The New Elizabethans: 60 men who define our age

3 Mar

The BBC has set out to find the 60 men and women who define the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Which icons should we remember? Who are the diamonds in ER’s crown? The sixty need not be famous but they must be remarkable. They might not hail from these isles but they must at least have lived in Britain for a number of years. They can have changed modern Britain for good or for ill.

I – I’m not sure why – have set myself the task of drawing up a list. It’s no easy job. I am struck by two things. First the task would be a hell of a lot easier if I could include heroes from the Forties. A lot of my heroes achieved greatness in those years: Churchill, Orwell, Coward, Keynes, Attlee, Bevan, Beveridge, Turing, Popper, to name but a few. I am quite content to say that between them these nine men are greater than every other New Elizabethan combined.

That is the second point: how much greater are men of other eras! How much easier it would have been to list 60 Victorians. In art, literature, engineering, science, exploration, they outshine all I have listed below. Who is our Shakespeare? Who is our Dickens? O if only I could have Orwell.

I have listed my choices below. It is subject to the prejudices of the writer, as all these lists are. Some I have not included either because I do not like them (Simon Cowell, David Beckham, Richard Branson) or because I think more remarkable men represent a similar idea. So Diana is there, but Jade Goody isn’t. So Nick Leeson is there, but Mr Goodwin isn’t.

These are our diamond geezers:


Our Earl of Essex?

1. Mrs Thatcher
2. Roy Jenkins
3. Enoch Powell
4. Tony Blair

5. Rosalind Franklin
6. Stephen Hawking
7. Richard Dawkins

Our Bacon?

8. Jimmy Savile
9. Kenneth Williams
10. John Cleese
11. Bernard Levin
12. Sir David Attenborough

Our Jonson?

13. Isaiah Berlin
14. RD Laing
15. James Lovelock
16. Friedrich Hayek
17. Germaine Greer


Our Spenser?

18. Betjeman
19. Larkin
20. Kingsley Amis
21. Anthony Burgess
22. le Carré
23. Ian Fleming
24. Pinter
25. Plath
26. JRR Tolkien
27. Roald Dahl


Our Drake?

28. Nick Leeson
29. Myra Hindley
30. Lord Bingham
31. Princess Diana
32. Tim Berners-Lee
33. Shirley Bassey
34. Christine Keeler
35. Mary Whitehouse
36. George Best
37. Mo Farah
38. Lucian Freud

Our Marlowe?

39. Lennon
40. Jagger
41. Bowie
42. Britten

43. Mary Quant
44. Charles Saatchi
45. Richard Beeching
46. Alec Issigonis
47. Stelios Haji-Ioannou
48. Jack Cohen
49. Loyd Grossman

Our Dee?

50. Robin Day
51. Richard Ingrams
52. Leo Baxendale
53. Chad Varah
54. Andrew Wiles
55. Arthur Scargill
56. Ian Paisley
57. Alex Salmond
58. Nick Park

Our Queen of Scots?

Our Queen and foreign emperor.
59. Rupert Murdoch
60. Queen Elizabeth II


5 Responses to “The New Elizabethans: 60 men who define our age”

  1. Sachin March 3, 2012 at 8:43 PM #

    You’re still missing Damon Albarn, I note: our Elizabeth’s version of John Dee.

    • David Tuckwell March 5, 2012 at 9:43 PM #

      Hi Luke. I don’t know if you can read this, I hope you can. My suggestions would be (assuming the timeline starts at 1953):


      Bertrand Russell – Nobel Laureate and one of the greatest analytic philosophers of all time.

      Alan Turing – An extraordinary man whose creative genius lives with us still.


      Martin Amis
      Ian McEwan
      Salman Rushdie

      • Luke Smolinski March 6, 2012 at 9:12 PM #

        Thanks David. The first two are truly great, but I regard them as pre-Elizabethans as it were. Russell belongs more to the generation of Wittgenstein, Ayer and Einstein. He nobly struck out against the nuclear age, I grant you, but his greatest works were published way before 1952. Similarly Turing’s greatest works were in the Forties. Would that they could be on the list.

        Thanks for suggesting authors.

        I’m trying to think, have I left any British philosophers/economists/psychologists/thinkers from post-1952 out?

  2. Nathan March 20, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

    Myra Hindley?!

  3. studentbumtosupermum April 8, 2012 at 10:42 PM #

    This would make an amazing topic for a bloggers meme.. With maybe just ‘all-time’ bests and the responses from all the different people would be very interesting!

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