Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

The live final of the series exploring the achievements of some of the greatest figures of the 20th century. The public vote for who they believe should be called the greatest.

In this live final hosted by Claudia Winkleman and Nick Robinson, the celebrity advocates return to fight their winning icon's case, and the public vote for the person they think was the greatest figure of the 20th century. Further information and debate can be found across the BBC to help viewers decide which of the seven finalists to vote for.

During his illustrious broadcasting career, Sir Trevor McDonald has interviewed many of the top politicians of our time. He argues that 'the ultimate icon should be a political leader due to the commitment of their desire to be of service to their community, to their society, or to their nation'.

Dermot O'Leary believes that it is exploration that has had the most profound effect on the world around us and our place in it: 'Explorers have taken us on a journey from conquest to understanding. The work of explorers has changed how we see our world and ourselves'.

Chris Packham argues that a scientist should be crowned winner because 'whatever the century threw at us, scientists found a way to save the day. I want to celebrate their genius and show how, through great personal sacrifice, they were able to propel humanity forwards.'

Kathleen Turner wants an entertainer to win the public's vote: 'They may not be leaders - but they still led the way.' She argues that it is the audience that turn entertainers into stars, which makes them 'icons in the truest sense - because they already belong to us'.

Sanjeev Bhaskar is fighting for an activist to be the icon of the 20th century because 'they were trailblazers who gave dignity to the debased and helped move power from the few to the many'. These were people, he says, 'that at great personal cost inspired thousands, millions to do the same as them'.

Clare Balding thinks a sports star should be crowned the public's icon because 'sport (...) is a true meritocracy which rewards achievement without favour or judgement. There are a few individuals in the last century who made the most of their moment in the spotlight to change the world around them and they made a difference to millions of others.'

Lily Cole argues that an artist or writer deserves to be voted the winner: 'I believe good artists - whether film-makers, writers, painters or sculptors - push the boundaries of our culture, reflecting the times and also signposting new directions for society.'

Who will the greatest icon be? Voting opens near the start of the programme and there will be two ways to cast your vote: by telephone (details are outlined during the final) or via the series website. The winner is announced at the end of the final.

59 minutes

Last on

Fri 5 Jul 2019 02:15

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:21

    Die Elfen

    Der Fluch Des Schicksalswebers - Teil 09

  • 00:24

    David Bowie

    The Jean Genie

  • 00:24

    David Bowie

    Life On Mars?

  • 00:27

    Chris Hadfield

    Space Oddity (Bonus Track)

  • 00:28

    Frankie Valli, The Jersey Boys

    On Broadway

  • 00:59

    Mntrice Project



Role Contributor
Interviewed Guest Clare Balding
Production Company 72 Films
Interviewed Guest Sanjeev Bhaskar
Director James Morgan
Interviewed Guest Lily Cole
Executive Producer David Glover
Interviewed Guest Trevor McDonald
Executive Producer Cate Hall
Interviewed Guest Dermot O'Leary
Executive Producer Francesca Maudslay
Interviewed Guest Chris Packham
Producer Emma Jay
Interviewed Guest Kathleen Turner
Presenter Claudia Winkleman
Presenter Nick Robinson


  • Tue 5 Feb 2019 21:00
  • Wed 20 Feb 2019 00:15
  • Fri 5 Jul 2019 02:15

Explore how impactful icons are and discover the truth behind their reputations

Explore how impactful icons are and discover the truth behind their reputations

Visit our interactive pages to uncover the real people behind iconic figures

Discover a free collection of portraits of iconic figures from the 20th century

Discover a free collection of portraits of iconic figures from the 20th century

Visit the Gallery and pick up a free booklet or download from the link above