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Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 19:00 GMT
Great Britons reaches showdown
Winston Churchill
Churchill could rack up another victory on Sunday
Sir Winston Churchill has overtaken Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the final countdown to the BBC's quest to find the greatest Briton of all time.

By midnight on Friday, Britain's wartime hero had won more than 100,000 votes after former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam championed his cause.

With only a day before Sunday's television final, the last of the series' celebrity endorsements helped push Churchill into front running.

But the battle may yet be close as only 15,000 votes separate Churchill and the Victorian engineer Brunel.

In third place is Diana, Princess of Wales.
Latest top 10
1. Churchill
2. Brunel
3. Diana
4. Darwin
5. Shakespeare
6. Newton
7. Lennon
8. Elizabeth I
9. Nelson
10. Cromwell
Anne Robinson will host the two-hour final of the programme live on BBC Two on Sunday from 2100 GMT.

The public can continue voting until about 15 minutes before the end of the show, with the winner announced at about 2255 GMT.

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.

Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana has been a favourite among female viewers
Some 900,000 votes have been placed - about half by telephone and the same amount via the internet and interactive TV.

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.

Anne Robinson
Anne Robinson will reveal the winner on Sunday night
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."

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

See also:

08 Nov 02 | Entertainment
21 Oct 02 | Entertainment
23 Oct 02 | Entertainment
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