! Sorry, I just get really angry! It's dumb down, it's just relentless and remorseless and now it's hit this great intellectual showcase!

NP: So Paul I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say you've got 26 seconds. Tell us something about lottery starting now.

PM: Like Stephen, I've never actually bought a lottery ticket. The thing doesn't appeal to me. But...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Hesitation.

NP: Yes, hesitation Clement, 21 seconds, lottery with you starting now.

CF: I think... to...


NP: Paul?

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Hesitation, Paul, yes, there was, yes, 18 seconds, lottery starting now.

PM: I remember being in this opium den just outside Wolvenstowe when I realised the man at my elbow was going to throw the dice onto the floor. I thought "is he going to put all his money on this lastthrow?" Is he...


PM: Aaaah!

NP: Clement? What's your challenge?

CF: Throw.

NP: Clement you have a correct challenge, four seconds, lottery starting now.

CF: It's not only money that you get for winning, there are lotteries where Ann Widdicombe...


NP: So Clement Freud was then speaking as the whistle went. And it's Peter Jones' turn to begin. Peter the subject I have here is timetables. Will you tell us something about them in Just A Minute starting now.

PJ: They can be very interesting reading. And quite stimulating if you're lying in the garden in a long chair and er you have a drink in one hand and a timetable in another, you can work out journeys, particularly if you're at the seaside, and you can plan how to get home. Er...


PJ: ... quite soon and you have to change at Crewe usually and er...

NP: Peter sorry to interrupt you but...

PJ: That's all right!

NP: Paul Merton has challenged you.

PJ: I didn't hear him.

PM: I thought there was a very slight hesitation.

CF: No!

PM: I may be wrong.

NP: There was!

CF: Boo! Boo!

NP: Did you bring all the audience in, Peter? Or some of them? They're certainly on your side! The audience would like to hear more from Peter on...

PM: That's fine, I was probably completely wrong!

NP: You've got the benefit of the doubt on that one Peter, and you keep timetables, having an incorrect challenge, of course a point for that, and 36 seconds starting now.

PJ: I can change the venue to a er ship on the ah sea when you are on a cruise and you can work out what time the vessel will arrive in New York or ah Jamaica or somewhere else, if you like. But you're usually wrong because the shipping companies don't adhere to any particular timetable or time. That's not the word, is it?

NP: I'd challenge yourself Peter!


NP: And you've done exactly that Peter. What's your challenge? Hesitation?

PJ: Yes.

NP: Yes I thought so. You did er a bit in there. So that's a correct challenge, well listened. And you got in very cleverly Peter with a correct challenge, a point for that of course, with three seconds to go on the subject...

PM: So does he get a bonus point for his challenge?

NP: Almost yes! But gird your loins for another three seconds and go on the subject of timetables starting now.

PJ: And it stops at Crewe from two to two Tube...


NP: Actually Peter you could have challenged yourself again for Crewe because you said that before, you repeated it.

PJ: Yes I did.

NP: You slipped up there, you missed out on that one.

PJ: Yes, I thought they'd changed the name somehow, I don't know.

NP: Right well anyway you've done very well, a lot of points in that round and including one for speaking as the whistle went. You're still in fourth place but a very strong fourth place! And who begins the next round, it is Paul Merton, ah, the green eyed monster. Tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

PM: When I was growing up I was convinced there was a green eyed monster in my bedroom. He would wander around the bed once I was asleep. I think he lived in the wardrobe. And I would open the door and try to see if he was hiding in the darker recesses of that particular piece of furniture, but could never quite catch him. I became certain that he was following me around during the day, always five steps behind me. I would turn and he would disappear! How do I know this monster had green eyes? Because all monsters have green eyes! That is where they come from, the land of the green eyed monsters! You can be walking through the dark streets of London...


NP: Ah Stephen Fry you challenged.

SF: Apart from being just absolutely scared out of my wits, he did repeat dark.

NP: What was that?

SF: Dark came twice.

NP: It did come twice. Yes what a pity, I was really enthralled there!

SF: Oh I'm sorry!

PM: Were you really?

NP: I really was, I was fascinated, I must er, you should tell these bedtime stories, I bet the children find them...

PM: Well if I ever see you around about bedtime I will Nicholas! I don't think...

SF: It's very unlikely to happen again!

NP: How do you know what Paul and I do at bedtime? Right, 16 seconds, yes, repetition there um Stephen and it's the green eyed monster, 16 seconds, with you, starting now.

SF: Described as jealousy of course in Shakespeare's Othello that feeds upon itself and mocks the meek that feeds it, or something similar to that, I can't quite remember the quotation, of course. But never mind, that's not in itself an offence, I hope. It's an awful thing, jealousy...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: He couldn't remember the quotation! And that's an offence!

NP: He was, he was deviating from the green eyed monster, and going on to not remembering quotations...

PM: That's right!

NP: I would call that deviation.

PM: That could have been me saying that Nicholas!

NP: I didn't hear, trouble is...

PM: Oh by the way you left your cocoa under the bed last night!

NP: I'm sure you drank it Paul!

