Independent Pursuits: Creativity

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MEDIA MOGULS were asked to commission some alternative speakers and messages for the post-prandial slot that ER has monopolised. Who did they choose?

ER's lookalike, Jeanette Charles, was a mischievous choice, designed to confuse suitably sozzled viewers, sunk into a drunken stupor, as to which channel they were actually watching. As was Camilla Parker-Bowles and her opening line "My future husband and I". Mike Gifford, finding three-headed Cerberus much more entertaining than Royal Corgis, broadcasts Tails of the Unexpected on Radio Hades, with National Hunt racing over the Styx. While Susan Tomes would have the Queen's racehorses tell us how "racist" she really is.

Nicholas E Gough wants a fruitily bedecked Julian Clary to deliver the Queen's Peach, while - A Late Soap Flash - Tiffany walks into a mysterious cloud, enveloping Albert Square, becoming the Incredible Shrinking Woman, diminishing in size with each episode, until she vanishes into Grant's dandruff.

John Harvey has a Millennium Bug preaching of the calm before the storm. Andrew Duncan has William Hague on shepherding a lost flock, Myra Hindley on Cherishing the Young and Gerry Adams on Arms and the Man. Alan Meikle has General Augusto Pinocchio on Truth and Reconciliation, looking back on 20 anni horribili for the Chilean people, and forwards to his state visit to Spain next year, in a spirit that the past can be dead and buried.

Joe Adams's channel features a liberating nude speech, and as an alternative to a Nativity Play, sex play with a banana, two walnuts and a ring doughnut. Paul Turner has a Yiddisher Jehovah bemoan his overworked Creation Week, Mary Flavin has a grumbling, overworked S Claus resign in pique. Bruce Birchall's vote went to Burma's An Yang Suu Kyi, who he sees as the Nelson Mandela of our generation. She would talk about the precarious state of human rights in the world.

And so the Bafta for Best Platform for New Voices. And the winners are... Messrs Gifford, Gough and Meikle, who hold a Chambers Dictionary of Quotations.

On 31 December a "leap second" will be added at midnight. All major clocks in the world will stop for exactly one second. The last minute of the day will be 61 seconds long. There will be seven pips, not six, on the radio. (Why? To re-synchronise the earth's slowed-down rotation-time with atomic clocks.)

Write to Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL by 7 January. Prizes of the Chambers Dictionary of Quotations for the three most imaginative, but only two if a reader wins one for suggesting that week's theme. Next week: New Year Resolutions - for other people.