A century where the empires of the past crumbled to make way for new superpowers and a new age. Built on science, exploration, and a desire to express new creative possibilities. A century where the world was drawn into one war after another. But where radio, film, television, cars, planes and finally computers drew us closer together than at any other point in history. It was a century of unprecedented change. Change that was born out of the actions of individuals — what they created, what they discovered, what they destroyed. Who were the 101 people who drove the changes in every aspect of life that made the Twentieth Century and set-up the Twenty-First? A decade and a half since the close of the century we can take a considered look at the people most responsible for the events that changed their world and made ours. In this series we count down -- from a hundred-and-one to number one -- the names of those who, in the judgement of experts, including those who contribute to the series, most influentially shaped the century and our world.
Our first episode proves without a doubt that no one on this list is inconsequential, starting with some of the most infamous faces of the twentieth century and ending with a bang… or a bombshell. Marilyn Monroe features alongside Margaret Thatcher, Marie Curie and more as we count down from 101 to 89 in what is sure to be a controversial start to the series.
From the creators of the world’s first superhero to the most successful female pop artist of the twentieth century, this episode is one of the most dynamic and diverse in the series. But it doesn’t end at pop icons. Peacemakers, warmongers and athletes all claim a place in the second episode.
In Episode Three we count down from 75 to 63 and showcase some of the most surprising characters in our showcase. From Josephine Baker, who walked along Paris streets with her pet cheetah, to leaders who have forever changed their countries and our idea of politics. If nothing else this episode shows us that influence can come in many different flavours... some nicer than others.
Counting down from 62 to 50 we list scientists, revolutionaries, Generals… and even “the king”. But Elvis Presley isn’t the only surprise in this episode as he stands shoulder to shoulder with Amelia Earhart, Edwin Hubble and more. This episode touches on some issues which remain vital today and choices that changed the world and the way we live.
If this episode teaches us anything it’s that revolutionaries come in many different forms. All thirteen of our subjects have been pioneers and leaders in their fields and have changed everything, from the way we watch films to how we connect and work. For some the word revolutionary might only be a title but for others, such as Castro and Ghandi, it is far more real. This episode of heroes and villains features some of the most famous and infamous faces of the twentieth century.
The Sixth Episode features some major players from war and peace, from east and west. From inventors who have changed the way we live and fight to artists who have given us reasons to do both, we count through 35 to 24 and cover some of the most influential and infamous people who made the twentieth century – a long reigning monarch, a murderous dictator and the “father of the Atom Bomb”.
From a painter who changed the face of modern art to the most recognised figure of WWII, this episode spans the century, highlighting people of such profound influence that they can reasonably be termed “iconic”. Whether they’re reshaping a nation or reinventing the tools that will forever change the way we live, no one could argue that the Top Twenty are all people who made the twentieth century.
What would the world we live in look like without our Top Ten? It is hard to imagine but one thing’s for sure, in making the twentieth century they have indelibly influenced the world we know today. In our final episode we reveal our picks for the most significant people “Who Made the Twentieth Century”. The results will surprise many. Some will disagree with the choices, everyone will remain gripped up to the final reveal.