Vox Pop

The cup of tea has been acknowledged by the Government as one of England’s greatest cultural icons, along with the likes of the Magna Carta and the double decker bus. What would you add to Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell’s list?

‘Fox-hunting; a touchstone to ignite the strongest feelings in a schizophrenic Government; a national pageant as redolently ancient and photographic as any Buckingham Palace guardsmen; or a ready-made soapbox topic venting spleen in allegiance to small, furry animals. Support halal butchers, castigate a rural way of life. Yet for export value? Fifty years of pictorial placemats can’t be bad business.’

Howard Milton, Chairman, Smith & Milton

‘Chicken tikka masala. However, like all rounded cultures, we should have an eclectic selection of icons that celebrates the breadth of English culture – Pimms, bangers and mash, dickie-bow ties and, of course, that icon of the true English gent, Terry Thomas: “Ding-dong!”‘

Scott McGuffie, Creative director, Arthur Steen Adamson

‘Established icons such as black cabs, Big Ben, Wimbledon, strawberries and cream, rose gardens and village cricket matches are at risk of being overshadowed by the new upstarts: curry and chips, St George’s flag, Man U kit, David Beckham, The Streets, Mr Bean, Jimmy Choo, The Office, Jamie Oliver, Pop Idol, Jordan…’

Fiona Gilmore, Founding partner, Acanchi

‘When abroad I often note a fascination for our sense of humour. Spike Milligan represents inventive, irreverent humour, tinged with crazed absurdity; over-confident, yet perversely self-deprecating. In reality, though, the icon that really endures abroad is Monty Python, but they’d nominate Spike too, surely?’

Professor Malcolm Garrett, Creative director, Immersion Studios

‘Heathrow is still the world’s busiest airport, so I guess one of our greatest cultural icons should be the airport waiting lounge, ugh.’

Simon Waterfall, Creative director, Poke

‘It’s hard to separate wishful thinking from reality – we share with most countries the problem of the world-at-large’s fond recognition of ancient rather than modern things. Someone who embodies both, with a sense of irony that could only be bred in these isles, genteel and rude at the same time, is Vivienne Westwood.’

Emily Campbell, Head of design, British Council

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