The suffragettes, the Jarrow marchers, Oswald Mosley and Diana, Princess of Wales, Christine Keeler, Baroness Thatcher, Thomas Hardy and Sid Vicious. These are just some of the photographs that have been selected for an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which will open next year.
The portraits are being chosen by 10 men and women, including Professor Stephen Hawking, Baroness Kennedy QC, Trevor Phillips, Lord Puttnam, Anna Ford, David Bowie and Vivienne Westwood. Each has begun to select 10 images to sum up the century.
So far none has managed to complete a list. Ms Westwood came up with her suggestions then changed her mind and started again. Baroness Kennedy has narrowed it down to "around 40" and Ms Ford has not come up with anybody yet. Mr Phillips is trying to cheat.
The one stipulation is that everyone must be British, but Mr Phillips is trying to sneak the boxer Muhammad Ali past the panel. "I have chosen a picture of Henry Cooper and Muhammad Ali because Ali is one figure that symbolised a change of tone across the globe," he said.
"He is more famous than Diana and he is a really important figure. But the picture is really Henry Cooper and the fight took place in Britain," he added hastily.
Mr Phillips said he was also considering Alan Sugar, and Lord Mountbatten at the ceremony to mark Indian independence, which for Mr Phillips marked the beginning of the end of the empire and symbolised liberation for thousands of people.
Lord Puttnam said he wanted images that showed how Britain had developed into a multi-racial and multi-cultural society and for that reason he had chosen a photo of Oswald Mosley and the East End riots.
"Britain has done remarkably well in turning itself into a multi-cultural society but I wanted to remind people how easy it is to tip into intolerance and that is the greatest threat to our society," he said. He admitted choosing it because it also portrayed his father, Leonard, a photographer for Associated Press.
Baroness Kennedy said her selection would reflect how the lives of women had changed over the last 100 years. "I have Scottish suffragettes and also Vanessa Redgrave and Tariq Ali protesting about the Vietnam War. And of course I will have a picture to symbolise the law."
Professor Hawking said he had concentrated on scientists and women as "the most important people in society", picking Francis Crick, who discovered DNA, Diana, Princess of Wales, Virginia Woolf and Lady Thatcher.
David Bowie, who did not attend yesterday's launch, had chosen Max Wall, Sid Vicious, and McDonald Hobley, a television presenter from the Fifties.
Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, one of the originators of the idea for the exhibition, said he hoped it would provide a significant survey of 20th- century life.
"It may be people who are famous or totally unknown, individuals or groups. We want to cover the whole century ... I hope they will be people who will still be interesting by the end of the next century."Reuse content