I heard it on NPR’s Morning Edition, who got it from the BBC, in this story: “Shakespeare a ‘cultural icon’ abroad”:
William Shakespeare is the UK’s greatest cultural icon, according to the results of an international survey released to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth [traditionally celebrated on April 23rd].
Five thousand young adults [note that: young adults are the arbiters of popular taste] in India, Brazil, Germany, China and the USA were asked to name a person they associated with contemporary UK arts and culture.
Shakespeare was the most popular response, with an overall score of 14%.
The result emerged from a wider piece of research for the British Council.
The Queen and [footballer] David Beckham came second and third respectively. Other popular responses included JK Rowling, Adele, The Beatles, Paul McCartney and Elton John.
Shakespeare, the Queen, and David Beckham: the Big Three. You wonder how the people surveyed understood the question.
Celebrity is an odd thing.