WELCOME TO JUST A MINUTE!
starring BARRY CRYER, SU POLLARD, JOHN SERGEANT and BRIAN SEWELL, chaired by NICHOLAS PARSONS (Television, 19 April 1999)
NOTE: John Sergeant's first appearance, Brian Sewell's first appearance, Barry Cryer's first television appearance, Helena Taylor's first show as producer.
NICHOLAS PARSONS: Thank you, thank you, thank you, hello my name is Nicholas Parsons. And itís my very great pleasure to welcome you to a brand new series of Just A Minute. I am going to be here every day for the next four weeks, and Iím going to have four guests with me each day and Iím going to ask them to speak on a subject I will give them, and they will try and do that without hesitation, repetition o deviating from that subject. So let us now meet the four talented performers who are going to play in the show today. First of all we welcome a very outstanding comedy writer and comedian in his own right, that is Barry Cryer. Beside him sits a talented, effervescent, delightful comedienne Su Pollard. And on my left that distinguished art critic Brian Sewell. And beside him another distinguished individual, political commentator, journalist John Sergeant. Would you please welcome all four of them! And we have a lovely warm audience here as we start the show with Barry Cryer. Barry the subject Iíd like you to talk on is ever decreasing circles. Tell us something about that subject in this game starting now.
BARRY CRYER: Who can forger that seminal series, Ever Decreasing Circles, starring Richard Briers, Penelope Wilton, Peter Egan as the next door neighbour. A story of suburban angst, neighbourhood watch, endless conflict and confusion. The plots proliferated and who can forger Howard and...
NP: Su Pollard, you have challenged.
SU POLLARD: It was so fantastic, but Iím sure this is a good challenge. Two forgets?
BC: Two forgets.
NP: Two forgets, yes.
NP: A correct challenge Su.
SP: Iím sad I interrupted you Ďcause that was really good!
NP: Yes, not at all, thatís the game, to interrupt and gain points. Because you get a point for a correct challenge Su...
BC: Youíve got ears like a hawk!
SP: Theyíre rattling a bit today!
NP: Right Su so you have a correct challenge, you get a point for that. There are 42 seconds available and you take over the subject of ever decreasing circles starting now.
SP: A singular popular enjoyment, enjoyment...
NP: Su youíve been challenged immediately by John Sergeant.
JOHN SERGEANT: Hesitation Iím afraid Su. Appalling!
JS: Absolutely appalling!
NP: Well donít rub it in John!
SP: Yes because I realised Iíd got to say singularly! But it only came out as singular. Oh go on, take pity on me! Iíve been waiting here a long time!
NP: I know, Iíve heard you a long time and youíre lovely with it. We donít mind whether you hesitate or do anything, itís lovely to have you on the show Su. But John it was a correct challenge so you get a point for that and you take over the subject of ever decreasing circles and there are er 37 seconds available starting now.
JS: Ever decreasing circles tend to give the impression of confusion if youíre the person involved. If youíre a small rat or rodent and youíre chasing your tail, itís harvest time and youíve been upset by the harvest combiner...
NP: And Su you challenged first.
SP: I believe there was repetition on harvest.
NP: There was indeed Su, you listened well. You might have a lot in your ear holes but...
SP: No thereís not, I cleaned Ďem out this morning!
NP: On your lobes, I should have said, on your earlobes.
BRIAN SEWELL: No, no, thatís not a right challenge. A harvest mouse is a definition of a particular kind of mouse. You cannot just say mouse if you mean a harvest mouse.
NP: Have you come on here to be difficult and cantankerous?
BS: Isnít that what you expected?
NP: Yes, no, itís all right darling, you have, you have got a correct challenge?
SP: Yes but weíre deviating now from the challenge arenít we? By talking about whatís a harvest mouse and what isnít!
NP: I know we are!
SP: Iíve got to get a train in a minute! Iím booked to go back!
NP: Su save it for the show but...
NP: Barry yes?
BC: I had black hair when I came here today!
SP: Oh Iím glad Iíve come on this! Iím having a nice time! Yes?
NP: You have got a correct challenge and you have 27 seconds to tell us something about ever decreasing circles starting now.
SP: Ever decreasing cir...
NP: Brian what are you playing at?