PM: No I didn't, it had your teeth in it!

NP: But where were we? There's four seconds available, it's the green eyed monster and it's with you Paul starting now.

PM: Many years ago I remember a particular incident when I was walking through a fun fair...


NP: That time Paul Merton speaking as the whistle went gained that extra point, he's still just in the lead ahead of Stephen Fry. And Stephen it's your turn to begin. I think it's your turn, let me check on this, yes it is. Oh the subject, house mats. I don't know what Ian Messiter's mind is thinking of here... No it isn't, I've misread it.

PM: It's actually Copenhagen!

NP: Yes! Stephen your turn to begin, the subject is mouse mats.

SF: You're sure it's not mouse hats?

NP: No, no, no, it's mouse mats and it's a subject which has obviously got a huge response from the audience because they roared with laughter. But would you take the subject and talk on it, for 60 seconds if you can, starting now.

SF: Well of course the term really derives from the Parallels Research Centre in California where the Winps environment was devised, windows, icons, mice and pulldown menus for computers. The mouse is a pointing device used for the GUI or the Graphic User Interface of the common personal or the nateur as the French like to call these digital devices. The mouse mat itself can come nowadays in all kinds of beautifully illustrated forms and shapes. I have one for example which has a scene from Judy Garland's wonderful film The Wizard of Oz. Other people who are slightly less camp might have perhaps um Schwarzenegger, people like that. You can have any number of scenes...


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: There was a repetition of people.

NP: There was a repetition of people.

SF: Oh right, sorry!

NP: Yes, it is difficult to hear because for the first time, I must tell our audience and must explain to our listeners. Normally they put their desks quite close so they can all hear. But for some reason they put them right at the further side of the stage so it's difficult for them to hear...

PM: This is going to make great radio!

NP: I know! I realised after I'd started I was digging myself a hole I was never going to get out of!

SF: You left your hearing aid next to the mug of cocoa obviously!

NP: Right Paul you have a correct challenge on repetition...

PJ: And you couldn't see too well when you were reading mouse and house!

SF: Have you got a sensory organ left Nicholas?

PM: Do you know where you are?

NP: Indeed I do!

PJ: We had a theatrical landlady once who was 92...

NP: Yeah?

PJ: And I said "my word, you're operating terribly well". She said "well thank goodness I still have all my marbles up here, you know, and nothing really escapes me". I said "is that a fact?" She said "oh yes, touch wood". (knocks on desk) "Come in."

NP: Peter Jones you can come in whenever you want to! And if we give you a bonus point for that, and anyone want to top it, they get another bonus point. But it was a repetition of people, and it's 25 seconds for you Paul, on house... I did it again! Mouse mats, starting now.

PM: I have several mice at home and I look after them very well. They tend to leave the house round about half past 11 in the evening and come back about half past...


PM: I could have said any other time!

NP: That's the way the mind goes on occasions! Clem... Stephen you got in first on mouse mats and 14 seconds are available starting now.

SF: The idea being of course that you simply drag your mouse across the surface of the mat and it gives kind of fluency and fluidity to the motion which allows the pointing device afore mentioned to register clearly on the screen. However some mouse mats...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: We've had a screen.

NP: You had a screen before.

SF: Oh did we, I'm sorry.

NP: Oh don't apologise, it's part of the game!

SF: No I shouldn't, I should be sorry, it's not right, I should play properly, I shouldn't repeat words, and if I do, I should apologise and say sorry like a man.

NP: If you apologise for the fact...

SF: Or as close to it as I can get!

NP: Clement yes a correct challenge and you've got in very cleverly with one second to go...

PM: Very fickle crowd! Very fickle!

NP: You had them in the palm of your hand, you suddenly lost them! But you have one second on mouse mats starting now.

CF: If you can train a mouse to use a mat...


NP: So we've got an interesting situation points worse as Clement got another point there and they're very very close, only one point separates our three leaders, Clement Freud, Paul Merton and Stephen Fry in that order. Peter Jones just behind them. Paul it's your turn to begin and the subject, I'm going to get this right, it's housekeeping.

PM: You sure it's not mouse keeping?

NP: No it's not mouse keeping.

PM: It's not mouse kipping?

NP: No, no, no. I will have to say in my defence that the subjects have not been typed onto the cards in front of me...

PM: You've been reading hand writing?

NP: Hand writing, yes. I've been reading hand writing.

PM: My respect for you has gone through the roof!

NP: Housekeeping, Paul, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

PM: I believe it was one of the Gabor sisters, Zsa ditto, who said "I am a wonderful housekeeper, whenever I get divorced I keep the house". This was a joke of hers and of course it's not exactly what we mean by the term of housekeeper. There are particularly in this day and age (starts to laugh)


NP: Stephen Fry.

SF: Did it count as hesitation, I don't know.

NP: Yes that would, yes, yes, let's hear from you on housekeeping, Stephen, starting... oh and the number of seconds, 39 starting now.

