It's over to Noel for some more balls - 3, 5, 14, 22, 30, 44, and 10

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The Independent Online
''AND NOW a countdown to the activation of the balls!'' yelled Noel Edmonds. But he was too late. The balls had started much earlier in the BBC's National Lottery Live! About the time that Noel pulled out ``49 Ordinary Souls'' in pastel jumpsuits from the studio audience to compete for the honour of pressing the button that would start the Merlin machine. The show was an hour long: 58 minutes of this featured the most desperate foreplay in history.

The actual moment of rapture would happen in someone's front room, and not even Noel or the grainy Dr Barry Blight - ``a number one guy from the LSE'' - could predict where that would be. But they had to give the impression that something was happening all the time, or else viewers might figure that they could catch the whole of Blind Date or BBC2's wacky look at the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Algeria and still turn back in time to see those adorable little balls pop into their sockets.

In the studio, Noel veered wildly between crude appeals to avarice - ``someone is going to be a millionaire and it could be YOU!'' - and solemn hymns to the worthy causes that would benefit from the lottery. While the Ordinary Souls punted footballs at B-list celebs like Eric Bristow, a beaming Anthea Turner was up in Nottingham taking the nation's pulse (racing). Gordon Kennedy wasted even more time with a Camelot PR man who understandably looked like the Cheshire Cat that swallowed the golden goose. ``The tills are about to close. And I'm asking David what the closing of the tills means.''

It meant that 45 million ticket sets had been sold and that the Historic Winner stood to make pounds 6.9m. Anthea asked a man dressed as Robin Hood what he would do if he won the cash. ``Give it to the poor,'' he said. That got the biggest laugh of the night.

- The winning lottery numbers are 3 5 14 22 30 44. The extra bonus number is 10. Last night's draw is not thought to have produced a millionaire. Seven people are believed to have the numbers for the the jackpot, and Camelot said last night that they had won more than pounds 800,000 each, as the jackpot in fact stood at pounds 5.8m. A total of 1.1 million people won prizes from the pounds 22m prize fund.

Oflot's Mr Boring, page 3

Number up, page 23

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