William G. Stewart, a generous and candid supporter

Our movement has always been fortunate in recruiting politicians, academics and journalists to the cause. But as a supporter in the world of broadcasting, William G. Stewart was a name out on his own. With a long and successful career as director / producer of popular sitcoms behind him, he found greatest fame as quizmaster in ‘The Price is Right’ and ‘Fifteen to One’ on Channel 4. Trusting in his channel’s independence from the establishment, in 2001 he delivered a personal talk on the ‘Elgin Marbles’, advocating their return to Athens and following this up with an opinion poll that revealed 92% support for his case. This result was widely attributed to the persuasiveness of his talk, but it shook the establishment all the same, to the point where Channel 4 was censured by the regulator for partiality.  The poll was just the first of a series of much more widespread soundings of opinion by MORI and other agencies, which without exception have shown a majority of British opinion in favour of return, if never by the same devastating margin.

William started a second undertaking that has also made a big contribution to our cause. It was his idea to take a head-count of a whole day’s visitors to the Marbles in the Duveen Gallery, and compare that at the end of the day with the Museum’s own count of all visitors.   A comparison of the two figures showed a proportion of less than a quarter visiting the Gallery, and later repetitions have confirmed this.   Once again, the outcome came as a surprise. Besides undermining the British Museum’s boasts of the numbers who came see the Marbles in London, it also revealed a wider truth:  that Classical Greek art no longer exercised a magnetic appeal to a British public, after the end of the Neo-Classical movement, at least when seen far away from its natural context  -  certainly nothing to compare with the genuine passion that it can arouse, to this day, among Greeks and many more nationalities at all levels of society.

In retirement, William still sometimes re-emerged in the press as a champion of our cause. This generous, candid man died on 21st September, 2017 and we shall always miss him.  

Professor Anthony Snodgrass

Honorary President for the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

2 museums

The Parthenon Gallery in the superlative Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, with views to the Acropolis and the Parthenon which still stands. The other Parthenon Gallery in the British Museum in London, United Kingdom is home to the fragmented sculptures removed from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin. It is over 200 years since this peerless work of art was forcibly divided and it is eigth years since the opening of the Acropolis Museum. The Greek nation has requested the return of these Marbles since it's independence in the nineteen century and continues to do so. The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles was started by British architect James Cubitt in 1983 and continues to campaign for the reunification. The Committee's Honorary President is Professor Anthony Snodgrass, who served as Chairman from 2002 to 2010 and the current Chair is Dame Janet Suzman and Vice-Chair is Professor Paul Cartledge.