Young people do not recognise Winston Churchill

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New research commissioned by the Royal Mint has revealed that by 2090 future generations will no longer recognise Winston Churchill

As part of the survey, carried out to mark the 70th anniversary of Churchill taking over as prime minister, more than 1,136 people were asked to identify three prominent 20th century PMs including Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

44 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 failed to name Churchill. Using their findings, researchers projected the rough date when the leaders would no longer be recognised, with Churchill's demise predicted in 80 years' time

In the same age group, 16 per cent failed to identify Baroness Thatcher and more than a quarter (27 per cent) were unable to recognise Mr Blair.

If this downward trend were to continue, Gordon Brown's predecessor would be 'extinct' in the public consciousness by 2075, followed by the Iron Lady in 2115, they said.

The survey, which involved people naming black and white headshot photos of the prime ministers, saw Churchill mistaken for Stephen Fry, Robert Hardy, Michael Gambon, Charlie Chaplin, Oliver Hardy, John Betjeman and Roy Hattersley, the Royal Mint said.

And one person even incorrectly identified Tony Blair as David Cameron.

Professor George Jones, Emeritus Professor of British Government at the London School of Economics, said: "There's a complex combination of factors at play when it comes to maintaining prime ministerial longevity and being remembered as a great British leader.

"For long-lasting impact and to cement your position in the public consciousness, certain character and personality traits such as potency and decisiveness must be apparent and proven crisis-handling demonstrated.

"If the new Prime Minister wants to secure his place in history, he must bear these things in mind."

Data was collected according to five age groups - 16 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, and 55+ - then researchers worked out what the percentage recognition was of each age group when they were 16-24.

The results were plotted on a graph going back to 1970, when the oldest age group was 16-24, and a 'line of best fit' was calculated to the point where recognition was at 0 per cent - the year of 'extinction'.

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