starring PAUL MERTON, CLEMENT FREUD, PETER JONES and TONY HAWKS, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Radio, 22 February 1999)

NICHOLAS PARSONS: Welcome to Just A Minute!


NP: Hello my name is Nicholas Parsons. And as the Minute Waltz fades away once more it is my pleasure to welcome not only our loyal and faithful listeners throughout the world, but also our loyal and faithful performers in this game who have joined us this week to participate. We welcome back four of the outstanding players of the game. The delightful Paul Merton, the equally entertaining and spontaneous Tony Hawks, and two different generation of comedy performers. A wonderful actor performer and comedy player Peter Jones, and also a great humorist, wit and raconteur Clement Freud. Would you please welcome all four of them! And as usual I am going to ask them to speak on the subject that I will give them and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition or deviating from that subject. Beside me sits Jane Gibson whoís going to help me keep the score. She has a stopwatch here which she will hold for me and she will blow a whistle when the 60 seconds are up. And this particular edition of Just A Minute is coming from the BBC Radio Theatre in the centre of Broadcasting House which is in the heart of our great capital city of London. Paul Merton will you begin the show this week, the subject is the secret mission. Tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

PAUL MERTON: Many years ago I was given a secret mission by the British Government that I had to make my way to Prague in Czechoslovakia, hide underneath a shoe box for several days, and make contact with a gentleman who I knew only as Donald. He approached me one late afternoon, the rain was streaming down the window. As I looked out, because I put a window in the shoe box! I donít care!


PM: I knew I was going to say window and shoe box there, but I was bored!

NP: But Tony Hawks you challenged first.

TONY HAWKS: Ah repetition of window.

NP: Yes he repaired the word window. And he was a little bit bored so he threw in a repetition. And you have a correct challenge, you get a point for that of course Tony. You take over the subject which is the secret mission, 35 seconds are available starting now.

TH: They have a lot of secret missions in Mission Impossible. And they always say ďyour mission, should you choose to acceptĒ and they never refuse it! I want them to say I...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: He refuses loads of them, but they wouldnít make very good television programmes! A man walks into a phone box, listens to a tape recorder, decides not to do the job, thereís not an hourís worth of television in that. They only show you the ones they do, because otherwise it would be a waste of time!

TH: Well thatís my minute gone! Thatís what I was going to bloody talk about!

NP: I donít think that was strictly deviating within the rules of Just A Minute. Paul I canít agree with the challenge so Tony you have another point, another um and you carry on with the subject, 24 seconds available starting now.

TH: I have a secret mission tonight which I canít tell you about, because if I did it wouldnít be a secret. And technically I would be deviating from the subject. And Lordy, thatís the last thing I want to do. Instead...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CLEMENT FREUD: Tell us what the first thing youíd want to do!

TH: Well it would be ah...

NP: Well I donít think you need ask that. Iíd like to know what is your challenge within the rules of Just A MInute Clement?

CF: Say good evening.

NP: Well you said it very nicely, you got a nice reaction, but Iím afraid it was an incorrect challenge. So Tony more points to you, another one, secret mission still with you and nine seconds available starting now.

TH: David and I walked up the steps to MFIís offices. I donít know why...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Buying furniture, were you?

NP: No I think I must give the benefit of the doubt to Paul Merton here. Say Paul, yes, a correct challenge, a point to you, four seconds, the secret mission starting now.

PM: There is a man in the audience from Sweden whose secret mission is to rub out Nicholas Parsons...


NP: Whoever is speaking when the whistle is blown gains an extra point for doing so. On this occasion it was Paul Merton, so at the end of this round he has got two points. Peter weíve yet to hear from you so why not take the next round. A charming one, Jabberwocky, 60 seconds starting now.

PETER JONES: Yes Lewis Carroll has always been anathema to me. I think heís a terribly boring writer. He was quite interested in punting with young girls and telling them stories, very innocently Iím sure. But they were so boring! I thought when I was seven and learning to read that if this is what ah awaits me then I donít really go on, or want to go on with it! Ah but I...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: I think there was definitely a hesitation.

