“The recording was going extremely well, initially” recalled Jamie Smythe, a member of the studio audience for the BBC Radio 4 favourite Just a Minute last week. “Aretha had chalked up a creditable 19 seconds on ‘tea cosies’ and had even made a joke about Nicholas Parson’s age. Then it all went wrong.”
Ms Franklin was given the subject “Respect” on which to talk for a minute, and within three seconds, Julian Clary had challenged her on the word “ooh”. “I know I am being pedantic,” Clary said. But those “oo’s” do constitute repetition.” According to members of the studio audience, Ms Franklin took this in good part, but when she got the subject back, she was challenged again by Gyles Brandreth on repetition of the words “just a little bit”. Later still she was challenged by Jeremy Hardy for repetition of “re”. By that time, the audience was divided into two camps - those who wanted to hear Aretha sing the song, and those who wanted to hear what Julian Clary would like to do to George Galloway.
Ms Franklin fought back by saying “Respect” was the subject on the card, entitling her to use the lyrics. She referred, through her attorney, to the precedent made in a 1971 edition by guest Max Bygraves and his eponymous song “'Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellenbogen by the Sea'. Challenged in that programme by Julian Clary’s late father Kenneth Williams for repetition of “Gilly,” Bygraves was, claimed Ms Franklin, allowed to continue because the name of the song was on the card. Bygraves went on to come second, after an unexpected spurt by the late Clement Freud. It’s now understood that the argument over “Respect” in last week's programme turned acrimonious, with the BBC saying the show may be unbroadcastable, and Nicholas Parsons aprotesting about the delay he was suffered in attending a voice over session for a widely discredited finance company.
“It’s a great pity,” said a spokesman for Ms Franklin. “Aretha has long been a fan of Just a Minute, and even has a signed photograph of the late Peter Jones in pride of place in her beautiful Memphis home. She also likes the repeats of Paul Temple Mysteries on BBC7. We interpreted the introduction of the word “Respect” as a cue for her to sing. Now, we can see this was an act of entrapment. That is why we will seek judicial review in the Supreme Court, with Justice Diana Ross presiding. We will be citing the 1969 edition featuring Chubby Checker and Derek Nimmo.”