Boris Becker faces new test match for UK citizenship

Boris Becker faces new test match for UK citizenship


(3 July 2015)

Six-time major singles tennis champion Boris Becker has revealed he intends to apply for British citizenship. At 17, he became the youngest Wimbledon men’s champion in 1985 and he’s served as a BBC commentator since 2003.

Becker likely meets most criteria for becoming a British citizen. He’s held a London flat and worked in the UK for many years. He’d have to change his main residence from Switzerland to Britain first, but that’s not the only hurdle this former champion must jump.

Tony Blair’s Labour government introduced the first UK citizenship test in 2005. The Tory-led coalition made the test a standard requirement for naturalisation in 2013. Becker must pass the ‘Life in the UK’ citizenship test in order to hold a British passport. The test costs £50 and applicants must answer 18 of 24 questions correctly to pass.

Becker may find this a difficult test match to win. Professor Thom Brooks, at Durham University, is the leading expert on the British citizenship test and says it’s unfit for purpose and “like a bad pub quiz.” Brooks became a UK citizen in 2011 after moving from the USA.

“The test urgently requires revision,” says Professor Brooks. “Practical everyday necessities like how to contact an ambulance, report a crime or register with a GP are missing. But new citizens are required to know the year Emperor Claudius invaded Britain and which street Sake Dean Mahomet launched the UK’s first curry house—many of the test’s facts I doubt most British citizens know or even should know to be British.”

Over 1 million tests have been sat and three editions produced over the last 10 years. Professor Brooks says it’s time for a fundamental rethink on the test’s purpose: “There’s never been a review of whether the test is fit for purpose more than a decade since it was launched. The government should announce a major review preferably led by a naturalised UK citizen who understands the system inside and out to ensure the test meets public expectations and is beneficial. This is important for all present and future citizens alike, including Becker.”

New citizens receive a small gift at regularly convened citizenship ceremonies across the country, such as a small medal or cufflinks. It’s unclear whether Becker would display them alongside his many tennis trophies won over his remarkable career.


How would you fare?

Ten things you need to know for the test (selected from the Life in the United Kingdom Official Practice Questions and Answers book)


Which of the following statements is correct?

ACharles, king of Scotland, was restored as King Charles II of England in 1660.

□ B – Bonnie Prince Charlie became King Charles II of England in 1660.



Which of the following statements is correct?

□ A – Richard Arkwright developed new farming methods in the UK.

BRichard Arkwright developed efficient and profitable factories.



Which language was spoken by people during the Iron Age?

□ A – Latin

B – Celtic

□ C – English

□ D – Anglo-Saxon



Which TWO religions celebrate Diwali?

□ A – Buddhists


□ C – Christians

D – Sikhs



For approximately how many years did the Romans stay in this country?

□ A – 50 years

□ B – 100 years

C400 years

□ D – 600 years



Which TWO are 20th-century British discoveries or inventions?

□ A – Cloning a mammal

□ B – Cash machines (ATMs)

□ C – Mobile phones

□ D – Walkmans



How many people serve on a jury in Scotland?

□ A – 8

□ B – 11


□ D – 20



When walking your dog in a public place, what must you ensure?

□ A – That your dog wears a special dog coat

□ B – That your dog never strays more than 3 metres away from you

□ C – That you dog does not come into contact with other dogs

D – That your dog wears a collar showing the name and address of the owner



What is the highest-value note issued as British currency?

□ A – £20

□ B – £70

C – £50

□ D – £100



Is the statement below □ TRUE or □ FALSE?

Catherine Howard was the sixth wife of Henry VIII (she was the 5th)