Now, to mark the Diamond Jubilee, Radio 4 looks back over the span of Queen Elizabeth II's reign so far In order to identify and profile 60 Elizabethans who have helped to define the era and whose achievements seem likely to stand the test of time.
Much like its hugely successful predecessor, A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil McGregor, this new series will be a series of fifteen minute documentary profiles which will identify the sixty New Elizabethan, from all walks of life in British society. The project itself was launched early in the new year with a series of on air and online debates about who should be chosen. Listeners will also be invited to make nominations and take part in the debates, although the final sixty will be decided by a panel of historians. James Naughtie will write and present the series of radio profiles that will be transmitted starting in June and ending in September.
The series will amount to a major portrait of most of the post-war period, highlighting its most significant figures and the most important areas of achievement in British life. The programmes will also be available on BBC iPlayer, as well as being repeated every weekend in a full omnibus edition. With unique access to the Radio 4 production process, and the scripts written by James Naughtie, the book will be published very soon after the final show has aired. It will be the perfect guide for anyone interested in our recent history, as well as those who wish to continue the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of HM The Queen.
As Jim Naughtie comments: "For my part, the challenge of trying to catch the character and the essence of these 60 people is going to be a thrill. I was born just before the Queen's accession, so this history is mine too. The New Elizabethans have built the country that I live in, given it colour and life and, in part, made us all the people that we are."