SP: Now, just a minute! Iíve got to breathe Brian!
BS: No, no, no, please stop! Stop now!
NP: Su an incorrect challenge because you did not hesitate, you really got going with speed and panache. Twenty-six seconds left, you barely went for a second! Twenty-six seconds now, ever decreasing circles starting now.
SP: Ever decreasing circles seems to me what weíve all been doing in the last few seconds actually. Iím delighted to get on to the correct subject. Iím hoping not to be interrupted at all by any further seconds. Of course as I said...
BC: Repetition of seconds.
NP: Yes Barry you have a correct challenge, you have a point to you, you take back the subject, 15 seconds are available, ever decreasing circles starting now.
BC: One of the most marked characteristics of the harvest mouse is the ever decreasing circles in which it runs in a field of crops. Having no sense of direction, being disorientated and confused. The aforementioned animal tends to pursue...
NP: Yes! Whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gains an extra point. On this occasion it was Barry Cryer. So at the end of that round Su Pollard, youíll be interested to hear, is in the lead. She got a lot of points in that round with Brian Sewellís help. And Barry Cryer in second place. And er Su would you take the next round. A lovely subject, bananas. Tell us... why do you laugh? What is associated with bananas and Su Pollard?
SP: Iím coming to that in a minute!
NP: You have 60 seconds as usual starting now.
SP: In America you could be a top one. Iíve been called this. But the correct term for bananas is an object that can be eaten with... oh no Iíve said that wrong? Can I carry on?
NP: No! John Sergeant challenged you.
JS: You canít be eaten with a banana. Nobody can be!
NP: Deviation from English as we understand it. But you do create wonderful images in the mind, which are wonderful Su! John a correct challenge, a point to you for that and there are 51 seconds available on bananas starting now.
JS: Bananas, the whole subject must be straightened out! If you remember there was a famous mafia chief who was called Joe Bananas. The last conversation he was involved with was when a man...
NP: Why have you challenged Su?
SP: Because John mentioned the whole subject of bananas, and then he said there was a man called Joe Bananas.
NP: Youíre talking rubbish darling!
SP: So youíre actually accusing me of what this topic is all about then! In a polite way youíre trying to say Iím bananas!
NP: You can repeat the subject on the card as often as you wish and in whichever context you like to repeat it. So that is not actually deviating. So you still have the subject, you have a point for an incorrect challenge from Su and you have 42 seconds available starting now.
JS: Right letís clear up these bananas. There was a Reverend Canaan Banana who worked in Africa and he was in Zimbabwe. He was a chief leader and heís now in prison. There was another banana called Joe Bananas and he was a mafia chief in New York. And the last reported conversation that he had was when a man stopped a car, pointed a gun at him, and said ďokay Bananas, this is itĒ. And in America they call it ba-nah-nas whereas we call it ba-nar-nas but then whatís a tomato but any other name than banana...
NP: Why have you challenged Brian?
BS: I think talking about tomatoes is deviation.
NP: No itís not deviation, mentioning the tomato in connection with bananas because he was going on, and Iíve never heard a man go on a subject and mention the word bananas so often, and so successfully and so succinctly. So John you have another point and you keep the subject and there are 14 seconds available, bananas starting now.
JS: The other point about bananas at the moment is that they are at the centre of a dispute between the United States and Europe in a trade war. Nothing less than something which could cause an enormous difficulty between our two great continents. And you may think itís funny but bananas in this country are very serious...
SP: Oh yes! Excellent!
NP: So John Sergeant with style and panache kept going on the subject of bananas until the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so and he has taken the lead at the end of that round. Now then Su Pollard, some bananas. Brian Sewell, weíd love to hear from you on Monetís paintings starting... no sorry, itís singular. Monetís painting starting now.
BS: Monetís painting of course was an activity rather than an object. The activity began...
SP: Oh yes! Oh yeah he said...
NP: itís a difficult difficult game Brian!
BS: Yes it is yes! Iím sorry! I was thrown completely by your quibbling about the singular or plural.
NP: Those have been the rules of Just A Minute for 34 years actually.
BS: But youíre, youíre not allowing me the rhetorical device either.
NP: No, no...
