Somerset celebrities: 12 famous figures from the county
PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:09 25 May 2018
One of the biggest British vloggers, three of the best UK comedians, a Formula One World Champion and an award-winning author - the towns and rural retreats of Somerset are a breeding ground for talent
It wasn’t until The Great British Bake Off came to our screens that we became a nation obsessed with soggy bottoms and the number of layers in a cake. The Bath-born star baker, Mary Berry, was awarded the Freedom of the City in June 2014 and has written over 60 cookery books. She’s currently putting budding chefs through their places on her new TV show on BBC1, Britain’s Best Home Cook.
Hailing from Bath, vlogging star Charlie McDonnell has over 2 millions subscribers to his Youtube channel, ‘charlieissocoollike’. The shares videos covering everything from his cat or his moustache to a duet with himself (which gained over ten million views) all infused with his brand of humour and personality.
Driver in the recently partnered Maclaren-Honda F1 team, Jenson Button MBE grew up in Frome. The 2009 Formula One Champion, Button set up the Jenson Button Trust the following year, allowing him to donate to multiple charitable causes. He became a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association in 2013 – the union with a focus upon safety within motorsport.
The award-winning actress grew up in Somerset, attending school in Midsomer Norton. You probably know her as the no nonsense, ‘Needle’-wielding Arya Stark, from fantasy drama Game of Thrones. She recently worked alongside actors Eddie Redmayne and Tom Hiddleston in Aardman’s latest family-friendly caper, Early Man.
Memorable as volatile hotel-owner Basil Fawlty and one of the surreal Monty Python crew – John Cleese has been bringing laughter to our screens since the 1960s. The BAFTA winning, Oscar-nominated comedian was born in Weston-super-Mare, where he also attended St Peter’s Preparatory School.
Dame Jacqueline Wilson
Bath-Born Dame Jacqueline is best known for the hugely popular Tracy Beaker books and television series, although she has written over 100 books to date! Wave Me Goodbye, a story following a young girl moving to the countryside with her classmates during the Second World War, was released in May 2017.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes
The celebrated explorer ran a country farm in Exmoor. Not one to turn down a challenge, Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (or ‘Ran’ for short) was the first man to reach both poles and to cross the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. Ranulph is distantly related to actor Ralph Fiennes, star of multi-award winning The Grand Budapest Hotel and as Harry Potter’s mortal enemy Lord Voldermort in the series of films.
If you don’t recognise Bill Bailey as the face of countless comedy panel TV shows, you may recognise him from his roles in the Channel 4’s comedy series’ Black Books and Spaced. In addition to his own production company, Glassbox Productions, the Bath-born comedian frequently tours the UK with stand-up shows – keep an eye out for his next tour here.
Arguably he’s most recognisable for his role as serial killer Joe Carroll in Fox’s popular drama series The Following, but former Taunton-resident James Purefoy is also known for roles in HBO series Rome, film Solomon Kane and recently the popular Netflix dystopian science fiction series Altered Carbon. The actor also starred in Ben Wheatley’s movie adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise – alongside actor Tom Hiddleston and fashion icon Sienna Miller.
Sir Peter Blake
Revered pop artist, Sir Peter Blake designed the sleeve for the 1967 Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He has been creating notable works since the 50s and lived in Somerset for a number of years.
The busy Bristol-born comedian is the writer and star of BBC show Russell Howard’s Good News, Sky One’s The Russell Howard Hour and Comedy Central’s Russell Howard & Mum: USA Road Trip as well as numerous comedy panel shows. The star is reported to have noted Johnny Vegas and Lee Evans as inspirations to his work.
Not just one celeb, but a whole band – comprising of Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons, and Adrian Utley. They found fame with their debut album Dummy in 1994, winning the prestigious Mercury Music Prize the following year. Formed in Bristol and named after the Somerset town that shares their name, the band are regulars on the festival scene. Find out where they’re performing here.