New Military Coins from The Royal Mint
New Military Coins from The Royal Mint

Meet the Maker Henry Gray

Behind the Design

With several coin designs already under his belt for The Royal Mint, Henry Gray has created a striking design for the UK 50p coin commemorating the 100th
anniversary of our BBC. We spoke with the artist about his process and inspiration for creating the design, which depicts planet Earth slightly tilted on its axis,
surrounded by concentric circles that emanate from a broadcasting pole.

Meet the Maker - Henry Gray
What attracted you to this project?

“In a nutshell, it’s the BBC itself! I take it completely for granted, like you do with most things that are ever present but essential, which was something I’d not really considered until this project arrived. It’s always been a part of my life wherever I’ve been in the world – from sending drawings on an almost weekly basis to Tony Hart as a kid to BBC Radio 4 always being on at my parents’ house, which now makes listening to it feel like going home; I could continue listing but I would go on and on. The BBC is so woven through my life it was almost like designing a coin for a member of my family, and how could I not want to do that?”

Could you describe your creative process for this design?

“I always devote a large proportion of the project time to research; I find it’s the only way I can begin to distil subjects that are as broad as they are complex. It was the same with this one – although I felt I already knew the subject inside out, there’s no way anyone can. The amount of influential content produced over 100 years is monumental.”

Could you talk us through any iterations that led you to the final design?

“The sheer quantity of significant content and moments the BBC has produced or covered led to hundreds of possible designs. I needed to find an option that would resonate for as many people as possible which meant keeping the design really broad.”

Did you undertake any research for the theme?

“Only a lifetime of watching the telly and having the radio on!”

How was the process of creating a design for such an iconic broadcaster?

“Almost impossible. How on earth do you even begin to put everything the BBC has ever produced onto a canvas the size of a coin?”

Are there any TV programmes or radio shows broadcast by the BBC that you particularly enjoy, or notable events they have covered that stand out in your mind?

“When any notable event is happening, I turn to the BBC first – from every World Cup since Mexico ‘86 to every Olympic Games. I remember watching the raising of the Mary Rose at school when I was very small. My current guilty pleasure is Death in Paradise and I love discovering surprises on BBC iPlayer, like Roaming in the Wild. I also spent a significant amount of my childhood trying and failing to win a Blue Peter badge!”

Were there any challenges you faced in creating the design?

“Everyone will have had a unique relationship with the BBC’s output throughout their lives and relate to it in a different way. The challenge was to create something that was likely to be as inclusive as possible without being too specific about any particular piece of content.”

Made to Celebrate 100 Years of Our BBC

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