SP: Oh look, youíre just approaching the male menopause Brian! Just just leave, accept that!
NP: Fifty-three seconds available for you John on Monetís painting staring now.
JS: When Monet started his career he was called Monnet. And...
NP: Brian Sewell challenged.
BS: I, itís not exactly deviation but when he started his career, he was called Oscar.
JS: The Monet that Iím talking about was called Monnet! And I will explain that as the time goes on.
NP: I know, I know...
JS: Iíve got 53 seconds and I can explain this difficulty. He started his life, everyone has personal problems. He...
NP: I know but...
JS: .. had his problems about whether he should be called Monet, Monnet or Money.
NP: I think you should keep that for the show actually. Because if weíre talking about Monetís painting, I think we must be talking about the painter. And I think Brian knows more than us about him, we accept the fact...
JS: It just needs a bit of explanation. Brian hasnít given me a chance to explain how I know about this problem that Monnet had with his pronunciation.
BS: Do you mean Monet the painter or Monet the politician?
JS: No because youíll know as it comes out. Weíve got 53 seconds...
NP: Listen, do you two boys want to go outside and have a real...
NP: Iím giving the subject to Brian Sewell and tell him heís got 49 seconds on Monetís painting starting now.
BS: Various pictures were signed with this um middle name, rather than the first which was Claude. He came into his own at about the age of 26 oh six...
BS: Blub blub! I got my six and my nine muddled up!
NP: So you see John, you get back in again, donít you, and you have another point as well and you have the subject and you have 37 seconds, 38 seconds starting now.
JS: I will keep very carefully now to Monet. He lived in France in a lovely house with a big garden. At the bottom of the garden there was a lake...
NP: And Su youíve challenged.
SP: Yes I would like to challenge that description given by John. Because unless you were actually a frequent visitor to his abode, how do we know that he...
NP: Why donít you have him for repetition of garden?
BC: Two gardens.
SP: Oh I never thought of that! I thought mine was better! Mine was better than that! Oh Iíve gone on a bit there, havenít I!
NP: All right, we give it to you Su because you havenít played the game very much. You have repetition of garden and 30 seconds for you to tell us something about Monetís painting starting now.
SP: Of course Monet is not to be confused with the other painter of the same initial and we can almost pronounce it equally the same. He has been known...
NP: Yes you challenged?
BS: Two same.
NP: Two sames.
SP: Oh whatís the matter with me? Iím mental!
NP: No youíre not, you just find this very difficult...
BS: No youíre just bananas!
SP: That was the last topic Brian! Meet me outside, I can pack a punch!
NP: Brian you have a correct challenge, you have a point for that, Monetís painting starting now.
BS: Thereís a very large exhibition of Monetís paintings at the Royal Academy at this very moment. Most of these are associated...
BC: Slight hesitation I thought.
NP: No, no, no, slight hesitation but not enough to be, you know...
BC: Whatís the dividing line then between slight and not enough?
NP: Iíve never worked it out. Over 30 years Iíve never worked it out. And er I just have to make that sort of instant judgement. And on this occasion the judgement goes towards Brian Sewell so he gets a point for being interrupted, he keeps the subject with 15 seconds, Monetís painting starting now Brian.
BS: Nineteen hundred and ninety... twenty-six when he died. Unfortunately poor Monet was blind most of the time and these are unspeakable daubs rather than fine paintings. Nevertheless the Royal Academy which is blind most of the time...
NP: So Brian was speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. Barry challenged just after the thing because he thought heíd said blind twice which he did. But it was too late. And Brian has leapt forward, yes, heís in second place with Su Pollard. Nice to be equal with Su Pollard, Iím sure.
NP: Fine, itís John Sergeantís turn to begin, the subject is pests. John Iím sure in your political time youíve met quite a few of those, maybe interviewed some of them. But tell us something about the subject in this game starting now.
JS: Pests can be terrible in Africa, the Biblical pestilence and famine. Millions of locusts come down and they rip the leaves off the crops. And all you can see in the gloom, the sun has darkened, is just the sight of what...
NP: Barry you challenged.
BC: How does the sun darken?
JS: Well itís, you know how the sun is usually quite bright...
JS: ...and it can hurt your eyes...
JS: You put millions of locusts between you and the sun...
