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The top 50: how we chose the most influential over-50s
April 1, 2011 | By: High50

We decided to list the 50 figures aged over 50 who matter most to us. Then the fights started.  Read how we arrived at the list

50 over 50 heroWhat’s in a list? There are plenty of them about. The hot list. The cool list. The best list. The rich list. Um, probably not the poor list, or the stupid list. Although, aren’t all lists stupid? Who gets to say what’s what, anyway? Who gets to be the boss of us and decide who’s Number One?

Ha! We could almost talk ourselves out of a job here, but at high50 Towers we’ve spent the past month arguing the toss with our panel of experts to come up with our 50 Over 50; the list of the people we think matter most. There have been heated arguments, tears (actually, we made that up), passionate pleas for someone or other to be re-instated after we’ve bumped them off the list, howls of derision at the inclusion of others.

It has never quite come to fisticuffs – we are far too grown up and self-aware for that – but unless there were just one person playing dictator for a day, everyone has an opinion and not everyone agrees. But finally, FINALLY, we have agreed on who deserves a place.

So, some ground rules. For our very first 50 over 50 we decided to keep everyone in the 50-something decade. No 60s or 70s, which meant kissing goodbye to the likes of Dame Vivienne Westwood or Ol’ Rubber Lips. Next, they had to be well-known. Not necessarily megastar famous, though many are, but it wouldn’t do to have that achingly cool architect whose name and reputation is only known in Edinburgh. Every single person who has made it to the final list has made their mark on the public consciousness.

Being famous isn’t enough. There are plenty of talented and famous 50-somethings who are still doing what they do best, but haven’t really upped their game. Being 50 isn’t about resting on your laurels, in our eyes. It’s about moving forward, trying something new, adding to your talents and knowledge base.

Which might explain, before some of you start telling us off, why a certain Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie is absent from our pages. A decade ago, Madge would have definitely made the grade as she morphed from one incarnation to the next. But, really, what has she done recently? More. Of. The. Same. Do we honestly believe that her latest movie project about Wallis Simpson is going to win our admiration? We could be proved wrong, but for the moment we stand by our decision.

And why isn’t the leader of the Free World, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Barack Obama heading our list? Surely he, of all people, encompasses what a 50something should be? Smart, clever, compassionate, forward-thinking and, above all, funny.

Well, sorry, but there’s a difference between a player and someone who bestrides the world stage like a Colossus. If there was an 0th place, we’d give it to Barack, but he’s out.

So, without further ado, we direct you to the inaugural list of high50’s most influential 50 over 50. It’s time to celebrate. Each day this week we will list, in reverse order of age, the people we feel have made their mark.

Next week, we’ll open the vote to you, to decide who, out of those fabulous 50-somethings, make the Toppest Ten of all. Then get ready to argue…

Update: post-reveal, now read the 50:

Day one

Day two

Day three

Day four

Day five

UPDATE The results are in! Your top three