PJ: A small one.

NP: Yes yes. Thirty-three seconds available, jabberwocky starting now.

PM: Jabberwocky, or as they say in Australia robber-jockey is a rider of a horse that you canít trust is going to do the best job for the stable. Itís (starts to giggle)...


PM: Thereís people trusting every word I say!

NP: Tony you challenged first.

TH: Well he just broke into laughter didnít he.

NP: Yes.

TH: And he repeated ha!

NP: We interpret that as hesitation. Right Tony, another point to you, 23 seconds, jabberwocky starting now.

TH: Jabberwocky was the first film directed by Terry Gilliam...


NP: Ah Paul Merton challenged.

PM: No it wasnít.

TH: On Thursday the 26th of February 1971!

NP: And you were there were you?

TH: Well thatís what I was going to go on to say.

PJ: Funny, that was a Tuesday!

PM: Deviation!

NP: That is a correct challenge of deviation so Paul another point to you, 18 seconds, jabberwocky starting now.

PM: I suppose whenever I hear the word jabberwocky Iím immediately taken back to those wonderful halcyon childhood days when me and Prince Philip used to travel down towards Cambridge, the dreaming spires of that beautiful city, the city where oh...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of city.

NP: The city yes. And Clement...

PM: Of city.

NP: Clement you cleverly got in with one second to go, a point for a correct challenge, jabberwocky starting now.

CF: It was brillig...


NP: Well Clement Freud was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. And he is now in second place behind our joint leaders Paul Merton and Tony Hawks. And Clement Freud itís your turn to begin, the subject is the West End. Sixty seconds as usual starting now.

CF: I suppose every city and town, even villages and hamlets have west ends. I have personally been to the west end of Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. And leaving the Australian continent, the west end of England, London, especially Mayfair which is known as the west End by those who dwell in the metropolis of England...


NP: Tony Hawks challenged.

TH: Repetition of England.

NP: Yes thatís right yes. Thirty-four seconds for you Tony on the West End starting now.

TH: We are making this recording in the wonderful Radio Theatre, not miles away from the centre of the West End in London. And after the show no doubt the five of us here will go out and drink into the night as we do after every other occasion when weíve done this. Some put pints away like nobodyís business, others decide that they want to go to Soho, I donít go along with that myself, Iíd rather see the theatre or some such thing. It really is the entertainment capital of the world, if you like. New York could be a rival but I donít think it touches the West End as we know it. Iíve been to the West End in Huddersfield...


NP: So Tony Hawks is excelling this week, and with more great style and panache. He went till the whistle went, gained that extra point fro doing so and increased his lead at the end of the round. And Tony your turn to begin, the subject is contortionist. Tell us something about that in this game starting now.

TH: Someone told me if you want to be a contortionist, it helps if you are double jointed. Because you can smoke both the joints and then you donít feel any pain as you move your body into a different position. Iím able to put my left leg behind my right ear but it is excruciatingly painful because amputation is involved. A contortionist is a gymnast or such like who moves parts of his magnificent physique into these extraordinary places. But you could be a wordsmith who twisted things, like we do on Just A Minute. Many times we have talked for 50 seconds, sometimes longer, a minute in my case, which is clearly what Iím going to do here because no-one...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: No he isnít!

NP: So...

PM: Deviation, heís deviated from contortionists and is now talking about playing Just A Minute.

NP: Exactly, deviation...

TH: For about point one of a second!

NP: So Paul I agree with the challenge, 17 seconds with you, contortionist starting now.

PM: My next door neighbour is a contortionist and he likes nothing better than looking up old friends around about the Christmas holiday. Because when you are a contortionist you can get yourself into all kinds of strange positions. In fact thatís what I meant the first time round but nobody laughed so I canít repeat it. So you get the idea if I go over the subject matter using different words...


NP: Tony Hawks has challenged just as the whistle is about to go.

