Icons of England
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Me and My Icons

24 of 34 nominations




“What epitomises an English summer more than that delightful, soft red fruit served with a dollop of cream as we follow the thwack and grunt of Wimbledon or the efforts of our local cricket team on the village green?
“My first introduction to England was via the strawberry. A student living in Northern Ireland, I was recruited in the 1960s to can strawberries in a factory in Three Holes, near Wisbech. Irish universities and colleges broke up earlier than their English counterparts and, like so many of my fellow countrymen, I sought gainful employment in the country with whom we Irish have had a longstanding and turbulent relationship.
“Our factory shift began at one in the afternoon and we'd can those bright berries sometimes until three the following morning. Despite the monotony of strawberry sorting and canning or the labelling of endless tins and despite knowing that the droppings and leavings go into jam, I have never tired of this delicious fruit. It truly represents England for me.”

Read more and vote on strawberries.


Hilary Oliver

Film critic and broadcaster

A familiar voice to Radio 2 listeners, award-winning Belfast-born writer and broadcaster Hilary Oliver began her media career in 1984 at a local radio station in Berkshire. In 1990, combining her passion for cinema and broadcasting, Hilary set up her own radio production company, Cameo Productions. She’s been a regular contributor to Radio 2's 'Michael Parkinson's Sunday Supplement' for the last decade. The mother of three sons who have all followed her into the media, Hilary lives in London.