For Anglophiles

Let’s Hear it for British National Treasures

Sir Terry WoganThe all-too-early deaths last month of Alan Rickman and Sir Terry Wogan shook me more than I would ever have guessed. I hadn’t realised either of them were ill, and I certainly didn’t think of them as “old”. Rickman’s talent was the rare kind where he was absolutely compelling in any role, whether romantic hero (Brandon) or sinister shadow (Snape). Meanwhile, for several years, Wogan’s voice on the radio was often the first I heard in the morning, contributing perhaps to feeling he was, in a funny sort of way, family.

And these two heavy losses made me pause to think: which other British National Treasures do we take for granted? Who else should we pause to appreciate, while we still have them? Perhaps tweet to tell them of their special place in our hearts, maybe even queue for tickets for their next theatre performance?

British TreasuresI brainstormed this quick list:

  • Rowan Atkinson, CBE; Jim Broadbent; John Cleese; Michael Crawford, CBE;
  • Sir Sean Connery; Dame Judi Dench; David Jason, OBE; Dame Penelope Keith;
  • Felicity Kendal, CBE; Maureen Lipman, CBE; Dame Helen Mirren; Geoffrey Palmer, OBE;
  • Patricia Routledge, CBE; Dame Maggie Smith; Delia Smith, CBE; Julie Walters, CBE.

And of course, you don’t have to be silver-haired to be a national treasure. May I also add:

  • Rowan Atkinson, CBE; Huw Edwards; Dawn French;
  • Hugh Grant; Sir Lenny Henry; Nigella Lawson;
  • Gary Lineker, OBE; Emma Thompson; Kate Winslet, CBE.

I could go on. In fact, I’ve probably skipped someone who is so beloved, they should be on a gold pedestal in Piccadilly Circus. But I’m comforted that, while the people we’ve lost are irreplaceable, Britain’s national talent is plentiful, varied and very, very treasured.

Who would you add to my lists?

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9 Comment

  1. Reply
    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    February 7, 2016 at 10:00 am

    I adore Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt, and the cast and crew of Downton Abbey. Don’t know how I’ll survive when this epic period drama draws to a close in a few short weeks.

    Though born in Cairo, Egypt, I think Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford is certainly a British National Treasure!

    1. Reply
      Pauline Wiles
      February 8, 2016 at 8:25 am

      Great point, Julie: the cast & crew of Downton are pretty close to earning “treasure” status. Julian Fellowes appears so multi-talented he definitely qualifies!

  2. Reply
    April J Harris
    February 8, 2016 at 7:53 am

    I absolutely agree, Pauline, we are so lucky to have so many talented, personable British people in the public eye. I too was very taken aback by Alan Rickman and David Bowie’s deaths, and particularly by the death of dear Terry Wogan, who as you say, feels almost like family. Even typing this I can remember his amazing voice. This is a lovely post and a great reminder for us to support all the fantastic British talent out there!

  3. Reply
    Brea Brown
    February 8, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Excellent point and quite thought-provoking. During the horrible spate of deaths in the first few weeks of this year, all I kept thinking was, “If Colin Firth goes before me, I will have to take a leave of absence from life.” And I’m not exaggerating. That probably says a lot about me (not all good), but it’s true. I love that man and his work (most of it) and can’t imagine the world without him in it.

    1. Reply
      Pauline Wiles
      February 8, 2016 at 10:00 am

      Oh my gosh, Brea, COLIN FIRTH! Yes, absolutely. I do *not* want to ever wake up and find that news headline.

  4. Reply
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
    February 10, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Pauline, I especially like Geoffrey Palmer, Penelope Keith, Felicity Kendal and, one not listed, Peter Bowles. And, of course, Colin Firth–well, that just goes without saying, doesn’t it?!

    1. Reply
      Pauline Wiles
      February 10, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      Jean – I’m whispering here: I’m devastated I skipped Peter Bowles. I half thought (hangs head) we’d lost him already.
      I realise now I was probably thinking of Paul Eddington & Richard Briers from The Good Life, also known in the US as Good Neighbors. Penelope Keith and Felicity Kendal were terrific in that.

  5. Reply
    April 22, 2016 at 9:33 am

    The sad losses of 2016 continue, with Victoria “flameproof nightie” Wood and Ronnie “four candles” Corbett joining other national treasures in untimely departures. I’ve learned the Daily Telegraph keeps a list. You can find it here:

  6. Reply
    New Novel: Sneak Peek - Pauline Wiles
    September 18, 2019 at 7:11 am

    […] maritime traffic about the weather around the British Isles. But actually, it’s a “national treasure” of soothing tradition, and a much-loved bedtime ritual for thousands of people who have no […]

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