TH: Well heís talking about Just A Minute and how heís not allowed to repeat things within the game.

NP: Um...

TH: Heís doing exactly what I did.

NP: You, youíve been hoisted on your own petard Paul so Tony...

PM: Have I?

NP: Yes! Within Just A Minute. And Tony Hawks has got the subject back, heís got a second to tell us more about contortionist starting now.

TH: Lulu...


NP: So Tony Hawks speaking...

PM: Repetition of Lu!

TH: Too late now!

NP: Too late now. And Tony you were speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point. Youíre one ahead of Paul Merton and two ahead of Peter Jones and four ahead of Clement Freud. That is the situation as we move into the next round which is Paul Mertonís turn to begin. Oh Paul what are you going to say about this, I wonder. The rudest person I ever met. Oh theyíre giggling already! Sixty seconds starting now.

PM: Well people like me generally so they arenít particularly rude to me. I suppose we do find rudeness. Some people say cab drivers are...


NP: Tony Hawks.

TH: Repetition of people.

NP: Yes Iím afraid there were more people, it came in more than once. So Tony well listened, youíve got in with 52 seconds still, the rudest person I ever met starting now.

TH: The rudest person I ever met was Fidel Castro. We were at a party in Cuba and I was having a marvellous evening and I went...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Went.

NP: Went yes.

PM: Going into the Spanish pronunciation!

TH: Yes!

NP: Deviation from the English pronunciation as we understand it and Paul youíve got in with 42 seconds on the rudest person I ever met starting now.

PM: Sometimes security people outside buildings...


NP: Tony Hawks challenged.

TH: Repetition of people again!

NP: Well listened Tony another point to you, the subject back with you, 38 seconds, the rudest person I ever met starting now.

TH: Lu-ditto, that fine singer, was extraordinarily ride to me after Top Of The Pops. Because Iíd been on that programme actually but we wonít go into that, that would be deviating. But all I asked...


NP: Peter Jones has challenged.

PJ: Why did you bring it up?

NP: Twenty-seven seconds for you to tell us now something about the rudest person I ever met starting now.

PJ: Well I met Castro several times and he was awfully nice to me, I must say. Particularly at parties in Cuba where they drank a lot of bacardi rum and danced and er I joined in. And he was an extraordinary man in a way because, I donít know whether you know about him...


NP: Tony Hawks challenged.

TH: So who was the rudest person you ever met?

PJ: I was going to tell you about Fidelís brother!

NP: Nine seconds for you Tony, correct challenge, the rudest person I ever met starting now.

TH: I was on a pirate ship in the Atlantic Ocean, the Jolly Roger flag up on the mast. And the bosun called down to me. He said ďoi!Ē...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Heís nowhere near the rudest person...

NP: No, no, heís...

TH: The bosun was about to call down. I was setting the scene!

NP: Clement I agree with the challenge, one second available still, the rudest person I ever met starting now.

CF: Ruud Gullit...


NP: So Clement Freud speaking as the whistle went has moved forward. Heís still trailing a little for once. Out in the lead is Tony Hawks. And Peter Jones itís your turn to begin. Feng shui. Will you tell us something about that in this game starting now.

PJ: That isnít even English!

NP: No...

PJ: Why do they bring it to the worst linguist in, on the team? It doesnít seem reasonable to me.

NP: You give it as, as a Chinese linguist, give us the correct pronunciation.

PJ: I canít pronounce it! Iím not a linguist and certainly not a Chinese one!

NP: Is there any Chinese linguist in the audience? We need some help here.


NP: Fong shway? All right, shall we go...

PM: Thatís nice isnít it!

NP: Fong shway...

PM: Get in for nothing, start using language like that!

NP: Peter the subject fong shway or feng shui or which ever way you want to take it. Itís up to you, your pronunciation will be accepted, 60 seconds on this subject starting now.

