The BBC named Alan Turing the most ‘iconic’ figure of the 20th Century on Tuesday (5 February).
Turing was instrumental in cracking Nazi codes during World War II. But he was later chemically castrated for being gay and is believed to have committed suicide.
He’s commonly known as the founding father of computer science.
But on the night, broadcaster Chris Packham gave an inspiring and heartwarming speech commemorating his life.
‘For me, science is the art of understanding truth and beauty,’ Packham said. ‘But for Turing, mathematics alone encapsulated the search for that most honorable human grail: pure truth.’
‘Truthfully, he knew more than most. He defined the computer, he designed a computer. Faced with global catastrophe, he built a computer,’ he said.
Packham believes Turing saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but all he got in return from society was a ‘poisoned apple’.
‘A genius [and] a saviour,’ Packham then said. ‘But he was also autistic and gay so we betrayed him and drove him to suicide.
‘Shame,’ he added.
Watch the heartbreaking speech:
— BBC Two (@BBCTwo) February 6, 2019
To win the accolade, Turing beat figures such as Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Ernest Shackleton, Pablo Picasso, David Bowie and Muhammad Ali.
In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing for his 1952 conviction for having sex with another man.
Some 49,000 gay men, now dead, were convicted for homosexuality. They include poet, wit and playwright Oscar Wilde.