Best of British - My Top 40

by donnahobson | created - 06 Jan 2012 | updated - 26 Mar 2014 | Public

The people whose work I most enjoy watching and all of whom I view as having incredible amounts of talent.

1. Josephine Tewson

Actress | Keeping Up Appearances

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) and Miss Davenport in Last of the Summer Wine.

Tewson was born in Hampstead, London, England in 1931. Her father, William, was a professional ...

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.

2. Ronnie Barker

Actor | Porridge

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 ...

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.

3. Lynda Baron

Actress | Scoop

Lilian Baron known professionally as Lynda Baron, is an English actress, best known for playing Nurse Gladys Emmanuel in the BBC comedy series Open All Hours (1976-1985) and its sequel, Still Open All Hours (2013-2016).

From 1993 to 1997, she played Auntie Mabel in BBC children's programme Come ...

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.

4. Stephanie Cole

Actress | Doc Martin

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 (1990) and Doc Martin (2004).

Favourite Roles - Diana Trent in Waiting For God, Mrs Featherstone in Open All Hours & Sylvia Goodwin in Coronation Street.

5. Patti Clare

Actress | Coronation Street

Patti Clare is an actress, known for Coronation Street (1960), Casualty 1909 (2009) and Torchwood (2006).

Favourite Role - Mary Taylor in Coronation Street.

6. Helen Mirren

Actress | RED

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. ...

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.

7. Patricia Routledge

Actress | Keeping Up Appearances

Daughter of Catherine and Isaac Routledge. Her father was a haberdasher, and, during WWII, the family lived weeks at a time in the basement of her father's shop. She attended Birkenhead High School, where she sang in the choir and ran the Sunday School. She studied English at Liverpool University, ...

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.

8. David Jason

Actor | Only Fools and Horses....

David Jason was born in Edmonton, London, in 1940. He has become one of Britain's most famous, versatile and respected actors, who is most famous for his role in Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) as Del Boy. He made his debut in the series in 1981 and was still playing the same role up to the ...

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.

9. Patricia Phoenix

Actress | The L-Shaped Room

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 (1960) 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 ...

Favourite Role - Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street.

10. Mary Millar

Actress | Keeping Up Appearances

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 ...

Favourite Role - Rose in Keeping Up Appearances.

11. Helena Bonham Carter

Actress | Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

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 ...

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.

12. Amanda Burton

Actress | Silent Witness

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 ...

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.

13. Anne Reid

Actress | Hot Fuzz

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. ...

Favourite Roles - Celia in Last Tango in Halifax, Vera in Ladies of Letters & May in The Mother.

14. Prunella Scales

Actress | Fawlty Towers

Prunella Scales was born on June 22, 1932 in Sutton Abinger, Surrey, England as Prunella Margaret Rumney Illingworth. She is an actress, known for Fawlty Towers (1975), Howards End (1992) and An Awfully Big Adventure (1995). She has been married to Timothy West since October 1963. They have two ...

Favourite Roles - Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers & Sarah France in After Henry.

15. Sarah Thomas

Actress | Last of the Summer Wine

Sarah Thomas was born on June 5, 1952 in London, England. She is an actress, known for Last of the Summer Wine (1973), Madagascar Skin (1995) and Play for Today (1970).

Favourite Role - Glenda in Last of the Summer Wine.

16. Jane Freeman

Actress | Last of the Summer Wine

Although Jane Freeman will forever be associated with the redoubtable cafe owner Ivy in Roy Clarke's long-running The Last of the Summer Wine - appearing in 274 episodes over a 37-year run and a 1983 stage version - she was also an actor of considerable resources who remained steadfastly committed ...

Favourite Role - Ivy in Last of the Summer Wine.

17. Kathy Staff

Actress | Mary Reilly

Kathy Staff was born on July 12, 1928 in Dukinfield, Cheshire, England as Minnie Higginbottom. She was an actress, known for Mary Reilly (1996), Last of the Summer Wine (1973) and Open All Hours (1973). She was married to John Staff. She died on December 13, 2008 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater ...

Favourite Roles - Nora Batty in Last of the Summer Wine & Mrs Blewett in Open All Hours.

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...

Favourite Roles - Mavis in Open All Hours & Mrs Clegg in First of the Summer Wine.

19. Brian Wilde

Actor | Porridge

Brian Wilde was born on June 13, 1927 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England as Brian George Wilde. He was an actor, known for Doing Time (1979), Last of the Summer Wine (1973) and Curse of the Demon (1957). He was married to Eva Stuart. He died on March 20, 2008 in Ware, Hertfordshire, England.

Favourite Roles - Mr Barrowclough in Porridge & Foggy in Last of the Summer Wine.

20. Peter Sallis

Actor | The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Peter Sallis was born on February 1, 1921 in Twickenham, Middlesex, England as Peter John Sallis. He was an actor, known for The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), Last of the Summer Wine (1973) and The Wrong Trousers (1993). He was married to Elaine Usher. He died on June 2, 2017 in Denville Hall, ...

Favourite Roles - Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine, Mr Clegg in First of the Summer Wine & Wallace (voice) in Wallace & Gromit.

21. Eleanor Bron

Actress | A Little Princess

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 (1969). It is not to be ...

Favourite Roles - Miss Minchin in A Little Princess, Augusta Colt in Wimbledon & Mrs. Burkett in The Heart of Me.

