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Sunday, 24 November, 2002, 23:24 GMT
Churchill voted greatest Briton
Winston Churchill
Churchill notched up another victory in the poll
Sir Winston Churchill has been named the greatest Briton of all time in a nationwide poll attracting more than a million votes.

Participants in the survey voted the second World War leader top of the list of the country's 100 most significant individuals, with 447,423 votes.

He beat his nearest rival, engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, by more than 56,000 votes.

The final vote
1. Churchill
2. Brunel
3. Diana
4. Darwin
5. Shakespeare
6. Newton
7. Lennon
8. Elizabeth I
9. Nelson
10. Cromwell

Proceeds from phone votes will fund a permanent memorial to Churchill at a venue yet to be decided.

The result came after a lively two-hour live debate on BBC2 in which celebrities including former Tory minister Michael Portillo and TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson argued the case for their choices for greatest Briton.

It marked the conclusion of a month-long survey in which viewers cast their votes by telephone and e-mail.

Late surge

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Dr Mo Mowlam put the case for Churchill in the last of six BBC documentaries this week, provoking a late surge of support for him.

Summarising her argument, she said: "If Britain - its eccentricity, its big heartedness, its strength of character - has to be summed up in one person, it has to be Winston Churchill."

Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana had been a favourite among female viewers

In third place was Diana, Princess of Wales.

Great Britons, which began on 20 October, has been hailed as a great success by BBC executives, delighted with its average ratings of three million.

It has led to campaigns among voters using "sophisticated" tactics to cast multiple votes for certain individuals.

The BBC said it had identified people trying to rig the voting and their choices had been eliminated.

Students from Brunel University were behind a "legitimate" campaign to get their institution's namesake out in front.

Similar bona fide efforts have been initiated by fans of other contenders like John Lennon and Princess Diana.

Churchill had been even-money favourite with bookmaker William Hill to win the contest, with Diana at 6-1 and Brunel at 20-1. The book was closed after bets piled up on Brunel.

"The show has seized the public's imagination and sparked off a lot of debate," said the BBC spokeswoman. "Everyone's delighted with it."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Torin Douglas
"In the end it was a comfortable win"
See also:

08 Nov 02 | TV and Radio
21 Oct 02 | TV and Radio
23 Oct 02 | TV and Radio
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