SF: Mrs Danvers' one of the great housekeepers I think, from Daphne DeMaurier's novel, Rebecca. Chateaudemme is a rather nice French word for housekeeper. You picture the keys don't you on the apron, this proud woman haunting the corridors of the great house with marvelous sort of aprons and things like that. And I also picture sometimes great sorts of linen presses, don't you...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of great.

NP: Yes there were too many greats.

SF: I know it's just feeble isn't it. I'm so sorry.

NP: Clement, 20 seconds, tell us something about housekeeping starting now.

CF: Housekeeping is a word you very often find on telephones in hotels. There is ah waiting, room service...


NP: Stephen Fry challenged.

SF: I think there was a hesitation there.

NP: There was an er, yes, Stephen you got it back...

SF: Sorry about that!

NP: Twelve seconds, housekeeping starting now.

CF: A slight stop between two words!


NP: And Peter you challenged.

PJ: Did I?

NP: Oh...

SF: Nurse! He's out of bed again!

NP: Would you like Peter to just finish...

PM: Well I was challenging on Peter's behalf.

NP: You were? Oh right! You were challenging on Peter's behalf, they're all three equal and they'd love to hear from you on housekeeping Peter with 11 seconds to go starting now.

PJ: It's a very important thing to learn. Because if you don't things get rather sticky and unpleasant. And if you read the Sunday supplements you realise...


NP: Peter Jones speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. He has leapt forward, but he is still trailing the other three, they are equal now in the lead. And this is going to be the last round because we have no more time. And Clement Freud it's your turn to begin, the subject is counting sheep. Tell us something about that as we go into the last round, 60 seconds as usual starting now.

CF: Counting sheep is something people do in order to induce sleep. And depending on who they are, they count sheep in different ways. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 would be a method. But I as a gastronome and cook tend to count sheep by the constituent parts thereof. Right, left, high, low, buttock, rump, eye, genitalia...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Well this is deviation surely. You go to sleep by counting sheep's buttocks? Surely that!

NP: Well I suppose you could go to sleep, it wouldn't put you to sleep, it wouldn't put me to sleep, but I mean...

PM: I know that Nicholas! Who better indeed? If I don't, who does!

NP: Oh we're back to the cocoa again! Right, I mean , lets to be fair to Clement, I suppose you can use any method you like if it does induce sleep and that's, according to him, is what induces sleep in him. So I think I have to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he has 32 seconds, counting sheep, starting now.

CF: Mutton is a very good thing to count, but...


NP: Stephen Fry challenged.

SF: You could drive a small flock of sheep through that pause I felt.

NP: You don't need to rub it in!

SF: Oh sorry! Trying to be apropos!

NP: It was a pause so Stephen you have the subject, 27 seconds, counting sheep, starting now.

SF: I could actually quote exactly what Peter Jones said in the last round. It's an important thing to do, otherwise things get sticky and unpleasant as he said of housekeeping. So I count sheep in order to get to sleep too, in order to prevent a certain unpleasantness...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: He's using my material!

NP: That's the wicked thing about Just A Minute, you can use everybody's material as long as you don't repeat it in the round. So what is your challenge within the rules of Just A Minute?

PJ: Um, deviation!

NP: Why? Because he was using your material?

PJ: Yes!

NP: Right! Oh I must be fair to Stephen on this occasion, but we did, a bonus point...

PJ: On this occasion, you're going to be... quite!

NP: No we give you a bonus point because we enjoyed the challenge Peter, and Stephen has got 17 seconds counting sheep, starting now.

SF: Very difficult thing to do of course, because they look so similar. Very hard to carry on repeating...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

SF: Very, very, very, very!

NP: Your challenge?

CF: Hesitation.

NP: Yes there was a hesitation yes.

SF: Oh? I repeated very as well!

NP: I know but that was after he pressed his buzzer!

SF: I want that to be taken into consideration!

NP: I can't give him two points! One point, 12 seconds available, counting sheep Clement, starting now.

CF: Counting sheep makes it essential to appreciate the colour of the animal in question, blue, green, yellow, red...


NP: Stephen challenged.

SF: I think, I'm allowed to make a list once, but another list is just too much!

NP: Clement, no, if he lists it's not a sin within the rules of Just A Minute. So you weren't deviating Clement and you have two seconds to keep going on counting sheep starting now.

CF: Counting the sheep on the far side...


NP: Clement Freud was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. And as I said earlier on this is to be the last round. Let me just tell you the final situation. Peter Jones who did magnificently as usual, he did just finish in fourth place. He wasn't far behind Paul Merton. And three points ahead of Paul, equal in the lead were Clement Freud and Stephen Fry, so we say this week they are our winners! It only remains for me to say thank you to our four outstanding players of the game, Stephen Fry, Peter Jones, Paul Merton and Clement Freud. We thank them, we thank Jane Gibson for keeping the score, and also Ian Messiter who created the game and keeps us in work, and our producer director Chris Neil. On behalf of them, and we thank our audience who come in here to the Radio Theatre in London for joining us and egging us on our way. From them, from me, Nicholas Parsons, tune in next time we play Just A Minute. Till then from all of us goodbye.