Best of British - My Top 40

The people whose work I most enjoy watching and all of whom I view as having incredible amounts of talent.
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1.
Josephine Tewson
An English stage and television actress. She is best known for her roles in British television sitcoms, such as Elizabeth in Keeping Up Appearances (1990-95) and Miss Davenport in Last of the Summer Wine (2003-10). Tewson was born in Hampstead, London, England in 1931. Her father, William, was a professional musician and played the double bass in the BBC Symphony Orchestra; her mother...
“ Favourite Roles - Elizabeth Warden in Keeping Up Appearances, Jane Travers in Clarence, Lucinda Davenport in Last of the Summer Wine, Dorothy Sutcliffe in Odd Man Out, Miss Bates in Hark at Barker, various roles in The Two Ronnie's, Mrs Hawkins in Shelley & Audrey and Marjorie in Doctors. ” - donnahobson
 
2.
Ronnie Barker
Ronnie Barker's remarkable versatility as a performer can be traced back to his time in repertory theatre, where he was able to play a wide range of roles and develop his talent for accents, voices and verbal dexterity. It was during this time that he met Glenn Melvyn, who taught him how to stammer (something he would later use to great effect in the sitcom Open All Hours)...
“ Favourite Roles - Clarence Sale in Clarence, Arkwright in Open All Hours, Fletcher in Porridge, Lord Rustless in Hark at Barker & various roles in The Two Ronnies. ” - donnahobson
 
3.
Lynda Baron
Actress, Yentl
“ Favourite Roles - Nurse Gladys Emmanuel in Open All Hours, Violet Carson in The Road to Coronation Street, Lily Bless Her in Last of the Summer Wine, Linda Clarke in Eastenders, Norma Patterson in Fat Friends & Geppeto's wife in The Two Ronnie's. ” - donnahobson
 
4.
Stephanie Cole
Born in Warwickshire, England, UK. At age of 15, she auditioned for and was accepted to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Stephanie began her career at age 17 playing a 90-year-old woman. She went on to play beloved characters on the shows Waiting for God and Doc Martin.
“ Favourite Roles - Diana Trent in Waiting For God, Mrs Featherstone in Open All Hours & Sylvia Goodwin in Coronation Street. ” - donnahobson
 
5.
“ Favourite Role - Mary Taylor in Coronation Street. ” - donnahobson
 
6.
Helen Mirren
Actress, The Queen
Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. Mirren attended St...
“ Favourite roles - Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, Alma in Hitchcock, Mrs Tingle in Teaching Mrs Tingle, Chris in Calender Girls, Rachel Singer in The Debt, Victoria in RED, Georgina in Greenfingers, Ida in Brighton Rock, Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect, Sofya in The Last Station & Cameron Lynne in State of Play. ” - donnahobson
 
7.
Patricia Routledge
The daughter of a gentleman's outfitter, Patricia, who studied at Liverpool University, the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and London's Guildhall School of Music, made her professional debut at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1952. She's best known, of course, as "Hyacinth Bucket" in Keeping Up Appearances, but...
“ Favourite Roles - Hyacinth in Keeping Up Appearances, Hetty Wainthropp in Missing Persons and Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, Sheila Bowler in Anybody's Nightmare, Madame Vivian Bultitude in The Two Ronnie's & Madame Fontana in Steptoe & Son. ” - donnahobson
 
8.
David Jason
Sir David Jason was born in Edmonton, London, in 1940. He has become one of Britain's most famous and respected actors. He is a versatile actor who is most famously known for his role in Only Fools and Horses.... as Del Boy. He made his debut as DelBoy back in 1981 and was still playing the same role up to the Christmas special in 2002...
“ Favourite Roles - Granville in Open All Hours, Blanco in Porridge, Jack Frost in A Touch of Frost, Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses, Dithers in Hark at Barker, The BFG (voice) & The Odd Job Man. ” - donnahobson
 
9.
Patricia Phoenix
Bold, brassy and larger than life, Pat Phoenix was television's favourite scarlet woman. For nearly 25 years, she dominated the soap opera Coronation Street in the role of Elsie Tanner and sent shivers down the spines of Britain's menfolk twice a week. With her low cut cleavage, she was known as "the...
“ Favourite Role - Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street. ” - donnahobson
 
10.
Mary Millar
Mary Millar had a very successful stage career in the West End. She began singing arias at the age of fourteen. Her London stage debut was in the 1962 production "Lock Up Your Daughters". She was in the original cast of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, "The Phantom of the Opera", and can be heard on the cast recording performing the role of "Madame Giry"...
“ Favourite Role - Rose in Keeping Up Appearances. ” - donnahobson
 