BC: So the sun hasnít darkened...
JS: It darkens, well, the sun, to you, has darkened.
BC: No, the locusts have darkened the sun.
BS: I think he has the authority of Genesis on his side!
NP: God, weíre going to bring the Bible into this, are we? Shouldnít have said God before the Bible, should I? Barry I think thatís a clever challenge of deviation so I give you the benefit of the doubt there and tell you that you have the subject of pests and you have 45 seconds starting now.
BC: Pests to me are represented by people who say ďdare I sayĒ and ďpardon my FrenchĒ and ďfor my sinsĒ, these idiosyncratic irritating conversational ploys. They throw at you endlessly, they din on my ears...
NP: And Brian youíve challenged.
BS: They and they.
SP: Yes that was very well interrupted there I thought Brian.
NP: I donít think, I donít think youíre in a position to comment on other peopleís challenges Su!
SP: Iíve been listening! I mean you couldnít help but hear it!
BS: Her reactions are slow!
NP: Yes! Right, we often let two theys go, but three, all right Brian, we give it to you. Pests is with you now, 33 seconds starting now.
BS: I recently sold a house. And one afternoon when a party of rather important people were about to arrive with the possibility of making an offer for it, what should I discover in my kitchen but ants. Not just two or three but several thousand ants...
NP: Yes I know itís a tough game. John the ants came in there too often and 15 seconds for you on pests starting now.
JS: The real pests are those who work for private clamping companies and you are suddenly told...
NP: Just a minute...
BC: Hesitation there!
NP: There was a hesitation, but after that particular remark... I think you were waiting for the laugh that didnít come actually!
JS: No I was, my memory was going back to the incident Iím about to describe where I was clamped...
NP: Youíve got more...
JS: Anybody would hesitate for a second!
BS: Oh I thought you said camping!
JS: No, clamping!
SP: Oh no, we thought he said camping. Your diction is terrible!
JS: If weíre talking about clamping...
NP: We all thought you said camping!
JS: ...when youíre parking illegally.
BC: I say, ask the audience Nicholas. Do you think he said clamping?
SHOUTS OF ďYESĒ FROM THE AUDIENCE
NP: Anyway John the thing was that Barry had you for hesitation and that was a correct challenge. So Barry you have the subject of pests back with you, eight seconds starting now.
BC: Two recent blockbuster films, Ants, and A Bugís Life, deal with pests, delineating as they do a vast community of these small insects...
NP: So Barry Cryer was then speaking as the whistle went, gained an extra point for doing so. And heís leapt forward now, heís equal with Brian Sewell in second place, just behind our leader who is still John Sergeant. And John itís your turn to begin, the subject... oh thatís pests, weíve just done that one! Weíre back with Barry Cryer!
NP: Drawing a blank, thatís a good subject. And by the way, they can repeat any of the words on the card, if itís a phrase, you know, individually or separately. So Barry, drawing a blank, 60 seconds starting now.
BC: Iím daunted by the presence of Brian Sewell on this programme. Because I would have thought that drawing a blank is a contradiction in terms. How on earth can you draw a blank? An empty canvas, a void...
BS: Sorry that was a mistake.
NP: It was a sort of Sewell slip, was it?
NP: Yes it was. What actually happens then if someoneís interrupted, they get a point for the interruption and then they carry on speaking on the subject. And there are 49 seconds with you Barry on drawing a blank starting now.
BC: In my own life of writing through the years, I often drew a blank, reached a mental block. I remember, years ago, trying to think of the right word for two weeks. And then I thought fortnight, that is the word I was searching for...
BC: Iíve said word.
SP: Oh well, never mind!
NP: John you challenged.
JS: Word Iím afraid.
NP: There were too many words, but then he lives with words, itís his...
JS: I know, he loves them!
NP: Yes and he puts them together so beautifully as well and so funnily. Um, Iím giving you all the build-up I can but the audience arenít reacting!
BC: They were nodding! They were nodding!
NP: So John Sergeant, you have the subject of drawing a blank, there are 35 seconds available starting now.
JS: Drawing a blank is one of those American phrases. It could be the title of a book by Raymond Chandler. He wrote The Lost Weekend. He also wrote The Big Sleep...
