Banknote Character Advisory Committee

Our Banknote Character Advisory Committee advises the Governor on the characters that appear on new banknotes.


First, the committee picks the field from which new banknote characters are chosen. Then, we ask the public to nominate people from this field. Next, the committee uses our selection principles and views from public focus groups to reduce the nominations to a shortlist. Finally, the Governor makes the final choice from this shortlist.


Members of the Banknote Character Advisory Committee

The Banknote Character Advisory Committee has five core members, three of whom do not work for the Bank of England.

Once the core committee members have chosen a field from which a new banknote character will be selected, independent members with expertise in the chosen field are invited to join the committee.

PDFAdvisory Committee Terms of Reference

PDFAdvisory Committee Minutes - Polymer £20 note

PDFAdvisory Committee Minutes - Polymer £50 note  

Core committee members

Ben Broadbent: Chairman

Ben is the Bank of England’s Deputy Governor for Monetary Policy. He has responsibility for monetary analysis and banknotes.

Sarah John

Sarah is the Bank of England’s Chief Cashier and Director of Notes. She leads the teams responsible for every aspect of banknotes, from design to distribution and destruction.

Professor Sir David Cannadine

David is a British historian and author who specialises in the political, social, and cultural history of modern Britain and its empire, and the study of history over time. He is currently teaching at Princeton University and is also the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’s General Editor. He has previously been a member of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee and chair of the Blue Plaques Panel.

Sandy Nairne

Sandy was Director of the National Portrait Gallery from 2002 to early 2015. He was previously Director of Programmes at Tate, and has also worked at the Arts Council of Great Britain, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (now Modern Art Oxford). Sandy has previously worked as a curator and writer. He is Chair of the board of the Clore Leadership Programme, and Chairman of the Fabric Advisory Committee of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Baroness Lola Young

Baroness Young began her career in theatre and television, before becoming a writer, cultural critic, public speaker and broadcaster. She was formerly a professor of cultural studies, and Head of Culture at the Greater London Authority. She became an independent member of the House of Lords in 2004. She has sat on the boards of the South Bank Centre, the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts and The National Archives and been a trustee of Somerset House and Commissioner for English Heritage.

  • The three independent members of the committee with expertise in the field of visual arts who helped to choose an artist to appear on the new £20 note are John Akomfrah, Alice Rawsthorn and Andrew Graham-Dixon.

    John Akomfrah is an English artist, writer, film director and screenwriter. He was one of the founders of the Black Audio Film Collective, which was active between 1982 and 1998, and which was dedicated towards examining issues of Black British identity through film and media. From 2001 to 2007 he served as a Governor of the British Film Institute. From 2004 to 2013 he served as a governor of Film London. He was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to the film industry.

    Alice Rawsthorn writes about design in the International New York Times, which syndicates her columns worldwide. She is also a columnist for Frieze magazine, and the author of several books including "Hello World: Where Design Meets Life". A trustee of Arts Council England from 2006 to 2013, Alice is a trustee of the Whitechapel Gallery and the contemporary dance group Michael Clark Company, as well as chair of trustees at the Chisenhale Gallery. She was awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to design and the arts.

    Andrew Graham-Dixon is a leading art critic and has presented a number of landmark series on art for the BBC. He has written a number of acclaimed books, on subjects ranging from medieval painting and sculpture to the art of the present. He has served on the Government Art Collection Committee, the Hayward Advisory Committee, and the board of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.

  • The four independent members of the committee who helped to choose a scientist to appear on the new £50 note are: Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Dr Emily Grossman, Professor Simon Schaffer and Dr Simon Singh.

    Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE is a British space scientist and science educator. She studied at Imperial College London, graduating with a BSc in physics in 1990 and completed her PhD in mechanical engineering in 1994. She has spent her career to date making novel, bespoke instrumentation in both the industrial and academic environments. Aderin-Pocock set up and runs her own company ‘Science Innovation Ltd’. Through this she conducts public engagement activities sharing the wonders of space. To date Maggie has given these presentations to over 250,000 people around the world. As well as public speaking she also works as a TV presenter and since February 2014 she has co-hosted the world’s longest running television series “The Sky at Night”. In 2009 Aderin-Pocock was awarded an MBE for services to science and education. 

    Dr Emily Grossman is an internationally acclaimed science author, public speaker and TV personality. She is an expert in molecular biology and genetics, with a Double First in Natural Sciences from Queens' College Cambridge and a PhD in cancer research. Emily is best known as a Resident Science Expert on ITV's The Alan Titchmarsh Show and Sky1's Duck Quacks Don't Echo, for her fun YouTube videos for BBC Britlab and The Royal Institution, and for her inspirational talks in schools, universities and at live events such as The Hay Festival, The Science Museum and Cheltenham Science Festival. Emily is a passionate advocate for gender equality and diversity in STEM. Last year she was named as the second Honorary STEM Ambassador, alongside astronaut Tim Peake, for her pioneering work in STEM education and as a role model to young people. 

    Professor Simon Schaffer is Professor of History of Science at the University of Cambridge. He has been editor of British Journal for the History of Science and Trustee of the Science Museum. In 2005 he was co-winner of the Erasmus prize. In 2013 he was awarded the Sarton Medal of the History of Science Society and in 2015 the Caird Medal of the National Maritime Museum. His research concentrates on the history of natural philosophy and the physical sciences between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. In 2005-10 he led a collaborative AHRC research project on the history of the Board of Longitude and of the navigational and astronomical sciences. 

    Dr Simon Singh is a British popular science author, theoretical and particle physicist whose works largely contain a strong mathematical element. Simon studied physics at Imperial College in London, before completing a PhD in particle physics at Cambridge University and at CERN, in Switzerland. His first job was with the BBC's Science Department, where he produced and directed many science themed shows, including Horizon and Tomorrow’s World. His show, Fermat's Last Theorem won a BAFTA in 1996 and the related book became a bestseller. Since then, Simon has written multiple other books including The Code Book and The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. Working closely with education projects, Simon has used the UAS scheme to encourage university science departments to work more closely with schools and the Enigma project for conduct maths and cryptography workshops in schools. 

This page was last updated 31 January 2023