11.
Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter is an actress of great versatility, one of the UK's finest and most successful. Bonham Carter was born May 26, 1966 in Golders Green, London, England, the youngest of three children of Elena (née Propper de Callejón), a psychotherapist, and Raymond Bonham Carter, a merchant banker...
“ Favourite roles - Dinah in The Heart of Me, Marla Singer in Fight Club, Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Enid Blyton in Enid, Esther in Sixty Six, The Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland & Queen Elizabeth in The King's Speech. ” - donnahobson
 
12.
Amanda Burton
Actress, Bronson
Amanda Burton was born and raised in Derry, Northern Ireland. Leaving aged 18 to train as an actress at Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre. Amanda has since become one of Britain's most respected and admired actresses often taking on leading strong roles in dramas. She is the mother of two daughters Phoebe (b. 1989) and Brid (b. 1990) and lives in London.
“ Favourite Roles - Clare Blake in The Commander, Rachel Monroe in Forgotten, Karen Fisher in Waterloo Road, Aunt Polly in Pollyanna, Charlie's Mum in Bronson & Helen West. ” - donnahobson
 
13.
Anne Reid
Actress, A Close Shave
After several small roles in the classic 1950s British TV shows 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' and 'Hancock's Half Hour' she found fame as Ken Barlow's wife Valerie in the #1 UK TV show 'Coronation Street' she remained with the show for a decade before leaving to give birth and bring up her son. Her character was accidentally electrocuted while trying to plug in a hairdryer...
“ Favourite Roles - Celia in Last Tango in Halifax, Vera in Ladies of Letters & May in The Mother. ” - donnahobson
 
14.
“ Favourite Roles - Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers & Sarah France in After Henry. ” - donnahobson
 
15.
“ Favourite Role - Glenda in Last of the Summer Wine. ” - donnahobson
 
16.
“ Favourite Role - Ivy in Last of the Summer Wine. ” - donnahobson
 
17.
“ Favourite Roles - Nora Batty in Last of the Summer Wine & Mrs Blewett in Open All Hours. ” - donnahobson
 
18.
Maggie Ollerenshaw
Actress, War Horse
Maggie Ollerenshaw, proud Mancunian and supporter of Manchester City football club since childhood, made her television debut in 1974. She is especially famous for playing comedic Northerners, particularly in the sitcoms 'Last of the Summer Wine' and its prequel 'First of the Summer Wine' and 'Open All Hours' and its belated follow-up 'Still Open All Hours' ...
“ Favourite Roles - Mavis in Open All Hours & Mrs Clegg in First of the Summer Wine. ” - donnahobson
 
19.
“ Favourite Roles - Mr Barrowclough in Porridge & Foggy in Last of the Summer Wine. ” - donnahobson
 
20.
“ Favourite Roles - Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine, Mr Clegg in First of the Summer Wine & Wallace (voice) in Wallace & Gromit. ” - donnahobson
 
21.
Eleanor Bron
There is one strange, mesmerizing film scene that easily sums up the disturbing fascination Eleanor Bron brought to her characters on stage, TV and in the cinema. This is the classic fig-eating scene which she shares with Alan Bates in the Oscar-winning drama Women in Love. It is not to be missed...
“ Favourite Roles - Miss Minchin in A Little Princess, Augusta Colt in Wimbledon & Mrs. Burkett in The Heart of Me. ” - donnahobson
 
22.
“ Favourite roles - Stella Crawford in Eastenders, Sarah McDonald in May Contain Nuts, Lydia in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Lorna in Lightfields & Penny in Love Life. ” - donnahobson
 
23.
Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson was born in London on April 15, 1959, into a family of actors - her father was Eric Thompson, who has passed away, and her mother, Phyllida Law, has co-starred with Thompson in several films (her sister, Sophie Thompson, is an actor as well). Her father was English-born and her mother is Scottish-born...
“ Favourite Roles - Nanny McPhee, Mrs. Lincoln / Sarafine in Beautiful Creatures, Professor Sybil Trelawney in Harry Potter, Karen in Love Actually & Kate in The Tall Guy. ” - donnahobson
 
24.
“ Favourite Roles - Rowan Holdaway in Love and Marriage, Celia in Calender Girls, Madge in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Matron in St Trinian's, Mrs Quickly in Nanny McPhee, Mrs Thornton in The Commander, Homily Clock in The Borrowers, Lydice in Wimbledon & Una in Bridget Jone's Diary. ” - donnahobson
 
