Over 2,000 British adults took part in the survey, which was specially commissioned to mark the start of Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival, 8th – 24th February 2013. A panel from the comedy channel compiled a shortlist of the 25 wittiest British celebrities of recent years, taking care to exclude professional comedians and those working directly in the field of comedy. The shortlist was then put to the public vote to find Britain’s greatest wits.
Cycling hero Bradley Wiggins emerged triumphant with over a fifth of the public vote (20.75%) with comedy lines such as “we’re just going to draw the raffle numbers now,” as he started his speech to the crowds on the Champs Elysees who had come to witness his Tour de France victory.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson came in at second place with 17.65% of the vote. The London leader’s knack for a witty quip was summed up in his observation of extra-curricular activities in the Olympic Village during the 2012 Games in London; “Inspire a generation’ is our motto. Not necessarily ‘Create a generation’ … which is what they sometimes get up to in the Olympic village.”
Third place went to the much loved Ian Holloway (14.30%), manager of football club Crystal Palace, with witticisms such as; “Right now, everything is going wrong for me – if I fell in a barrel of boobs, I’d come out sucking my thumb!”
In forth place is Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, musicians Robbie Williams, Noel Gallagher and Rod Stewart in fifth, six and seventh positions while The Apprentice’s Lord Sugar is at eight actor Colin Firth at nine and TV presenter Ant McPartlin last.
Classic quips that have landed the personalities in the top spot include from Wiggins, after someone threw tacks on the road – causing punctures for a number of riders, “There are hopefully enough police on this race to find the people and… send them to a football match or something.”
Johnson on Ken Livingstone as mayor of London and his finest moments, “Nothing immediately springs to mind. I think losing the election last time was one of his most magnificent acts.”
“I love Blackpool. We’re very similar. We both look better in the dark.” Was a classic from Holloway while Williams made titters with, “I am the only man who can say he’s been in Take That and at least two members of the Spice Girls.”
Gallagher on Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant: “I’m not having it, He looks like a f**king balloon with a f**king Weetabix crushed on to it.” And Firth on Hugh Grant potentially retiring from acting: “All we can do is hope and pray.”
Female celebrities failed to make their mark in the overall top ten line-up. From those that comprised the shortlist, Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman and pop star Lily Allen led the way for the girls, with controversial reality TV favourite, Sharon Osbourne following closely behind.
Steve North, General Manager of Dave, says, “Britain is a hotbed of comedy talent and it’s clear you don’t have to be on the comedy payroll to get the nation laughing, as our top ten of Britain’s greatest living wits encompasses celebrities from diverse fields including the worlds of sport, music, film and politics. Our winner, Bradley Wiggins has a special place in the nation’s heart which seems to be on account of his red hot wit as well as his incredible sporting abilities. We have extended invitations to all those in the top three to appear at this year’s Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival and hope they will agree to appear.”
Dave: Sky channel 111, Virgin TV channel 128, Freeview 12. Details about the Leicester Comedy Festival here.