David Attenborough, David Bowie, Queen Elizabeth II and Samuel Pepys have all been named in a list of the Greatest Londoners of all time.
David Attenborough emerged victorious in a poll of 500 London inhabitants and 1,500 adults from elsewhere in the UK, followed by David Bowie and Queen Elizabeth II.
Queen Elizabeth II was joined on the list by great-great grandmother Queen Victoria and the last Tudor monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.
London diarist Samuel Pepys, influential poet Geoffrey Chaucer and football legend David Beckham also made it into the top 10.
Interestingly, Benedict Cumberbatch, who has inspired a cult following for his portrait of Sherlock Holmes languishes at 28, whilst Michael Caine comes in at 5 and Stephen Fry at 12.
David Attenborough, Cultural Icon, Environmentalist and BBC Superstar
Sir David Attenborough, who first came to prominence presenting Zoo Quest in 1954, has fronted and produced a plethora of multi, award winning natural history series, and nature documentaries for the BBC and is viewed not just as the greatest Londoner, but as our greatest living Englishman. Just like her majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 and the BBC World Service, Attenborough is seen as the man who encompasses all that is good about Great Britain. He is celebrated as the jewel in the BBC’s wildlife programming and has been its undisputed star for more than 60 years. The BBC is currently working on plans to celebrate Attenborough’s ninetieth birthday and David told me in an interview that he has absolutely no plans to retire.
Beloved children’s writer Beatrix Potter, World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and The Who drummer Keith Moon were other notable figures to appear in the top 50 countdown.
The Greatest Icons in British History
Finbarr Whooley, Director of Content at the Museum of London, said: “Some of the most iconic people in British history have called London their home, and it is amazing to see such a variety of skills and personalities in this list of greats.
“Athletes, filmmakers, novelists, musicians and royals; London and its rich history have provided inspiration for some of the city’s most legendary residents.”
In order to be considered one of London’s greatest, two thirds of those surveyed believe that having the ability to inspire people is the most important trait for the person to have, followed by their contribution to their chosen field.
Being a Londoner – It’s In Your Blood
When it comes to being considered a Londoner, most believe that it’s in your blood. Fifty-five per cent believe that you have to be born in the city to call yourself a true Londoner, but knowing the Tube map by heart and being at ease in hectic crowds will help your case.
A true Londoner also knows the best secret hotspots and restaurants in the city, is able to navigate around the most tourist-heavy areas and misses the Big Smoke whenever they take a trip away.
Almost half of Brits believe that living in a major city increases your chances of doing something world-changing with your life, with fifty-eight per cent citing better access to diverse cultures as the reason for this.
Fifty six per cent think that more networking opportunities with people who could benefit your career help city dwellers on their way to greatness, while a third put it down to the inspiring surroundings in urban areas.
Cities Offer More Career Opportunities, and Inspiring, World-Class Museums and Culture
Two thirds agree that the most attractive aspect of city living is that there is always lots to see and do, followed by the wider range of work opportunities and chances to advance your career.
Seventy-nine per cent consider crowds and congestion the biggest drawback to the metropolitan lifestyle, while two thirds are irked by the higher rent and living costs.
London’s World-Class Landmarks and Tourist Attractions
London’s landmarks are still considered the best reason to visit the city by visitors. Half of those surveyed visit London to see the world-famous sights while 40% take a tour of the city’s museums and galleries.
Finbarr Whooley, from the Museum of London, added: “The hustle and bustle of London’s streets has always provided fertile ground for the making of history. From our ancient ancestors, rebuilding through catastrophes like the Great Fire of London, right up to the triumph of the 2012 London Olympics, here at the Museum of London we capture what makes life in our capital so great.”
About The Museum of London
The Museum of London tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000 BC to the present day. Our galleries, exhibitions, displays and activities seek to inspire a passion for London and provide a sense of the vibrancy that makes the city such a unique place.
The museums are open daily 10am – 6pm and are FREE to all, and you can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added. www.museumoflondon.org.uk
Top 50 Greatest Londoners of All Time
1. David Attenborough
2. David Bowie
3. Elizabeth II
4. Queen Victoria
5. Michael Caine
6. Elizabeth I
7. Samuel Pepys
8. David Beckham
9. Geoffrey Chaucer
10. Charlie Chaplin
11. Alfred Hitchcock
12. Stephen Fry
13. Bobby Moore
14. Beatrix Potter
15. Michael Faraday
16. Tim Berners-Lee
17. Enid Blyton
18. Elton John
19. Thomas Beckett
20. Helen Mirren
21. John Keats
22. Tom Hardy
23. Alan Sugar
24. William Blake
25. Idris Elba
26. Christopher Lee
27. Lord Byron
28. Benedict Cumberbatch
29. Alec Guinness
30. Gary Oldman
31. Roger Moore
32. Bruce Forsyth
33. Clement Attlee
34. Mary Shelley
35. Kate Moss
36. Virginia Woolf
38. Oliver Reed
39. Ray Davies
40. Naomi Campbell
41. Marc Bolan
42. Daniel Day Lewis
43. Jimmy Page
44. Lennox Lewis
45. Elvis Costello
46. Sid Vicious
47. Christopher Nolan
48. Keith Moon
49. John Lydon
50. Ian Dury
Top 10 Signs of a True Londoner
1. Being born in London
2. Knowing the tube lines by heart
3. Being comfortable in crowds
4. Knowing all the places to avoid for crowds and tourists
5. Missing London when you are away from the city
6. Embracing changing situations, thriving in the chaos around you
7. Knowing London Underground etiquette
8. Knowing all the best secret hotspots and restaurants in your area
9. Standing on the correct side of escalators
10. Being happy to live in a smaller place without a garden