Nelson Mandela

The field of potential winners for the BBC Icons Competition is tightening. The first four episodes have been aired, and 20th century giants like Neil Armstrong and Marie Curie have been eliminated; perhaps most surprisingly, so has Britain’s wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill, who lost out to Nelson Mandela.

Churchill was the early favourite to win the entire competition, having won the Greatest Briton award in 2002 in a similar BBC contest. However, as previously reported, he was in a particularly tough group, one which also contained American President Franklin D. Roosevelt and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Mandela Odds-On

Mandela’s victory has put him in pole position to win the whole competition. Paddy Power is currently quoting odds of 10/11 on the former South African president and symbol of reconciliation being selected by the public as the greatest icon of them all.

Second favourite is computer science pioneer Alan Turing at 9/2, with Dr Martin Luther King Jr third at 6/1. The activist episode is yet to be aired, and King will have to get past a strong field which includes Mohandas Gandhi, suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and Helen Keller.

Albert Einstein is the fourth favourite at 6/1, despite having lost to Turing in the scientist category, and thus not being eligible to win the competition.