PJ: It sounds vaguely like one hundred and sixty-seven in the menu of the Chinese Garden in Finchley Road. Now I donít know whether it is or not, or whether itís a food or musical instrument. Or a...


NP: Paul Merton has challenged you. Heís helped you out.

PM: Deviation, itís both! It is food and a musical instrument.

NP: Is it?

PJ: There are all kinds of possibilities!

PM: No, hesitation.

NP: Yeah it was hesitation and 45 seconds for you to tell us something about this subject starting now.

PM: Feng shui is one of the tidiest of all the Chinese arts. Unlike kung fu itís much neater. It doesnít involve people getting hit very hard. Itís the belief that you have to put places like mirrors in a very secure part of the house where it reflects golden light and wealth...


NP: Tony Hawks has challenged.

TH: I put it to you that a mirror isnít a place! Itís an object!

PM: Are you actually listening to what Iím saying? Youíre not taking notes, are you? Youíre wasting your time!

NP: Youíd be surprised how many people take notes and write in to me about it. But...

PM: How many? Shall I tell you now Nicholas? Itís been me over all these years!

NP: Oh really? Your letters were...

PM: I put the funny writing at the bottom. Wing Hung Suk at the bottom.

NP: Yes!

PM: Peking! Peking High Street! Big fan of Nicholas Rarsons! I write that! Itís me! Itís me!

NP: Um Tony a correct challenge, you have a point and you have 25 seconds to tell us something about feng shui, feng shui, ooohh whichever way you wish to take it, 25 seconds starting now.

TH: Take the mirror and place it in a fantastic spot and your luck could change. Such is the Chinese art of feng shui which tells you that placement is everything to get the energy in your house flowing correctly. If you have the wrong kind of energy then you will attract bad luck and heaven knows we donít want that...


NP: Peter Jones challenged.

PJ: It sounded as though he said energy twice.

NP: No he said energies and energy.

PJ: You got that, did you?

NP: I got that. One of the jobs Iím paid for is to listen and if I donít, I get absolutely castigated by the other members of the team.

PJ: I see.

PM: Castigated.

PJ: Yes...

PM: Thatís a harsh punishment!

NP: I know! So Iím sorry Peter, incorrect challenge, one second available with you Tony starting now.

TH: Many people have asked me...


NP: Ah oh what happened then? Well Tony Hawks was obviously speaking when the whistle went and heís moved into a commanding lead at the end of that round. Paul itís your turn to begin and the subject here, this sounds a good one. What I keep under my mattress. Tell us something about it in Just A Minute starting now.

PM: I keep under my mattress at home a life-sized blow-up model of Nicholas Parsons, complete with functioning organs. We have a Wednesday get-together with the neighbours where I get out the foot pump and we stand around this little bit of plastic lying on the living room floor. And I slowly, up and down with my foot, I press air into this enormously lifeless form. And suddenly you see a whiff of a sports jacket. Is it, could it be we are going to have amongst us now a replica of that great man whoís entertained us now for what seems like quarter of an hour? With his wonderful career. And as his form is filled with oxygen, the surrounding guests they gasp, they reach for twiglets, drink sherry. And there is a fully functioning chairman of Just A Minute there in front of them. What do we do? Well some people call it Satanic, some people call it evil. But what we like to do is we get hold of this figurine...


NP: Oh Paul Merton started with the subject, kept going for the full 60 seconds without being interrupted. So he gets a point for speaking when the whistle went. And Clement Freud your turn to begin, the subject for this round is the final demand. Tell us something about that in Just A Minute starting now.

CF: The final demand tends to come in a brown envelope, with a window, and you open it. And the letter that comes from this covering begins ďDear Sir UnlessĒ. And the title is right, but the name is totally wrong! Um...


CF: Thank you!

NP: Peter Jones challenged.

CF: That was all I wanted to say.

PJ: The final demand is usually...

NP: Ah I havenít said, I havenít said... what was the challenge?

PJ: Hesitation.

NP: It was hesitation and I agree with that.

