With the Bank of England holding a public poll to pick the next face to appear on the new £20 note, one of the UK’s leading voices on popular culture has called for a black Briton to be celebrated on the note, with Welsh singer Dame Shirley Bassey their chosen candidate.

Professor Ellis Cashmore, Visiting Professor of Sociology at Aston University and author of Celebrity Culture and Beyond Black: Celebrity and Race in Obama’s America, says Bassey is the perfect choice as the face of modern British culture.

Professor Cashmore comments:

“Born into poverty to a Nigerian father and Welsh mother, going on to sell more than 130million records and sing no fewer than three Bond theme tunes, she became a diva to compare with the likes of Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Mariah Carey. Dame Shirley Bassey is known and admired around the world; she symbolizes not only a very British kind of success, but the multiculturalism and diversity the British establishment needs to welcome.”


Professor Cashmore argues that “dead white males” have for too long dominated the face of the notes and that the public should back a black British hero on the £20 note. He says:

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“From Paul Ince, the first black England football captain to cricketer and coach Basil D’Oliveira, modern British culture has an array of national treasures that aren’t the usual male, pale and stale stereotypes. We should reflect the achievements of people like Ince, D’Oliveira, and yes, Dame Shirley by putting their faces on that very British symbol, the £20 note.”

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