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100 Greatest Britons was broadcast in 2002 by the BBC. The programme was the result of a vote conducted to determine whom the United Kingdommarker public considers the greatest British people have been in history. The series, Great Britons, included individual programmes on the top ten, with viewers having further opportunities to vote after each programme. It concluded with a debate. All of the top 10 were deceased by the year of broadcast.

The poll resulted in candidates including Guy Fawkes, who was executed for trying to blow up the Parliament of England; Oliver Cromwell who created a republican England; King Richard III, suspected of murdering his nephews; James Connolly, an Irish nationalist and socialist who was executed by the Crown in 1916; and a surprisingly high ranking for former Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em star Michael Crawford in 17th. In addition to the Britons, some notable non-British entrants were listed, including two Irishmarker nationals, the philanthropic musicians Bono and Bob Geldof. Furthermore, many candidates were from an era in which Britishness did not exist. The top 19 entries were people of English origin (though Sir Ernest Shackleton and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, were both born into Anglo-Irish families when what is now the Republic of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. The highest-placed Scottishmarker entry was Alexander Fleming in 20th place, with the highest Welshmarker entry, Owain Glyndŵr, at number 23. Sixty had lived in the twentieth century. The highest-ranked living person was Margaret Thatcher, who placed 16th. Ringo Starr is the only member of The Beatles not on the list.

