The Third Leader: Best of British

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Everyone knows that generalisation is the curse of the scribbling classes, so, really, it's wrong to encourage us by doing things like choosing Concorde as the favourite piece of British design of the last 100 years. But that's what viewers of BBC2's The Culture Show have done, and must therefore suffer the consequences.

Because it is a wonderfully British selection. Style icons cast aside along the way include the world wide web, Tomb Raider, the mini skirt, the Sgt Pepper album cover and Clive Sinclair's calculator. The shortlist included the Supermarine Spitfire, that soaring symbol of our ability to cloak lethally efficient delivery in beauty and swash, and the London Tube map, everyday proof of our knack of solving problems with elegant simplicity by thinking differently.

But no, there's something too successful about those last two for the British: we prefer an uneconomic, uncomfortable, impractical and doomed machine that we stubbornly refused to let go and conveniently forgot was half-French because we became rather fond of it despite all that. It appeals to our self-image as romantics bumbling along on the side of the underdog. Concorde, in Joanna Lumley's phrase, was "that terrific little pterodactyl clawing its booming way over our gardens".

Amen to that. And it was beautiful, although I suspect that is one of its least compelling attractions. Now we wait for the next list, and look for the inclusion of the hovercraft, lava lamps, Centre Point, loon trousers, the De Lorean DMC-12, John Prescott, the Rover 25, Camp Coffee, the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Sir Clive's C5, and, of course, the Titanic.

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