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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 May, 2003, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Hitler barred from German greats race
Adolf Hitler
Hitler will be deliberately excluded by the voting system

German TV is to make its own version of the BBC series Great Britons - but will not allow viewers to vote for Hitler or any of his Nazi entourage.

German public broadcaster ZDF will produce the series Unsere Besten (Our Best) in partnership with BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the corporation that sold the programme format.

In the UK, the public were allowed to nominate who they liked in the BBC Two series which ran for several weeks in 2002.

The overall winner, Sir Winston Churchill, nominated by former minister Mo Mowlam, was finally chosen from a list of the most popular 100 nominees.

In Germany, the voting procedure has been modified to stop Hitler or any his followers being included.

A panel of experts will nominate 250 people. The public will then be invited to chose 50 more before the final voting begins.

"The concept could not have found a better home in Germany," said Mark Young of BBC Worldwide.

"It will be a very exciting show, if you only think of all the strong candidates: Goethe, Bach, Luther, or perhaps Marx, or Gottlieb Daimler or even Franz Beckenbauer?"

Ratings hit

Walter Hellebrand of BBC Worldwide added that the competition would also be very open as to who qualified as being German.

"ZDF seems to be defining German in a very loose way," Mr Hellebrand told BBC News Online.

"Hitler was an Austrian, but then so was Mozart.

"But to the outside world everyone perceives them as Germans, even the Germans themselves."

One German who will qualify is Einstein, who was born in Germany, but brought up in Switzerland.

Sir Winston Churchill was named the greatest Briton of all time after weeks of heated debate.

The top 10 Britons were advocated by current well-known Britons, who stated their candidate's case in a series of one-off TV programmes.

Sir Winston won with 447,423 votes, beating his nearest rival, engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, by more than 56,000 votes.

The widespread interest in the series was reflected by high ratings, with the final attracting more than three million viewers.

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