List

Due to the nature of the poll used to select and rank the Britons, the results do not pretend to be an objective assessment. They are as follows:(People marked (*) also appeared on the 100 Worst Britons list compiled by Channel 4.)
  1. Winston Churchill, (1874-1965), Prime Minister (1940-1945, 1951–1955)
  2. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, (1806–1859), engineer, creator of Great Western Railway and other significant works
  3. Diana, Princess of Wales (1961–1997), first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (1981–1996), and mother of Princes William and Harry of Walesmarker
  4. Charles Darwin (1809–1882), naturalist, originator of the theory of evolution through natural selection and author of On the Origin of Species.
  5. William Shakespeare (1564–1616), Englishmarker poet and playwright, thought of by many as the greatest of all writers.
  6. Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727), physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, and alchemist.
  7. Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603), monarch (reigned 1558-1603)
  8. John Lennon (1940–1980), musician with The Beatles, philanthropist, peace activist, artist
  9. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson (1758–1805), naval commander
  10. Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), Lord Protector
  11. Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874–1922), polar explorer
  12. Captain James Cook (1728–1779), explorer
  13. Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell (1857–1941), founder of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides
  14. Alfred the Great (849?–899), King of Wessex, (reigned 871–899)
  15. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), military commander, statesman and Prime Minister 1828–1830 and 1834
  16. Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (*3) (born 1925), Prime Minister (1979–1990)
  17. Michael Crawford (born 1942), actor and singer
  18. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (1819–1901), monarch (reigned 1837–1901)
  19. Sir Paul McCartney (1942), musician with The Beatles, philanthropist, activist
  20. Sir Alexander Fleming (1881–1955), biologist and pharmacologist, discoverer of penicillin
  21. Alan Turing (1912–1954), pioneer of computing
  22. Michael Faraday (1791–1867), scientist
  23. Owain Glyndŵr (1359–1416), Prince of Wales
  24. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (*10) (born 1926), reigning monarch (1952–present)
  25. Professor Stephen Hawking (born 1942), theoretical physicist
  26. William Tyndale (1494–1536), English translator of the Bible
  27. Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928), suffragette
  28. William Wilberforce (1759–1833), humanitarian
  29. David Bowie (born 1947), musician
  30. Guy Fawkes (1570–1606), English revolutionary.
  31. Leonard Cheshire, Baron Cheshire (1917–1992), aviator and charity organiser
  32. Eric Morecambe (1926–1984), comedian
  33. David Beckham (*91) (born 1975), footballer
  34. Thomas Paine (1737–1809), political philosopher
  35. Boudica (died c.60), leader of Celtic resistance to the Roman Empire
  36. Sir Steve Redgrave (born 1962), Olympic rower
  37. Saint Thomas More (1478–1535), English saint, lawyer and politician
  38. William Blake (1757–1827), author/poet, painter and printer
  39. John Harrison (1693–1776), clock designer
  40. King Henry VIII of England (1491–1547), monarch (reigned 1509–1547)
  41. Charles Dickens (1812–1870), author
  42. Sir Frank Whittle (1907–1996), jet engine inventor
  43. John Peel (1939–2004), broadcaster
  44. John Logie Baird (1888–1946), television pioneer
  45. Aneurin Bevan (1897–1960), Labour politician who oversaw the formation of the National Health Service
  46. Boy George (born 1961), musician with Culture Club
  47. Sir Douglas Bader (1910–1982), aviator and charity campaigner
  48. Sir William Wallace (c.1270–1305), Guardian of Scotland
  49. Sir Francis Drake (c.1540–1596), English naval commander
  50. John Wesley (1703–1791), founder of Methodism
  51. King Arthur, legendary Celtic monarch
  52. Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), nurse and charity campaigner
  53. T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) (1888–1935), Arabist and soldier
  54. Robert Falcon Scott (1868–1912), polar explorer
  55. Enoch Powell (1912–1998), politician
  56. Sir Cliff Richard (*29) (born 1940), musician
  57. Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922), telephone pioneer, placed 9th in the Canadian version
  58. Freddie Mercury (1946–1991), musician with Queen
  59. Dame Julie Andrews (born 1935), actress and singer
  60. Sir Edward Elgar (1857–1934), composer
  61. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900–2002), Queen consort
  62. George Harrison (1943–2001), musician with The Beatles
  63. Sir David Attenborough (born 1926), broadcaster
  64. James Connolly (1868–1916), the Scottish born leader of the Irish 1916 rising
  65. George Stephenson (1781–1848), railway pioneer
  66. Sir Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977), comic actor and film director
  67. Tony Blair (*1) (born 1953), Prime Minister (1997–2007)
  68. William Caxton (c.1415~1422–c.1492), English printer
  69. Bobby Moore (1941–1993), footballer and Captain of England 1966 World Cup winning team
  70. Jane Austen (1775–1817), author
  71. William Booth (1829–1912), founder of Salvation Army
  72. King Henry V of England (1387–1422), monarch (reigned 1413–1422)
  73. Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), occultist, writer, and social provocateur; founder of Thelema
  74. Robert the Bruce (1274–1329), King of Scots
  75. Bob Geldof (born 1951), Irish musician, philanthropist
  76. The Unknown Warriormarker, soldier of the Great War
  77. Robbie Williams (*17) (born 1974), musician and former member of Take That
  78. Edward Jenner (1749–1823), pioneer of vaccination
  79. David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd George (1863–1945), Prime Minister (1916–1922)
  80. Charles Babbage (1791–1871), mathematician and pioneer of computing
  81. Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343–1400), English author
  82. King Richard III of England (1452–1485), monarch (reigned 1483–1485)
  83. J.K. Rowling (born 1965), author of the Harry Potter Series
  84. James Watt (1736–1819), developer of the steam engine
  85. Sir Richard Branson (*86) (born 1950), businessman and adventurer
  86. Bono (born 1960), Irish musician - Singer for Rock Band U2, philanthropist
  87. John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) (born 1956), musician
  88. Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887–1976), military commander
  89. Donald Campbell (1921–1967), water speed world record challenger
  90. King Henry II of England (1133–1189), monarch (reigned 1154–1189)
  91. James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879), physicist
  92. J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973), author and philologist
  93. Sir Walter Raleigh (1552–1618), English explorer
  94. King Edward I of England (1239–1307), monarch (reigned 1272–1307)
  95. Sir Barnes Wallis (1887–1979), aviation technology pioneer
  96. Richard Burton (1925–1984), actor 1
  97. Tony Benn (born 1925), politician, formerly the 2nd Viscount Stangate
  98. David Livingstone (1813–1873), missionary and explorer
  99. Sir Tim Berners-Lee (born 1955), Internet pioneer and inventor of the World Wide Web
  100. Marie Stopes (1880–1958), promoter of birth control


Several of these also appear in Channel 4's list of 100 Worst Britons (a tongue in cheek response to this show), due to strongly polarised views on their works, lives or legacies - notably this includes Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and the current monarch, Elizabeth II. Channel 4 refused to take votes for dead figures, with their broadcast considerably lighter in tone.

1There was some question as to whether the Richard Burton listed is the actor or the explorer. A BBC press release makes it clear that they intended the Burton so honoured to be the actor.

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