NP: And you challenged?
SP: Two wrotes, am I correct in saying that?
NP: You are, he had two wrotes.
JS: Yes yes.
SP: I reckon Iíve got the real reason why you do so well on this. Because you donít flow, do you?
NP: What do you mean you donít flow?
SP: He donít flow. He hasnít got a flow.
BC: Who hasnít got a flow?
SP: You havenít got a flow.
BC: Havenít I?
SP: Because when he talks, he does things like (staccato) the reason I have come across this word pesticide is because in the 20th century. (normal) Donít you think he attacks every word?
BC: Deviation from sanity!
NP: Well Su Pollard, we now have a chance to see your flow, and I canít wait for it!
SP: What was it again? What was it?
NP: All right darling, donít get too...
SP: Drawing a blank.
NP: Drawing a blank, yes.
BC: Drawing a blank.
SP: Oh I donít want that one, no, I wonít bother.
NP: Drawing a blank, flow away Su, and you have 27 seconds if you want them starting now.
SP: Drawing a blank is not the phrase that could be levied at Rolf Harris as he usually...
NP: Um Barry yes?
BC: Can a phrase be levied? Levelled! Can it be levied?
BC: Can it be levied Brian?
NP: It cannot be levied...
SP: I meant to say levelled!
NP: I know!
SP: But it kind of, you know, got stuck on my tongue and came out as id instead of elled.
NP: I know, I know. So youíre challenging for deviation...
BC: Deviation from the English language.
NP: As we understand it, yes. Sorry what were you saying Brian?
BS: I claim that Suís been taking lessons in Japanese and canít get her Ls and her Rs!
NP: Barry you had a correct challenge, so you have the subject of drawing a blank, itís back with you and there are 19 seconds available starting now.
BC: The endless vista of no ideas, inspiration, or Iíve forgotten what I was going to say next...
BC: Itís a deadly subject this!
NP: It is the most frustrating game youíve ever invented! John... and when youíve got three bright sparks breathing down your neck, trying to trip you up all the time, itís even more difficult. John Sergeant you had a correct challenge, drawing a blank, and there are 18, no there are not, there are 13, no theyíre not, yes, 13 seconds... Iíve got a little clock in front of me, and um... Iím sorry...
BC: That word had a L in it!
JS: Can I get started?
SP: Oh yes!
JS: Itís very frustrating...
NP: I wish you hadnít said that!
JS: I donít care, oh I want to get going.
SP: Iíve got four men with me who are obviously in great need of viagra! No...
NP: Maybe thatís whatís wrong with my little clock!
SP: Oh this is fun, arenít it!
NP: Thirteen seconds are still available for drawing a blank, itís with John Sergeant starting now.
JS: Drawing a blank...
BS: Yes a distinct drawing of breath on my left here!
NP: I know, he has to draw his breath before his... he only went for less than a second! So John Iím giving you the benefit of the doubt and you have 11 seconds on drawing a blank starting now.
JS: Drawing a blank is when a detective in America drives up in a white car to a big mansion. In the side of the mansion there is a green...
BS: Hesitation before greenhouse.
NP: Thatís right, greenhouse.
SP: Thatís right, weíre in agreement with that!
JS: Mmmmm! Mmmmm! Mmmmmm!
NP: ...you very cleverly got in with two seconds to go on drawing a blank...
SHOUTS OF ďAWWWWĒ FROM THE AUDIENCE
NP: What do you mean awww? Itís part of the game!
JS: No, thank you for whoever said awww!
NP: Two seconds...
JS: Iíll talk to you after the show! Thanks!
NP: ...with you Brian starting now.
BS: It is the activity of most contemporary artists!
NP: Brian Sewell was then speaking as the whistle went, gained that extra point for doing so. And heís getting quite a few points, now heís equal with Barry Cryer in second place. And Su Pollard is trailing a little, John Sergeantís in the lead. And Su Pollard itís your turn to begin and the subject is, Oh I think this has been thought of specially for you, the kiss of life. Oh yes! Iím sure anyone would love to give you the kiss of life because they would get more life back than you! Su you have 60 seconds to talk on the subject starting now.
SP: I know many women and indeed men who would love to be on the receiving end of the kiss of life. Preferably given by somebody of wonderful gender, ie. Brad Pitt...
