News & Blog

The New £50 note - it's Turing

Posted on Mon, 15 July 2019 by Phil Mussell - General News, Banknote News

In what some will see as a controversial move, the face of the new £50 has been decided - and it's going to be mathematician Alan Turing!

The wartime codebreaker, known to many following Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of him in the film "The Imitation Game",  was chosen after a ballot in which the public was asked to choose a shortlist of famous names for the Bank of England to decide on- the only stipulation being that the new face of the fifty was going to be a scientist, and of course, they couldn't be alive!

There had been an assumption that the new £50 note would portray a female scientist, with names like that of paleontologist Mary Anning being put forward, thus giving our notes a certain symmetry (two women and two men) but in the end, Turing was chosen. There was also a campaign to include someone from the black and ethnic Minority background (BAME) on the new note but the sheer nature of British history meant that might have proved difficult.  Turing is, of course, the first gay man to appear on a British note, he had suffered greatly under previous laws that made homosexuality illegal, having been convicted of gross indecency and chemically castrated in 1952 following his affair with a young man. He was granted a full Royal pardon in 2013.  

The new note, which is expected to enter circulation in 2021, will be the final one to make the switch to polymer from linen paper following the introduction, next year, of the new £20 which will feature the painter JMW Turner. 

Image courtesy of the Bank of England