Lord Crudwick insists on savouring the moment

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Today I bring you the closing moments of this year's Moment Of The Year Award Ceremony, the glittering occasion at which the most significant single moment of 1994 is given its due.

We join the ceremony as Lord Crudwick, chief executive of the National Soundbite Library (which is sponsoring the event) reads out the list of nominated moments.

"High on the list of anyone's moments of 1994," says Lord Crudwick, "is the moment when it was finally announced that the IRA would observe a ceasefire and a cessation of violence. It was a moment that everyone had dreamt of. I think I can almost say that every one of us can remember exactly where we were at the moment the IRA ceasefire was announced. I know where I was. I was hiding under a table, trying to get out of the way of the stampede of people who were bound to rush forward and take credit for the IRA ceasefire, Mr Major to the foremost."

A burst of laughter and clapping greets this sally from the genial Lord Crudwick.

"One of my favourite moments of the year occurred on television. I don't know if any of you here watch Have I Got News For You? It's a satirical quiz programme whose revolutionary mix of humour and political comment would appear quite mould-breaking had

it not, like all good TV programmes, been taken straight from radio, in this case, the News Quiz. I sometimes wonder why we never have nominated, as Moment of the Year, that moment when a TV executive leans forward and says, as if nobody has ever thoughtof it before, `I know, why don't we try putting that very funny new radio programme on the telly?' ... I'm sorry. I seem to have strayed from the point. Where was I?"

There is a cry from the audience of "As far as Have I got News For You, you witless old fool."

"Oh, yes," said Lord Crudwick. "I think I shall always treasure the moment of turning on that programme and seeing Teddy Taylor, the Tory backbench MP, sitting beside Paul Merton and behaving so dementedly that the whole nation realised simultaneously

that Taylor didn't know what he was doing on the programme, and we'd all rather have Paul Merton as our MP."

Silence falls as Lord Crudwick retreats into enjoyable reminiscence. Then he re-emerges.

"Other nominations include the realisation that a record £18m had been won on the National Lottery by an Asian worker, which at one stroke did more for integrating the Muslim community in this country than - well - having Salman Rushdie condemned to death, I suppose.

"Then there was the moment when Ireland beat Italy in the World Cup, when the whole of Ireland suddenly realised that they could compete against anyone worldwide. And the moment when Ireland won the Eurovision Song Contest again, and the whole of Irelandsuddenly realised they'd have to stage the bloody Eurovision Song Contest all over again."

Appreciative laughter and applause come on cue for this.

"I also think that this year's Booker Prize announcement was a moment to treasure, when the media suddenly realised that they had been presented with a winner whom nobody would buy and nobody could quote from, on the grounds that you couldn't read more than two lines without uttering a four-letter word - though I have to say that that has never hampered most of the comedians on Channel 4.

"This was also the year the BBC announced it had received most complaints about misuse or language following a Billy Connolly tour in Scotland documentary. It is hard to see how anyone used to Billy Connolly could be surprised by anything he said, exceptif it was clean. I myself rang up the Broadcasting Complaints Commission following the Billy Connolly series on Scottish painting, complaining that I had switched on to hear a few hilarious, foul-mouthed stories about Scottish artists, and h ad been immensely shocked to hear a measured and sensible evaluation of Scottish painting. They promised me it would not happen again."

There is more laughter as Lord Crudwick pretends to lose his place in his notes and find them again.

"There have been many nominations for political and royal moments of the year. One nomination suggests that any appearance by Michael Howard could go forward, when he was heard saying that in his view prison really works, especially if this were combinedwith any report of IRA prisoners breaking out en masse. Others have suggested that the failure by the Duke of Edinburgh to make any public statement or appearance during the year may be of note, but until such time as we have a Non-Event of the Year Award, I fear this must go unrewarded."

With a sinking heart, the audience realises that Lord Crudwick is still nowhere near the end.

We bring you the final climax tomorrow!

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