THE PEOPLE WHO PUT THE Great into Britain; as BBC2 Unveils Great Britons, 10 Celebrities Exclusively Nominate Their Heroes. by Jill Foster and Tamsin Smith

Article excerpt

Byline: Jill Foster and Tamsin Smith

SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL Politician (1874-1965) Vinnie Jones

Actor and former footballer says:

For me, he was the greatest ever Briton. As the nation's leader during the Second World War, he battled the general political opinion that Britain should sign a treaty with the Nazis and was totally opposed to giving in to Hitler. His charisma and personality kept Britain fighting against all the odds. Sadly, it seems most people have forgotten how close we were to being invaded. He also won the Nobel prize for literature, was more than a handy sportsman and cracking company. He achieved all this and put it into words that still are the most inspiring in the English language. A true Brit.

ELIZABETH I Queen (1533-1603) Esther Rantzen

TV presenter says:

She was a scholar, a politician, a religious reformer and a woman. During her reign the arts flourished, the middle classes were created and she held the nation together. She did all this despite inheriting chaos and extremes of religious intolerance and having a father who killed not only her mother but anyone close to her. That would be enough to drive any woman to become a recluse, but she restored the reputation not just of England and the UK but of women.

MARGARET THATCHER Politician (1925-) Anne Robinson

TV presenter says:

Europe's first female Prime Minister. I have a huge admiration for strong women like Thatcher. She was behind 11 crucial years in the history of this country. I've met her several times and still remember where I was when she lost the premiership. I find her fascinating. The same woman who had the instinct that people wanted to own their own home didn't sense that the poll tax would be her downfall.

SIR ISAAC NEWTON Scientist (1643-1727) Carol Vorderman

TV presenter and columnist says:

I researched and wrote about Newton for a book called How Mathematics Works. He's famous for his theory of gravity, but he was not without controversy. He claimed he invented calculus, a new branch of mathematics, but he was initially accused of stealing the idea. He was a cunning fox, which means I admire him all the more!

SEAN CONNERY Film star (1962-) Trevor Nelson DJ and presenter of MTV Base's The Lick says:

Sean Connery as James Bond was the epitome of cool from the moment the camera panned up from the card table in Dr No and he uttered his immortal line, "Bond, James Bond." For me, 007 was a true British superhero.

SIR FREDDIE LAKER Entrepreneur (1922-) Sir Richard Branson Billionaire businessman says:

He pioneered low-cost travel for people in the UK and all over the world. …