Lara Croft becomes Britain's latest scientific role model

BRITAIN HAS a new ambassador for scientific excellence. Educated at Cheltenham Ladies College and barely out of her teens, her appointment might appear to be a blow both for youth and for political correctness.

But that would overlook her tendency to carry an Uzi submachine-gun, shoot people without asking their names, and wear sketchy clothes to cover her pneumatic figure. The new "ambassador", nominated today by the Science minister Lord Sainsbury, is Lara Croft - the digital heroine of the Tomb Raider computer game.

The choice might seem an unusual move by the Government, although given its disappointment earlier this month when the actress Emma Thompson declined its invitation to be a role model for young women, perhaps it decided that imaginary people are more biddable than real ones - apart from backbench MPs, of course.

Lord Sainsbury, however, is certain she is the right person for the job of representing the multi-billion pound British science base to the rest of the world. In a speech today to the Social Market Foundation about "Science and the Knowledge Economy", he is dismissive of previous promotional efforts for British science, which have "plumped for the safe option - Stephenson's Rocket rather than the Psion Organiser".

To reverse this, he says: "I want people to think of scientific achievements such as Thrust, the first supersonic car, rather than Stephenson or Faraday. I want Lara Croft of Tomb Raider to be an ambassador for British scientific excellence."

While Ms Croft is hardly in a position to refuse, she is often less than diplomatic. In the game she is a sort of female Indiana Jones who dispatches opponents with little negotiation and lots of gunfire. It is always possible that if she succeeds as an envoy for British science, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, will appoint her as an ambassador to excellence among hereditary peers.

However, the 10 million or so Tomb Raider players worldwide - most of them adolescent boys - tend to associate her with a different kind of excellence. Many have speculated about whether any "scenes" in the games would reveal her nude; some have even gone so far as to create them, using graphics software.

For Ms Croft, the latest appointment follows her being given "Millennium Product" status by the Design Council, granting her a place in the Millennium Dome. Nobody was available yesterday from Core Design, which devised Ms Croft in 1996, to say whether there will be revised "ambassador of British science" versions of Ms Croft - perhaps with Union Jack clothes - in future.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test