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  1. ITV Report

The features of the new £20 banknote featuring artist JMW Turner

  • Video report by ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills

The new £20 banknote featuring artist JMW Turner is now in circulation - and has been described by the Bank of England as its most secure note yet.

The new polymer £20 note, replacing the paper note featuring economist Adam Smith, has never-before-seen features and can be 'brought to life'.

It includes two see-through windows and a two colour foil to help thwart counterfeiters.

  • ITV News at Ten presenter Rageh Omaar explains the features of the new £20 note

The Bank expects half of all ATMs across the UK to be dispensing polymer £20 banknotes in just two weeks' time.

Social app Snapchat has turned the new £20 note into a piece of live artwork, using augmented reality to animate the paintings of JMW Turner which appear on the new note.

JMW Turner’s much-loved The Fighting Temeraire will come to life on the new £20 note, thanks to a new AR lens by Snapchat. Credit: PA

The son of a barber and a wig maker, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) became renowned as one of the great masters of painting.

He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1790 aged just 15.

Turner produced more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 sketches and drawings.

He became known as "the painter of light" and had a keen interest in depicting nature such as extreme weather conditions and the violent power of the sea.

The £20 banknote features a self-portrait of Turner and one of his most celebrated paintings. Credit: PA

What are the features on the new Turner bank note?

  • A large see-through window with a blue and gold foil appears on the front depicting Margate lighthouse and Turner Contemporary.
  • The foil is silver on the back.
  • The shape of the large window is based on the shape of the fountains in Trafalgar Square.
  • A metallic hologram which changes between the word "twenty" and "pounds" when the note is tilted.
  • Turner’s self-portrait, painted around 1799 and currently on display in Tate Britain.
  • One of Turner’s most celebrated paintings The Fighting Temeraire – a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire which played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
A large see-through window with a blue and gold foil on the front depicting Margate lighthouse. Credit: ITV News
  • A purple foil patch containing the letter "T" and based on the staircase at Tate Britain.
  • A quote "Light is therefore colour" from an 1818 lecture by Turner referring to the use of light, shade, colour and tone in his pictures.
  • Turner’s signature from his will, in which he bequeathed many of his paintings to the nation.
  • The paper £20 notes can still be used as normal and the Bank will give six months’ notice ahead of their legal tender status being withdrawn.
The Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney with the new £20 bank note. Credit: PA

Laid end to end, two billion polymer £20 notes would stretch around the world almost seven times and weigh the equivalent of more than 141 double decker buses, the Bank said.

The note will join the Sir Winston Churchill £5 and the Jane Austen £10 in the Bank of England’s first series of polymer notes.

A new polymer £50 featuring Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing will be issued next year.

Speaking at Tate Britain, which houses the Turner Bequest, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said: "Our banknotes celebrate the UK’s extraordinarily rich and diverse heritage and highlight the contributions of its greatest citizens. Turner’s art was transformative.

"I am delighted that the work of arguably the single most influential British artist of all time will now appear on another two billion works of art – the new £20 notes that people can start using today."

Turner’s self-portrait, as featured on the new £20 note, is on display at Tate Britain alongside the banknote.

Home to the Turner Bequest which includes 300 oil paintings and many thousands of sketches and watercolours, Tate Britain will present a major new exhibition dedicated to Turner later this year - Turner’s Modern World.

Turner’s self-portrait, as featured on the new £20 note, is on display at Tate Britain alongside the banknote. Credit: ITV News

The new £20 note is the first to feature the signature of Sarah John, the Bank’s chief cashier.

She said: "Moving the £20 note to polymer marks a major step forward in our fight against counterfeiting. I am very grateful to everyone across the cash industry who has made this transition possible and I hope the public enjoy using their new Turner £20s."

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has been working with the Bank to make money accessible for people with sight loss.

The new note has tactile markings on it with three separate clusters of dots along the short edge to differentiate it from the £10 note, which has two clusters of dots. It is larger than both the £10 and £5 notes.

David Clarke, RNIB director of services, said: "Handling cash can often be a challenge if you’re blind or partially sighted, because it can be difficult to tell the difference between the different notes and coins.

"By incorporating tactile features on money, we are closer to creating a more inclusive society; it’s the small changes that can make a big difference to independent living."

The Bank has said that polymer notes last longer than paper notes and remain in better condition.