The lost heroes of 2016

Whilst we celebrate welcoming our heroes to the TEDx stage this month, I can’t help but reflect on the heroes we have lost this year. It goes without saying that 2016 so far has been eventful, suitably exemplified by the sudden loss of some of the best spirits to grace this earth.  

Here’s a chance to remember and commemorate these trailblazers who made an awesome impact on the world…  

Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder
Best known for his starring role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wilder’s face soon became synonymous with the character from the Roald Dahl novel, which also earned him a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy.  He was also nominated for an Academy Award for the 1968 classic ‘The Producers’ and also for his work on the script of ‘Young Frankenstein’ in 1974. Gene made the lyrics ‘come with me, and you’ll be, in a world of pure imagination’ that familiar song that transports you to a magical land in the depths of a child’s imagination.  Gene represented the character who had everything you could ever dream of, and more.

Caroline Aherne

Caroline Aherne
Comedian and actor, Caroline became a national treasure in the 1990s when she played the mischievous, blue-rinse chat show host Mrs Merton, and then she also starred in The Fast Show – and more recently narrated Channel 4’s hit series Gogglebox.  Her popular lead role in the situation comedy Royal Family, which she co-wrote and directed proved her effortless ability to act and make people laugh, as she won the hearts of the nation.

Muhammed Ali

Muhammed Ali
Ali was known as an inspiring, captivating, controversial sportsman and activist. Representing black muslim’s, and supporting racial integration, he devoted a large part of his life to religious and charitable work. His boxing style epitomised by his catchphrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” meant Ali relied mostly on his superior hand speed, superb reflexes, and constant movements, dancing and circling his opponents.  As a polarising figure in and outside of the ring, he became an icon for the larger counterculture generation.


Prince’s iconic sound synthesised a wide variety of influences, including funk, rock, R&B and dance. His androgynous style blurred the lines of gender stereotypes, and his songs harnessed a new generation of rock & roll. Prince’s music still to this day resonates with a variety of audiences, ages and backgrounds, and his natural talent made him a musical legend and a cultural icon – that lives on and will still influence generations to come. 

Harper Lee

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 05:  Pulitzer Prize winner and "To Kill A Mockingbird" author Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House November 5, 2007 in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is given to those who have made remarkable contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, culture, or other private or public endeavors.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

American novelist, best known for To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee created a classic piece of modern literature studied widely in schools around the world. Immediately successful, it won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and has become a classic of modern American literature. Though Lee had only published this single book, in 2007 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature.

Alan Rickman

alan rickman

Much loved star on the screen, Alan Rickman best known for his starring role as Professor Snape in Harry Potter and Hans Gruber in Die Hard, was a compelling acting behind the camera and on the stage.  Enjoying a glowing career in various films and theatre productions, his most recent film role included an art-loving lord in the Coen brothers’ scripted farce Gambit (2012). After his death, a legion of Harry Potter fans mourned, and the world of stage and screen mourned too. 

David Bowie

 David Bowie2 

Becoming an icon for reinvention and visual liberation, Bowie’s stagecraft and music was the epitome of innovation in popular culture.  Reaching his peak of popularity and commercial success in 1983 with Let’s Dance, his album went platinum in both the UK and the US.  A music icon for over five decades, Bowie’s style was controversial and powerful. He subverted the notion of what it meant to be a ‘rock star,’ bringing a new dimension to popular music in the early 1970’s. Praised for inspiring the ‘glam rock’ era, he will forever be a timeless hero and a legend in his own right. 

As we look back at the momentous moments of these inspiring humans, I think ultimately their deaths give prominence to life, and it renders the fact that our heroes are ‘human’ just like you and I.  The notion that everyone has the ability to make an impact is exactly the message of this year’s TEDxBrighton, so in paying homage to David Bowie, it’s fitting to say – we can be heroes, just for one day.

Make sure to check out our amazing local and global heroes at TEDxBrighton 2016 at the Brighton Dome on October 28 –

*book your tickets today*