AC

Famous faces: Do places rush to honour their celebrity sons and daughters?

_72826136_vincentvangoghgettyPlaques and statues honouring famous people have long been used to attract tourists to the UK’s towns and cities. But is there a danger in rushing to honour the living?

In London, you do not stand a chance unless you have been dead for at least 20 years.

Elsewhere in England, the situation is a bit more of a free-for-all.

Hundreds of plaques commemorating the contribution individuals have made to society are dotted around the country, often making ordinary family homes unlikely tourist attractions.

A plaque was unveiled in Stoke-on-Trent on Wednesday as part of Robbie Williams’ 40th birthday celebrations, while in Manchester, one has been erected in honour of the animation studio where Danger Mouse was sketched.

Dr Dan Laughey, who teaches topics including celebrity and culture at Leeds Metropolitan University, is among those who believe the Williams plaque is a “bit premature”.

English Heritage, which is responsible for London’s scheme, stipulates that an individual has to have been dead for 20 years before they will be considered.

And Dr Laughey believes the main consideration in deciding whether to honour someone with a plaque or statue is whether their fame goes beyond “the here and now”.

“They really should be kept for great people – for important figures, whose contribution to society actually crosses generations and periods of time,” he says.

“It’s just about conceivable for a living legend to deserve a blue plaque or statue but they’re more likely to be very old before they deserve that.

“Entertainers can last beyond the here and now but not many do. Eric Morecambe has his statue in Morecambe and his impact probably has crossed generations.

“People still love watching Morecambe and Wise on television even though it’s now more of a nostalgia thing.”

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