At last - the list to end all lists

A bluffer's guide through the blizzard of Millennium polls

NOW IS the season of the list. As every year nears its end, compilations of the personalities and events, the scandals and disasters that caught our attention, however fleetingly, in the previous 12 months appear in newspapers and magazines, on radio and TV. It's entertaining, it's harmless - and it's a great way to fill space.

This time, of course, there's not just one year to look back on, but 1,000 years - and the whole thing has gone out of control. No subject, however arcane, is immune from list mania, from the Toy of the Millennium (The teddy bear - pity the children of the first 900 years who had to live without them) to the Most Memorable TV Comedy Moment of the 20th Century (Del Boy falling through the bar in Only Fools and Horses, apparently).

No one can keep up with the avalanche of lists and polls. Now you don't have to try - the Independent on Sunday has done it for you, with the List of Lists.

Such lists bring fresh, challenging perspectives to the history of the past 1,000 years. For one thing, it turns out that most of it happened in the past couple of decades. An HMV poll a couple of weeks ago concluded that Robbie Williams's contribution to music had been greater than that of Mozart. A News of the World poll to find Irish Heroes of the Millennium came up not with Wolfe Tone, Michael Collins or Ernest Shackleton but, er, the boy band Boyzone.

Net nerds voted Spike Milligan the Funniest Person of the Millennium, which should give him a laugh, while listeners to Radio 4's Today programme reckoned William Shakespeare was the British Personality of the Millennium. While we know a lot about Shakespeare's plays, the one thing we know zilch about is his "personality". He was notoriously shy about giving interviews, after all.

But never mind. When Oprah Winfrey is the Face of the Millennium and The Lord of the Rings is the Book of the Century, frankly who, as Clint Eastwood didn't say in Dirty Harry, gives a damn?

International Face of the Millennium (Edelman Public Relations Worldwide) Joint Winners: Ronan Keating and Oprah Winfrey.

British Personality of the Millennium (BBC Radio 4 "Today" Programme): William Shakespeare.

Greatest Woman of the Millennium (Voted by 500 nominees for 1999 Women of The Year awards): Queen Elizabeth I.

Greatest Woman of the Century (Voted by 500 nominees for 1999 Women of The Year Awards): Emily Pankhurst

Greatest Thinker of the Millennium (BBC News Online): Karl Marx.

Greatest World Leader of the Millennium (BBC News Online): Mahatma Gandhi.

Top 50 Millennium Masterworks (The Sunday Times): Hamlet, William Shakespeare.

Book of the Century (Waterstone's/ Channel 4): The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien.

Music of the Millennium Poll - Best Band (HMV/Channel 4 /Classic FM): The Beatles.

Music of the Millennium Poll - Best Male Singer: Elvis Presley.

Music of the Millennium Poll - Best Female Singer: Madonna.

All Time Top Thousand Albums (Virgin Publishing): Revolver, The Beatles.

Top Song of the 20th Century (BBC Radio 2): "Yesterday", The Beatles.

Millennium Movies Poll (Sky Premier): Star Wars: A New Hope.

Favourite British Film of the 20th Century (British Film Institute): The Third Man.

Greatest Physicist of all Time ("Physics World" poll): Albert Einstein.

Most Memorable TV Comedy Moment Of The 20th Century ("Guardian" Edinburgh International Television Festival / "Radio Times"): Del Boy falling through the bar in Only Fools and Horses.

Greatest Artist of The Millennium (BBC News Online): Leonardo da Vinci.

Greatest Writer of The Millennium (BBC News Online) William Shakespeare.

Funniest Person of The Millennium (BBC News Online) Spike Milligan.

Irish Millennium Heroes ("News of The World" / Hot Press Irish Music Hall of Fame): Boyzone.

Toy of The Millennium (The Mirror): The teddy bear.

British Building of The Century (English Heritage & Channel 4): Coventry Cathedral.

Major Advance of the Millennium in Ireland (STI) The car.

Dog of the Millennium ("Dogs Today" magazine): Endal, a golden labrador from Portsmouth.

Most Memorable Factual TV Moment of the 20th Century ("Guardian" Edinburgh International Television Festival / "Radio Times"): Neil Armstrong landing on the Moon, 1969.

Top News Story of the 20th Century (Shawnee News-Star Online): US drops atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Japan surrenders to end Second World War.

Football Player of the Century (World Soccer magazine): Pele.

Best-ever Line in a Movie (Total Film magazine): "Do you feel lucky punk?" - Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry.

BUT THERE'S MORE TO COME...

List mania has still not reached its height. The world waits with bated breath the results of:

The Mirror's Poll of The Millennium. Covers absolutely everything, as long as it happened in the last 25 years.

The Sun's Page Three Girl of the Millennium. Front-runners, by an astonishing coincidence, are nearly all white English women born in the 1970s. Fifteenth- century babes don't get much of a look-in.

The News of The World's Millennium Song. No doubt Sir Paul McCartney awaits this dubious accolade with a tingle of anticipation.

Toy of the Century (British Association of Toy Retailers). Lego is the front-runner; chief rival is the teddy bear - already Toy of the Millennium according to the Mirror.

Millennium Icons. T Blair plans a one-off expanded New Year Honours List. Gongs will be handed out to the Government's choice of "icons". Ken Livingstone isn't believed to be on the shortlist.

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