22. Sophie Thompson

Actress | Gosford Park

Sophie Thompson was born on January 20, 1962 in London, England. She is an actress, known for Gosford Park (2001), Emma (1996) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). She has been married to Richard Lumsden since October 1995. They have two children.

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.

23. Emma Thompson

Actress | Sense and Sensibility

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...

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.

24. Celia Imrie

Actress | The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Celia Diana Savile Imrie is an English actress. She is known for her appearances with Victoria Wood; including Claire in Pat and Margaret (1994), Philippa Moorcroft in Dinnerladies (1998-2000) and playing various characters in the sketch show Victoria Wood As Seen On TV (1985-87), including Miss ...

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.

25. Maggie Smith

Actress | Gosford Park

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 ...

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.

26. Julie Walters

Actress | Billy Elliot

For decades, British actress and comedienne Dame Julie Walters has served as a sturdy representation of the working class with her passionate, earthy portrayals on England's stage, screen and television. A bona fide talent, her infectious spirit and self-deprecating sense of humor eventually ...

Favourite Roles - Rosie in Mamma Mia, Annie in Calender Girls & Molly Weasley in Harry Potter.

27. Julie Andrews

Actress | The Sound of Music

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...

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.

28. Julie Graham

Actress | Shetland

Julie Graham was born on July 24, 1965 in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland. She is an actress, known for Shetland (2013), Being Eileen (2011) and Survivors (2008). She was previously married to Joseph Bennett.

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.

29. Ashley Jensen

Actress | Arthur Christmas

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 (2005), on which she appeared from 2005-2007. She was also a cast member on the ABC show Ugly Betty (2006) and the brief-lived CBS sitcom ...

Favourite Roles - Christina McKinney in Ugly Betty, Maggie Jacobs in Extras, Sarah in Love and Marriage, Jennifer in Nativity & Kate in The Escape Artist.

30. Judi Dench

Actress | Skyfall

Dame Judi Dench was born Judith Olivia Dench 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 the ...

Favourite Roles - Barbara Covett in Notes on a Scandal & Evelyn Greenslade in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

31. Doreen Mantle

Actress | Scoop

Doreen June Mantle was born 22 June 1926 in Johannesburg, South Africa and is a character actress who is probably best known for her recurring role as Mrs Warboys in the long-running British sitcom One Foot in the Grave (1990) appearing in 18 episodes in the 1990s.

Mantle first travelled to Britain ...

Favourite Roles - Mrs Warboys in One Foot in the Grave & Joy Fishwick in Coronation Street.

32. Helen Cotterill

Actress | Les Misérables

Helen Cotterill has had a long acting career since the early 1960s with one of her first acting roles being in the H.V. Kershaw-produced series for Granada, The Villains in 1964. The year after, she appeared in The Brain Drain, the final episode of the first season of the Coronation Street spin-off...

Favourite Roles - Julie in Open All Hours and Margaret Cropper in Coronation Street.

33. Anna Dawson

Actress | Brian Rix Presents ...

Anna Dawson was born on July 27, 1937 in Bolton, Lancashire, England. She is an actress, known for Brian Rix Presents ... (1960), Six with Rix (1972) and Dixon of Dock Green (1955).

Favourite Roles - Violet in Keeping Up Appearances & various in The Benny Hill Show.

34. Jean Fergusson

Actress | Last of the Summer Wine

Jean Fergusson was born on December 20, 1944 in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. She is an actress, known for Last of the Summer Wine (1973), Coronation Street (1960) and Run for Your Wife (2012).

Favourite Role - Marina in Last of the Summer Wine.

35. Jean Alexander

Actress | Coronation Street

Jean Mavis Hodgkinson, known by the stage name Jean Alexander, was a British television actress. She was best known to British television viewers as Hilda Ogden in the soap opera Coronation Street (1960), a role she played from 1964 until 1987, and also as Auntie Wainwright in the long-running ...

Favourite Roles - Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street & Auntie Wainwright in Last of the Summer Wine.

36. David Neilson

Actor | Coronation Street

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 ...

Favourite Role - Roy Cropper in Coronation Street.

37. Annette Crosbie

Actress | The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella

Crosbie was born in Gorebridge, Midlothian, Scotland, to Presbyterian parents who disapproved of her becoming an actress. Nevertheless, she joined the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School while still in her teens. Her big break came in 1970 when she was cast as Catherine of Aragon in the BBC television ...

Favourite Roles - Margaret Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave, Jessie in Calender Girls & Sadie in Hope Springs.

38. Richard Wilson

Actor | One Foot in the Grave

Richard Wilson OBE (born Iain Carmichael Wilson; 9 July 1936) is a Scottish actor, theatre director and broadcaster. He played Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave (1990). A later role was as Gaius, the court physician of Camelot, in the BBC drama Merlin (2008).

Wilson was born in ...

Favourite Roles - Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave & the dentist in Mr Bean.

39. Janine Duvitski

Actress | The New World

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 ...

Favourite Roles - Jane Edwards in Waiting For God, Pippa in One Foot in the Grave & Jacqueline Stewart in Benidorm.

40. Ronnie Corbett

Actor | The Two Ronnies

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 ...

Favourite Roles - Various in The Two Ronnie's.