Fun Spoiled as Bank Demands a Dead Scientist for New £50 Note

Britain's Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney speaks during a news conference to launch the character selection process for the new £50 note at the Science Museum in London

Britain's Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney speaks during a news conference to launch the character selection process for the new £50 note at the Science Museum in London

Who are the faces of current British notes?

The first British polymer banknote, featuring World War Two leader Winston Churchill on the five pound note, entered circulation in September 2016. The change from paper to plastic brings with it the chance to replace Matthew Boulten and James Watt from the back design, and the Bank of England is looking to do just that.

Professors Stephen Hawking and Dorothy Hodgkin, the only British female to win a Nobel prize for science, are among early proposals for the face of the new £50 note. There are a few ground rules, mind.

A scientist or mathematician - but not an economist - will feature on Britain's next 50 pound banknote following a six-week period starting on Friday in which the public are invited to propose candidates. Who, now played by a female actor for the first time in the British TV show's 55-year history, was inadmissible. This seems wise, given that public votes to name things often end up with Boaty McBoatface.

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James Watt and his business partner Matthew Boulton, who developed and marketed the steam engine in the late 18th century. Hodgkin worked on determining the three-dimensional structures of molecules, notably confirming the structure of penicillin, vitamin B12 and later on insulin. As well as several political figures showing support for this motion, a petition on change.org has gained 17,000 signatures for her to be considered for the spot on the note.

Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney will pick someone to feature on the new polymer note from the shortlist and the victor will be announced in 2019 along with a conceptual design.

While many will not have a £50 note burning a hole in their pocket, the Bank says some 330 million are in circulation. Noor Khan would have been the only ethnic minority to feature on a Bank of England bank note.

"There is a wealth of individuals whose work has shaped how we think about the world", Carney said at an event at London's Science Museum to launch the public consultation on who will feature on the banknote.

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