The Rough Guide to Cult TV's Cult TV Heroes

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2.
Dave Allen
Born of a prominent Irish journalist in Dublin, Ireland, Dave Allen started out working and touring through English theatres and night clubs. Only occasionally working on radio, he made his first TV appearance on the BBC's "New Faces." He managed to tour with The Beatles while they were still starting out and soon managed to get an eight-month TV engagement called Tonight with Dave Allen...
 
3.
Gillian Anderson
Actress, The X-Files
Gillian Anderson was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Rosemary Alyce (Lane), a computer analyst, and Homer Edward Anderson III, who owned a film post-production company. She has English, German, and Irish ancestry. Gillian started her career as a member of an amateur actor group while at high school. In 1987...
 
4.
Tom Baker
Actor, Doctor Who
The British character actor Tom Baker, best known as the fourth incarnation of The Doctor, was born in 1934 in Liverpool, England, to Mary Jane (Fleming) and John Stewart Baker. His father was of English and Scottish descent, while his mother's family was originally from Ireland. Tom, along with his younger sister...
 
5.
Frank Bough
Educated at Oswestry Boys' School and Merton College, Oxford. Undertook national service in the Royal Tank Regiment. Encouraged to become a broadcaster by Gerald Sinstadt, Bough joined the BBC's regional news in Newcastle and within a couple of years had moved down to London, first making his name on national television as a BBC sports commentator...
 
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Peter Cook
Writer, Bedazzled
One of four stars of the London and New York revues Beyond the Fringe and Beyond the Fringe (with Jonathan Miller, Alan Bennett, and Dudley Moore). Later created scatological comedy routine "Derek & Clive" with Moore.
 
12.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau
Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born on June 11, 1910, in Saint-André-de-Cubzac (Gironde) in France. He entered the naval academy in 1930, was graduated and became a gunnery officer. Then, while he was training to be a pilot, a serious car accident ended his aviation career. In order to rehabilitate his body...
 
13.
Pete Duel
Born on 24 February 1940 in Rochester, New York, Pete Duel moved to West Hollywood in 1963 following a tour with the National Road Company's "Take Her, She's Mine". After landing small guest spots on various TV series, Pete was cast in a recurring role alongside Sally Field on Gidget in 1965...
 
16.
Larry Hagman
Actor, Dallas
The son of a legendary actress (Mary Martin) and a district attorney, Larry Martin Hagman was born on September 21, 1931 in Fort Worth, Texas. After his parents' divorce, he moved to Los Angeles, California to live with his grandmother. When he was 12, his grandmother died and he moved back to his mother's place...
 
17.
Tony Hancock
Tony Hancock was born in Birmingham, England, the son of John and Lillian Hancock. He was educated at Durlston Court, Swanage, and Bradfield College, Reading. He served in the R.A.F. (ground crew) during the war. In 1942 he was in the R.A.F. Gang Show. He was de-mobbed in 1946. He appeared at the Windmill Theatre...
 
18.
Tony Hart
Art Department, Playbox
 
20.
Frankie Howerd
Francis Alick Howerd, who grew up to become popular British comedian Frankie Howerd, was born in 1917 and first set foot on stage at age 4. A Sunday school teacher as a teen, his father, who died in 1934, had been an Army man for most of his life. Not long after Frankie was invited to audition for RADA...
 
21.
David Hyde Pierce
Actor, Frasier
David Hyde Pierce was born on 3 April 1959 in Saratoga Springs, New York, USA. He is the youngest child of George and Laura Pierce (both deceased) and has two older sisters (Barbara and Nancy) and an older brother (Thomas). As a child, he was very interested in music (particularly piano) and regularly played the organ at his local church (Bethesda Episcopal Church)...
 
22.
John Le Mesurier
Actor, Dad's Army
The son of a solicitor, British character actor John Le Mesurier attended public school in Dorset, England, before embarking on a career in law. However, acting was his true calling, and at age 20, with his parents' approval, he began his acting career by studying drama at the Fay Compton School of Acting...
 
23.
David Letterman
Television would never be the same after David Letterman made his second attempt at a television show in 1982. But his career before becoming host of the show was quite an interesting and long one. Letterman was born in Broad Ripple, a neighborhood in Indianapolis. His childhood was relatively unremarkable...
 
24.
Jack Lord
Jack Lord was the son of William Lawrence Ryan, steamship company executive. He learned his equestrian skills at his mother's fruit farm in the Hudson River Valley. At age 15 he started spending summers at sea in the Merchant Marine, and from the deck of ships, painted and sketched the landscapes he encountered; Africa...
 
26.
Quinn Martin
Producer, The F.B.I.
During the early 1970s QM Productions through its owner Quinn Martin dominated the action adventure television series genre. At one time QM produced more hours of network television programs per week than any other independent production company. Perhaps one of Martin's most lasting contributions to...
 
27.
Rik Mayall
Rik Mayall, one of the first and foremost alternative comedians in the UK, was born in a village called Matching Tye, just outside Harlow in Essex. His parents, John and Gillian were both drama teachers. His acting debut was at the age of seven when he appeared in one of his father's stage plays. He met his comedy partner and best friend Adrian "Ade" Edmondson at Manchester University in 1975...
 
28.
Spike Milligan
Spike was born an 'Army Brat', the son of an Irish Captain in the British Raj in India. Educated in a series of Roman Catholic schools in India and at Lewisham Polytechnic in England, he spent his formative years playing the fool and playing the trumpet in local jazz bands. He joined the British Army himself (under protest if you believe his auto-biogs) as a conscript at the outbreak of WWII...
 
30.
Christopher Morris
Actor, Four Lions
Morris, the oldest son of two GPs, was educated at Stonyhurst College and Bristol University, where he read Zoology. His upbringing, and in particular, his education, has been the source of much media speculation, especially after the post-Brass Eye Special tabloid backlash. The tabloids focused on Stonyhurst...
 
31.
Jeremy Paxman
Self, Newsnight
Jeremy Paxman is arguably Britain's most respected political journalist, renowned for his tough, rigorous interviewing of public figures. He was born in Leeds and educated at a prestigious private school, Malvern College. He graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in English. He joined the BBC as a trainee in 1972 and began working on BBC radio...
 
33.
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...
 
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Leonard Rossiter
Leonard Rossiter was born on October 21st, 1926 in Liverpool. Unable to afford to go to university, he worked in an insurance office until he was 27, when he joined Preston repertory company and made his professional stage debut in "The Gay Dog". After Preston, he starred in productions at Wolverhampton...
 
40.
Aaron Spelling
Producer, Sunset Beach
Aaron Spelling graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Before that, he attended Forest Avenue High. He started as a writer and sold his first script to Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre. He wrote for various television shows, including Playhouse 90. After he wrote his first pilot he became a producer for Four Star Productions...
 
43.
Edward Woodward
British actor Edward Woodward made a highly successful transition into Hollywood stardom in the mid 1980s thanks to a popular TV dramatic series. Possessing a magnetic, yet coldly handsome demeanor in the same mold as Christopher Plummer, he was born on June 1, 1930, in London and received his early education at various schools before becoming a student at Kingston College...