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Last on

Wed 28 Dec 2011 11:00 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 28 December 2011

Gyles Brandreth discovers what it takes to become a national treasure and achieve the cultural status of figures like June Whitfield, Sir Alan Bennett and Sir David Attenborough.

Twiggy, Dame Judi Dench and Tony Benn are national treasures. But many other public figures are not.

Gyles sets out to discover the process by which a few personalities - but only a few - get to become one of our celebrity jewels. He finds out whether 'national treasure' status comes down to longevity, eccentricity or several ungainly appearances on Strictly Come Dancing.

He hears from national treasures including Sir Terry Wogan and Dame Edna Everage - who naturally considers herself to be an international treasure - and finds out what our national treasures reveal about British identity and our changing attitudes to heroism, and to our history.

And, using his rigorously devised National Treasure Matrix, Gyles assesses his own chances with an exacting focus group comprising journalist Danny Finkelstein plus writers and broadcasters Natalie Haynes and Bidisha.

Will Gyles's weakness for teddy bears and gaudy jumpers be enough?

Producer: Paula McGinley.


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