PJ: I would have thought that was fairly obvious!

NP: Peter I agree with the challenge, yes, hesitation, you have the subject and you have 40 seconds starting now.

PJ: Well the final demand is usually uttered by the Grim Reaper himself who says ďfollow meĒ. Now when he says this ah to myself, then I will probably decline the invitation. Because I donít want to go into the next round as he would no doubt have me do. Because I donít believe itís going to be a great deal better than the one Iím living in now. So I shanít agree to the final demand and he may easily get the sack! Heís obviously been put up to this by some higher authority, and I doubt if ah he would be able to survive disobedience of that kind on any scale at all. This is ah...



NP: Actually we accidentally let it run past the minute because ah...

PJ: You did?

NP: Yes I know...

PJ: Thatís why I lost!

NP: Before the buzzer went...

CF: I buzzed because it was running over the minute.

NP: And Jane accidentally didnít pick up her whistle on time and she, she let it go for two or three seconds over.

PJ: Ah!

NP: And then when Clement challenged, youíd already, the 60 seconds was up. You, youíre not really bothered, are you? I mean, I know...

TH: We could get the Law Lords in on this one!

NP: And weíre moving into the final round, for those who are interested in the points, the scoring. And um it is Tony Hawks, weíre back with you Tony. Would you take the final round which is going to be liaisons. Tell us something about that in 60 seconds starting now.

TH: I very much enjoy the play Les Liaisons DíOnjour which was on in the West End of London for some time. And I suppose theyíre...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Deviation, itís pronounced feng shui!

NP: Um so well done Tony, I enjoyed the challenge, didnít know what it meant! And um Tony an incorrect challenge, liaisons díungeurors. (goes into French telling him how he has 52 seconds left and ending with start now)


NP: Paul challenged.

PM: (in French accent) Repetition!

NP: Of a pause?

PM: Yes.

NP: All right, Paul you have the subject, you have 48 seconds, liaisons starting now.

PM: Whatís the subject? Liaisons? Oh well I remember...


NP: Tony challenged.

TH: (says in French that Paul isnít speaking in French) Paul continuez en Francais, eh? Quester mon (makes sick making noise)

NP: So we are going to...

PM: Itís wasted on me! I did metalwork! Wasted on me! Itís true!

NP: So if you want to continue in French, you have 46 seconds Tony, liaisons...

PM: Why, why has he got it?

NP: I donít know. I just thought it was good fun really. The whole thingís gone to pieces. You wanted to go on...

PM: He buzzes, talks, talks in some gibberish made-up language...

NP: No, it wasnít actually, it made sense. Ah...

PM: What did he say then?

NP: He said youíve got to speak in French. That was the idea. Iím speaking in English now so itís all gone to pot. Ah...

PM: Speak in French?

NP: Yes.

PM: Youíve given him the subject because I wasnít speaking in French?


TH: Yeah exactly! Iíve got to carry on in French otherwise Iím out. Itís like a party game!

NP: Itís like a party game.

PM: Repetition, deviation, hesitation and not speaking in French!


TH: Well...

CF: You can speak in metalwork!

PM: You can speak in metalwork? All right! This French speaking rule, Iíve missed it over the last 33 years!

NP: Forty-six seconds for you to do metalwork French starting now.

TH: Jíette abba...

NP: No! Him!

TH: I thought I won that challenge!

NP: No, no, no...

TH: I want the Law Lords and I want them here now, and I want all their interests declared as well!

NP: Paul has a chance to show off his metalwork as he takes the subject and er you have 43 seconds...

PJ: Heís going to take his teeth out?


NP: No thatís bridgework!

TH: This is descending into anarchy!

NP: No!

PM: If youíre Chinese, donít write in, sorry!

NP: I love to finish the show on a little bit of anarchy because the audience enjoy it. And itís metalwork or liaisons...

TH: I donít know the French for metalwork!

NP: No itís not you! Heís going to do metalwork, youíre doing French...

TH: Well...

