chapter
4 Pages

Heroes 22

WithPrincess Diana

A pragmatic way of looking at British identity and of examining the aspirations of ordinary people is to look at the kind of contemporary heroes they have created. These heroes reveal a lot about the people who have created them. They reflect how people would like to be themselves, or what they see as admirable in others. As a group, heroes represent the values of their culture. Significantly this cynical age has thrown up many anti-heroes or stage villains, such as ‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman from Big Brother, and Anne Robinson from The Weakest Link. Previous generations tended to admire Establishment figures or politicians, such as Churchill or Macmillan, but today sports people tend to predominate. For example Sally Gunnell, the hurdler, is also well known outside her sport. Others well known enough outside their sports to appear in television advertisements are: Frank Bruno the boxer, Gary Lineker and Vinnie Jones the footballers, Steve Redgrave the Olympic rower and Steve Davis the snooker player. Steve Redgrave won five Olympic medals for rowing at successive Olympic games. In 2001 it took him around six hours to run the London Marathon because so many well-wishers impeded his progress. As a national hero he embodied virtues of doggedness and determination, good humour and stability which even the MTV generation of slackers can evidently relate to.