BS: What is... surely that is a deviation?
JS: Hold on, wonderful gender...
BS: You can either be male or female, but wonderful gender suggests something else.
JS: Hold on Brian, my buzzer went on first!
SP: Yeah but you, Brian!
JS: Itís so terrible to play this!
SP: Brian you at least knew I meant male or female so you can have gender.
JS: As it happens...
BS: We both...
JS: I want my lawyer here!
SP: Iím going! Iím of that age! I have to stand up!
SP: Not bad legs are they for, you know...
NP: Darling we havenít come on... Su for goodness sake, listen... sit down dear! Right, now as much as we love you, you havenít come on Just A Minute to show off your legs!
SP: No, sorry!
BC: As neither have you!
SP: Yes! Well interrupted!
NP: John Sergeant has the subject and there are 47 seconds available, the kiss of life starting now.
JS: We were very keen on the kiss of life when we were doing lifesaving courses...
SP: Oh no, sorry, I interrupted too soon!
SP: Coz he just said two wes! He said we were very keen on the kiss of life when we!
JS: well how else would you make a sentence work?
SP: Yeah but you just tried to trip me up on wonderful gender! I mean that was not right!
NP: I think if he did repeat we, youíre entitled to have it, though we usually let little words like that go.
SP: Oh do we?
JS: Otherwise itís very mean Su. People like me burst into tears and walk out!
SP: Granted! I can understand that!
JS: You see to me, itís that serious. Itís that, sort of, getting personal!
SP: Itís just a, the key to the debate...
NP: Su youíve got the subject back again and you have a point for it and you have 43 seconds and itís the kiss of life and you start now.
BS: That was a hesitation.
NP: That was a hesitation. So Brian...
SP: No I was gathering momentum...
NP: I know!
SP: ...to go into my flow again!
NP: But your momentum didnít come quick enough darling! So Brian you have 41 seconds for you to tell us something about the kiss of life starting now.
BS: For some of us the kiss of life might well be the kiss of death because if we came round to consciousness...
BC: Blatant hesitation!
BC: Oh you could have driven a coach and horse through that!
NP: Thereís no need to rub it in, it was hesitation and I agree...
BC: More salt with your wounds, vicar?
NP: Youíre sort of playing the audience, getting them to groan in sympathy with you. So you get a point for a correct challenge, you take over the subject of the kiss of life and there are 34 seconds and you start now.
BC: I was in a pub in Glasgow which may surprise you. And one of the less regular of the customers had misunderstart the term...
BC: Start? Start?
NP: John Sergeant you challenged, a hesitation.
JS: Yes, got into a muddle there.
NP: Yes, the kiss of life is back with you and there are 26 seconds starting now.
JS: When we were doing lifesaving courses, we were particularly keen, the boys were, to make sure that we blew a lot of air into the lips of some of the girls. The staff didnít think this was a very good idea. We said we were trying to help them because we didnít want them to pass away because of a silly accident in the swimming pool. So they decided...
NP: Brian Sewell challenged.
BS: There seemed to be rather a lot of becauses.
NP: Yes there was more than one because. So Brian you got in...
BC: Oh look at his face! Thatís awful! Not like this on the News, is he?
BC: Not petulant on the News!
NP: Right Brian, a correct challenge, the last 11 seconds of the show today, the kiss of life starting now.
BS: Imagine there you are, flat on your back, unconscious, and somebody has pinched your lips in a way that allows them to suck air in as somebody else is... blowing...
NP: John Sergeant got in first, and you got in John with half a second to go!
BC: Oh dear!
JS: Bad luck!
BC: Oh dear! The total is, nobody loves a smart-arse!
NP: John Sergeant, half a second, the kiss of life starting now.
JS: The kiss of life...
NP: So they all got lots of points in that show, they all contributed so well, the contributions were what I enjoyed, the points is what they enjoy. And coming out on top with most points of all was John Sergeant. So we say John youíre our winner! So on behalf of Barry Cryer, Su Pollard, Brian Sewell, John Sergeant and myself Nicholas Parsons, we hope youíve enjoyed the show. And be at the end of your televisions the next time we play Just A Minute. Until then good-bye!