11
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Solve the clues, fit them into the crossword grid, and discover (via the shaded and circled cells) a 9-letter pun. Use this and the answers you have found to explain what's going on here!

enter image description here
Clues:

  Halfway round from N (3)        |   First name of America's "P" (6)  
  M's candy partner (3)           |   Q's language (6)  
  Author V (4)                    |   R & J's creator (first name) (7)  
  C's creator (4)                 |   Japanese W producer (8)  
  L's country (4)                 |   Meaning of K (8)  
  Famed London H (4)              |   Y's sport (8)  
  A's 'final' counterpart (5)     |   Province bordering I (8)  
  Common army U colour (5)        |   2020 O-winner (9)  
  Follows S (in Africa) (5)       |   E's partner in myth (9)  
  G's Fijian Singh (5)            |   Home of T (9)  
  Precedes D (5)                  |   Like F, but faster? (9)  
  Z (1964) actor (5)              |   Longer than X (11)  
  Cartoon Network's B (6)         |   R & J's creator (last name) (11)  
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9
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Completed grid:

enter image description here

The letters in the clues

represent items in the NATO phonetic alphabet

and the resulting answers

like those, are a set of 26 words all beginning with different letters.

The marked spaces in the grid

have letters ALTERNATO

and presumably Stiv is proposing this as an

alternato ... I mean alternative NATO alphabet.

Oh, I should also say which solutions are to which clues. Here they are in the same arrangement as the clues in the puzzle:

MAY      |   ERNEST
IKE      |   FRENCH
HUGO     |   WILLIAM
DAHL     |   YAMAZAKI
PERU     |   THOUSAND
RITZ     |   BASEBALL
OMEGA    |   XINJIANG
JOHNNY   |   ZELLWEGER
KHAKI    |   NARCISSUS
LEONE    |   ARGENTINA
VIJAY    |   QUICKSTEP
GAMMA    |   ULTRAVIOLET
CAINE    |   SHAKESPEARE

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow. A super speedy Sunday solve there Gareth! Well done - the checkmark is yours! $\endgroup$ – Stiv Feb 24 at 6:56

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