Wednesday 20 April 2016 3:50 pm

Who's going to be on the Bank of England's new £20 note? Beatrix Potter, JMW Turner and Banksy are all in the running, but David Bowie is not

So long, Adam Smith. We hardly knew ye. 

The father of modern economics may have given us the foundations of the free market, but he's being unceremoniously ditched by the Bank of England as the face of the £20 this week.  Not that he's in bad company, mind – others who have been loved and lost by the nation by gracing the note include William Shakespeare, Michael Faraday and Edward Elgar.

But, still, the question on everybody's lips is who is Smith going to be replaced by?

The BoE took nominations from the public and received almost 30,000 votes for 590 different names so the potential pool of successors is wide. Here are some of the contenders for Friday's big reveal…

JMW Turner

Famous grump-slash-genius Joseph Turner may not have been the nicest of people but he certainly inspired art-lovers in their millions. 

He was named one of the favourites by bookies last summer and as the Bank has said it wants a visual artist for its new £20 he stands a very good chance. Will the controversial figure take the final step towards becoming a fully fledged national treasure?

And if so, will it be a portrait of the artist as a young man?


Alexander McQueen​

The fashion world was whipped into a frenzy last year when it seemed that designer Alexander McQueen could be replacing Smith on the banknote. McQueen, who died six years ago, was recently the subject of the hugely successful Savage Beauty exhibition last week. 

Barbara Hepworth

Yorkshire-born sculptor Barbara Hepworth is just one of many female names to be thrown into the nominations. She is a strong contender, with works installed at the Tate Modern, but figures in the art world today reckon it's unlikely that a woman will grace the £20 note. 

"Women visual artists of the past centuries just simply don't have the visibility of people like Jane Austen," University of Glasgow art history lecturer Dr Patricia De Montfort told The Guardian last year.


Grafitti artist Banksy is a favourite nominee with younger voters, but the Bank of England is unlikely to choose a contemporary artist who still divides opinion. Controversial characters are likely to be rejected, as the notes "are designed to be universally used and accepted, so the Bank will seek to avoid individuals who would be unduly divisive", it told reporters last year.

Beatrix Potter

Children's author and Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter was just one of the many names put forward by the public, and the bookies' favourite to replace Adam Smith on the £20 note last July, but as the Royal Mint has already immortalised her artwork, we think she's unlikely to make the grade.

David Bowie

Music icon David Bowie passed away this January, and since then the British public have rallied to have his work commemorated by putting his face on the £20 note. An online petition to put Bowie on the banknote received over 42,000 signatures from members of the public, but the Bank has ruled out any appearance of Ziggy Stardust.

But fear not, Bowie fans – the £50 will be updated in the next decade, so perhaps that's when some ch-ch-ch-changes could be made.