new elizabethans

In this Diamond Jubilee year, we’ve been swamped with Queen-related content on tv and radio and in newspapers, magazines and online.

Perhaps one of the most interesting celebrations of the past 60 years is the current BBC Radio 4 series ‘the New Elizabethans.’

A panel of historians has a chosen 60 people who ‘have had a significant impact on lives in these islands and given the age its character, for better or worse.’

It’s the sort of list that is guaranteed to divide – but it’s good to see a decent representation of musicians and figures from the world of arts and entertainment, and popular culture.

So in coming editions, we’re promised Lennon and McCartney, David Bowie, Tony Hancock, Vivienne Westwood, David Hockney, Billy Connolly, Simon Cowell, Goldie, Roald Dahl, Margot Fonteyn, Barbara Windsor, Philip Larkin, Harold Pinter, Laurence Olivier and Graham Greene

Listening to yesterday’s edition about Benjamin Britten, I can’t honestly say I learned anything new.

But James Naughtie’s scripts are always worth hearing, and it’s interesting to see what he chooses to highlight about his subject as much as what he doesn’t.

The transmission slot – weekdays at 1245 – has attracted criticism for being slightly off the beaten track for such a major undertaking.

But the iPlayer is always there for such occasions, and the person/people who developed that project certainly deserve their place in an alternative list of New Elizabethans.

Benjamin Britten – Dawn – from Sea Interludes/’Peter Grimes’

The New Elizabethans – Benjamin Britten – BBC iPlayer

The New Elizabethans – full list

One Response to “new elizabethans”

  1. Graeme Walker says:

    It is a brilliant series and the days that I fail to get my lunch ready and fail to hear ‘The New Elizabethans’ are much the poorer.

    I like the way James Naughtie highlights many interesting and unusual features – my only criticism is that I would have liked one or two New Elizabethans who had a specific Christian influence! Yes there were those of the Christian faith among them, but Lord Soper, Leslie Weatherhead, John Stott, an archbishop – Anthony Bloom, a Habgood, a Williams – would have rounded the whole and made, I feel, a more complete circle.

    Thank you for a memorable series.

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