25.
Maggie Smith
One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor Robert Stephens and to playwright Beverley Cross...
“ Favourite Roles - Mrs Medlock in The Secret Garden, Jean Horton in Quartet, Muriel in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Mrs Docherty in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang & Minerva McGonagall in Harry Potter. ” - donnahobson
 
26.
Julie Walters
Actress, Brave
For decades, Brit actress and comedienne Julie Walters has served as a sturdy representation of the working class with her passionate, earthy portrayals on England's stage, screen and TV. A bona fide talent, her infectious spirit and self-deprecating sense of humor eventually captured the hearts of international audiences...
“ Favourite Roles - Rosie in Mamma Mia, Annie in Calender Girls & Molly Weasley in Harry Potter. ” - donnahobson
 
27.
Julie Andrews
Julia Elizabeth Wells was born on October 1, 1935, in England. Her mother, Barbara Ward (Morris), and stepfather, both vaudeville performers, discovered her freakish but undeniably lovely four-octave singing voice and immediately got her a singing career. She performed in music halls throughout her childhood and teens...
“ Favourite Roles - Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins, Queen Clarisse in The Princess Diaries (2), Maria in The Sound of Music & the Queen (voice) in Shrek. ” - donnahobson
 
28.
“ Favourite Roles - Abby Grant in Survivors, Jean in The Bletchley Circle, Mary in William and Mary, Dr Laura Parr in Midsomer Murders & Mandy in Lapland and Being Eileen. ” - donnahobson
 
29.
Ashley Jensen
Ashley Jensen (born on 11 August 1969) is a Scottish actress and narrator. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role on the television series Extras, on which she appeared from 2005-2007. She was also a cast member on the ABC show Ugly Betty and the brief-lived CBS sitcom Accidentally on Purpose.
“ Favourite Roles - Christina McKinney in Ugly Betty, Maggie Jacobs in Extras, Sarah in Love and Marriage, Jennifer in Nativity & Kate in The Escape Artist. ” - donnahobson
 
30.
Judi Dench
Actress, Skyfall
Judi Dench was born in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre...
“ Favourite Roles - Barbara Covett in Notes on a Scandal & Evelyn Greenslade in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. ” - donnahobson
 
31.
Doreen Mantle
Actress, Scoop
“ Favourite Roles - Mrs Warboys in One Foot in the Grave & Joy Fishwick in Coronation Street. ” - donnahobson
 
32.
“ Favourite Roles - Julie in Open All Hours and Margaret Cropper in Coronation Street. ” - donnahobson
 
33.
“ Favourite Roles - Violet in Keeping Up Appearances & various in The Benny Hill Show. ” - donnahobson
 
34.
“ Favourite Role - Marina in Last of the Summer Wine. ” - donnahobson
 
35.
“ Favourite Roles - Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street & Auntie Wainwright in Last of the Summer Wine. ” - donnahobson
 
36.
David Neilson
David Neilson was born in Loughborough, Leicestershire on 13th March l949 and attended Garendon Secondary Modern School, leaving when he was l5 years old. He was 20 when he decided to try for drama school, auditioned successfully and did a 3-year drama course at the Central School of Speech and Drama...
“ Favourite Role - Roy Cropper in Coronation Street. ” - donnahobson
 
37.
Annette Crosbie
Besides brilliantly playing "Margaret Meldrew" on the acclaimed BBC Series One Foot in the Grave, Annette is a tireless supporter of animal rights. Nothing enrages her more than cruelty to animals. She is a member of the Retired Greyhound Trust Charity and loves her three Greyhound dogs Tatti, Honey and Bonny...
“ Favourite Roles - Margaret Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave, Jessie in Calender Girls & Sadie in Hope Springs. ” - donnahobson
 
38.
“ Favourite Roles - Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave & the dentist in Mr Bean. ” - donnahobson
 
39.
Janine Duvitski
Janine Drzewicki was born in Nottingham to an English mother and a Polish father and moved to London to train as an actress at the E 15 theatre school. Shortly after leaving she was given a couple of small roles in television dramas but had no agent, and placed an advert in the 'Spotlight' agency catalogue with a photograph...
“ Favourite Roles - Jane Edwards in Waiting For God, Pippa in One Foot in the Grave & Jacqueline Stewart in Benidorm. ” - donnahobson
 
40.
Ronnie Corbett
Ronnie Corbett began his successful show business career in the early 1950s. Amongst many other things he performed on stage with Danny La Rue in a cacophony of well received variety and cabaret shows. It was whilst performing in these shows that Corbett attracted the attention of several top TV producers and executives who were impressed with his abilities as a stand up comedian...
“ Favourite Roles - Various in The Two Ronnie's. ” - donnahobson