Radio 4 discovers The New Elizabethans

This is going to be an exciting journey into our recent past. Trying to find the 60 people who've left the most indelible marks on the second Elizabethan age is going to be a challenge, but fun.”James Naughtie
Date: 13.02.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.58
Category: Radio 4
To mark the Diamond Jubilee, writer and broadcaster James Naughtie will profile 60 public figures who have made the greatest impact on these islands during The Queen's reign and whose deeds will stand the test of time. The profiles will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 during the summer.

Radio 4 listeners will be invited to suggest people who have defined the past six decades and illuminated the character of the age. These will be passed to a panel of historians who will add their own suggestions before debating and deciding on the final list of The New Elizabethans.

James Naughtie says: "This is going to be an exciting journey into our recent past. Trying to find the 60 people who've left the most indelible marks on the second Elizabethan age is going to be a challenge, but fun. We hope listeners will deluge us with suggestions and we'll try to reflect all the diversity of our last six decades - men and women in politics, entertainment, the arts, sport, business, science, academe, and anywhere else who've helped to make us who we are.

“Writing 60 profiles of these people is going to be an adventure. Some names will be obvious, and I hope some will be obscure. But they will all tell a story - about ingenuity or courage, brilliance or sheer luck. They'll help to explain us to ourselves. The result will be a radio portrait of our age. I can't wait to get started.”

The panel will be chaired by Lord Hall (Tony Hall), Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House. Its members will be looking for the great achievers who, like Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare and Francis Drake from the first Elizabethan era 400 years ago, have stamped their names in the history books. Like their Elizabethan forebears they will be remembered down the years for changing the way we live and think, for entertaining and amazing us.

Gwyneth Williams, Controller, BBC Radio 4, says: “The search is on at Radio 4 for the brightest and best among us; for those who have made a lasting impact on the way we live now. I am delighted to broadcast, in the Diamond Jubilee year, The New Elizabethans, which will examine the last 60 years through exceptional individuals chosen by our listeners and a panel of eminent historians.”

Tony Hall, Chair of the panel, says: “I am absolutely thrilled to have been asked to chair the panel selecting 60 remarkable men and women who have done extraordinary things during Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

“It’s going to be a real challenge to whittle the list down to just 60 people as there are so many individuals across sport, the arts, science, technology, the community and other areas who are deserving of this recognition. It’s been a time of great technological and cultural change; we’ve seen pioneering advances in science and medicine, and extraordinary feats achieved by British people in the international arena. I'm really looking forward to working on this programme.”

Suggestions on who should make the list can be made via the website - or by emailing thenewelizabethans@bbc.co.uk - up until 5pm on Friday 9 March. Nominees can be from any nationality and from all walks of life, but their impact must have been on British society between 1952 and the present day.

SD