TV poll to decide greatest ever French figure

14th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 15 (AFP) - Charles de Gaulle was the only political leader to feature on a shortlist of ten personalities announced Monday night from whom television viewers are to select the greatest ever French man or woman in history.

PARIS, March 15 (AFP) - Charles de Gaulle was the only political leader to feature on a shortlist of ten personalities announced Monday night from whom television viewers are to select the greatest ever French man or woman in history.

The wartime hero's rivals for the billing were two scientists, two comedians, a singer, an underwater explorer and a campaigning monk.

But there was no place for other celebrated leaders such as Napoleon, Charlemagne, Louis XIV or Francois Mitterrand, all of whom featured too low down in the top 100 to qualify. President Jacques Chirac came in at 42.

The 10 names were unveiled in a live broadcast from the upper house of parliament, the Senate, on state-owned France 2 Television. Over the next two weeks the station will broadcast half-hour documentaries in which famous modern-day figures will act as advocates to plead their cause.

The public can vote via the Internet, telephone or text-messages, and the winner will be announced at a second live broadcast from the Senate whose date has to be set.

Apart from de Gaulle, the candidates are: Marie Curie and Louis Pasteur, comics Coluche and Bourvil; writers Victor Hugo and Moliere; singer Edith Piaf; underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau; and - the only living contender - 92 year-old Abbe Pierre, who has spent half a century working for the homeless.

In the longer roster of 100 personalities drawn up by a polling institute, Napoleon won 16th position; Charlemagne came in at 22; Mitterrand at 24; Joan of Arc at 31 and Louis XIV at 50. Revolutionary leader Robespierre was in 72nd place.

The top sportsman was Zinedine Zidane at 21, followed by fellow footballer Michel Platini in 41st position, sailor Eric Tabarly at 49, judoka David Douillet at 51 and tennis-man Yannick Noah at 56.

In the acting world, Fernandel (the late Fernand Contandin) was 13th, followed by Louis de Funes and Jean Gabin on 17 and 18 and Jean-Paul Belmondo on 38. Catherine Deneuve was 97th and Gerard Depardieu 99th.

The programme format was pioneered by the BBC with the British public choosing Winston Churchill for the title. In Germany viewers elected Konrad Adenauer, that country's first chancellor following the debacle of World War Two, and in the Netherlands Prince William of Orange pipped slain right-wing anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn after a recount.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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