NP: You all have to take it your own way. This is the new concept for this particular round, ah of Paul Merton, metalwork version of liaisons starting now.

PM: I remember the sap film, it was great. There were two blacksmiths meeting across the room and theyíve got these fans and they donít know which oneís in charge of the pig iron or not. And one of themís making a little trowel in the foundry and the other person is there and theyíre wondering whether theyíre going to fall for this dark elegant man with huge muscles from making horse shoes every day. You see thatís metalwork. They taught me that subject...


NP: Clement Freud challenged.

CF: Repetition of metalwork.

NP: Yes thatís metalwork. Itís not on the card, itís liaisons.

PM: But I thought that was the subject? Metalwork?

NP: No, no, itís liaisons.

PM: Itís the subject! You told me the subject was metalwork!

NP: No, metalwork-speak you had to give us on the subject of liaisons.

PM: Well what does that mean?

NP: It means whatever you want! Thatís the joy of this round!

PM: Oh all right, okay.

TH: Just as a matter of interest, what is the French for metalwork?

NP: Um...

PM: (in French accent) Me-tal-work.

TH: Oh okay then.

NP: No, no, (French word)

TH: No, okay, fine.

PM: Thatís egg isnít it?

NP: (more French words)

PM: Oh all right.

TH: I just need to know in case...

NP: Anybody else want to get in the French lesson? Clement Freud, youíre...

PM: I didnít know you did French lessons! Iíve seen your card in the window!

NP: Right Clement Freud, 23 seconds, liaisons. And you have to take it in your own individual way. Weíve had French, weíve had metalwork, and youíve got to be original and distinctive as you go on the subject of liaisons starting now.

CF: Liaison is no more than a relationship between one, two or three, even four, possibly five, maybe six people...


NP: Paul Merton challenged.

PM: Well heís not talking about metalwork. Deviation.

NP: Metalworkís not the subject, liaisons is. You did a metalwork version and the audience loved it, we all loved it. You got both points...

PM: Repetition of maybe.

NP: No he didnít say maybe, no, no, he didnít.

PM: Hesitation.

NP: Or the fact he wasnít speaking in French? Ah right, 13 seconds still with you Clement starting now.

CF: (speaks in German)


NP: Tony Hawks you challenged.

TH: Repetition of sprechen!

NP: I think the final score is settled and Peter we havenít heard from you on this round and itís gone rather bizarre and rather anarchic. And Iíd like to hear your version for the last four seconds on liaisons. And you have to take it in a different direction, a different language, a different concept. You have four seconds in which to achieve that if you possibly can starting now.

PJ: Well Iíd enjoy telling you about one or two liaisons that I had in the past...


NP: So Peter Jones decided to take it in an utterly English way as becomes his personality. How delightful Peter!

PM: But he was on a unicycle as he was saying it!

NP: I know! But it doesnít come over very well on radio. Let me give you the final score because Iím sure youíre just panting to know what it is, arenít you? You canít wait to hear can you, this audience out here. Gosh theyíre so hot, they canít wait to go home. Right, for once Clement Freud finished in fourth place. He was a few points behind Peter Jones, who finished in a very strong third place, one point behind Paul Merton. But out in the lead, a few points ahead was Tony Hawks. So we say Tony you are our winner this week! We do hope youíve enjoyed this particular edition of Just A Minute. I would say bon soir, bon ee and in Chinese wang-toho, and all the other languages. And thank our four delightful and amazing exponents of this game. Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Clement Freud and Peter Jones. Also thank Jane Gibson who has blown her whistle so magnificently as well, helped me on the score and the stopwatch. We thank Ian Messiter for creating the game and making sure that we all have such fun when we come to the Radio Theatre here. And our producer Chris Neill who produces and directs it. From all of them, from me, Nicholas Parsons, thank you for tuning in. Thank our lovely audience here in the Radio Theatre. Tune in the next time we take to the air and play Just A Minute. Till then from all of us here, good-bye! Good-bye!