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Oscar Wilde voted top Brit wit

'Either those curtains go or I do'

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Oscar Wilde has secured top spot in a poll to discover Britain's top wit - pipping Spike Milligan into an honourable second place.

Wilde saw off tough competition from a field which also included Winston Churchill, Jeremy Clarkson, Brian Clough, and Stephen Fry in the top 10 of the Dave poll.

Dave is, in case you're wondering, an absurdly-titled UKTV channel aimed at young chaps, 3,000 of who decided that classic Wilde lines such as "I can resist everything except temptation", "Work is the curse of the drinking classes" and final words "Either those curtains go or I do" were enough to award him the crown.

Spike Milligan was celebrated for quips including his gravestone's inscription reading "I told you I was ill" and "How long was I in the army? Five foot eleven".

Stephen Fry rated third, and will be long remembered for "I don't need you to remind me of my age. I have a bladder to do that for me" and, ahem, "Many people would no more think of entering journalism than the sewage business - which at least does us all some good".

The only controversial entry in the top ten was Liam Gallagher (at 10th), whose main contribution to the art was his observation that Victoria Beckham "can't even chew gum and walk in a straight line, let alone write a book".

Here's the full list of glory, with appropriate quote:

  1. Oscar Wilde: "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilisation in between."
  2. Spike Milligan: "A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree."
  3. Stephen Fry: "It is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then like most clichés, that cliché is untrue."
  4. Jeremy Clarkson (on the Maserati Quattroporte): "In a list of the five most rubbish things in the world, I'd have America's foreign policy at five. AIDS at four. Iran's nuclear programme at three. Gordon Brown at two and Maserati's gearbox at number one. It is that bad."
  5. Sir Winston Churchill: "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put."
  6. Paul Merton: "I'm always amazed to hear of air crash victims so badly mutilated that they have to be identified by their dental records. What I can't understand is, if they don't know who you are, how do they know who your dentist is?"
  7. Noel Coward: "I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."
  8. William Shakespeare: "Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery."
  9. Brian Clough: "I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business, but I was in the top one."
  10. Liam Gallagher: "I suppose I do get sad, but not for too long. I just look in the mirror and go, 'What a f***ing good-looking f*** you are.' And then I brighten up."

In case you're wondering, the top-placed female was dear old Maggie in 12th position. As the Iron Lady once said: "I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end." ®

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