Michelle Dockery. Actress
Chairman: Russ Lindsay
Many consider this to be a new golden age of television, with high quality programming attracting both high viewing figures and praise from critics. Many of the major channels have made good quality drama a priority, with larger budgets and movie-style production attracting the best talent from across the industry. Our list celebrates this talent: the actors, comedians, presenters, writers, directors and producers who are shaping British television and helping to make it among the best in the world.
Russ Lindsay co-founded James Grant Media in 1984. The company's first signing was Phillip Schofield, who is still with the company after 30 years. Russ has managed many of the UK's top television and sports personalities over the years including Simon Cowell and Ant & Dec, he has also produced the majority of James Grant Media's music, theatre and television productions. He left James Grant in April 2013 and set up Infinity Creative Media to work alongside the UK’s top production companies and broadcasters, creating and co-developing television formats and media business ventures.
Jack Whitehall. Actor and comedian
King of Comedy Jack Whitehall is renowned for his side-splitting humour and boyish cheek. Having started stand-up whilst studying, Whitehall claims that he embarked on a career in comedy because he’d failed at acting. It would appear that Whitehall is anything but a failure. Whitehall has performed a number of sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and as a former host of various E4 shows, including Big Brother’s Big Mouth, Whitehall currently stars in the series Fresh Meat and Bad Education (which he also writes). In 2012, Whitehall was awarded with the most prestigious accolade of King of Comedy at the British Comedy Awards.
Damian Lewis. Actor
At the early age of ten, actor and producer Damian Lewis would stand in front of his mirror pretending that he was a guest on the BBC1 chat show Wogan, and answer imaginary questions in an American accent. Confident at school and a hit on stage, Lewis was snapped up from drama school and has never looked back. His credits include roles such as Major Richard Winters in Band of Brothers, Soames Forsyte in the ITV remake of The Forstye Saga and various theatrical parts. Lewis was awarded an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role in the hit drama Homeland where he plays the complex character of Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody.
Graham Norton. Comedian and television presenter
Graham Norton is one of the most renowned comedy presenters on British television and radio. Having dropped out of university, Norton took his comedy/drag act to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before making his broadcasting debut on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends in the early 1990s. Norton has presented prodigious chat shows such as V Graham Norton and So Graham Norton which were some of Channel 4’s highest rated shows, attracting numerous awards. Today, Norton is famous as the host of the comedy chat show The Graham Norton Show which took over the prestigious BBC 1 Friday night slot from Jonathan Ross. The flamboyant Norton has won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Entertainment Performance five times.
The Lord Fellowes, GCB, GCVO, QSO, PC. Actor, writer and director
Of his early choice of a career on the stage, Julian Fellowes says “when I was about fifteen, Father Dominic Milroy, who was running the theatre at Ampleforth, suggested that I should not dismiss showbusiness as a possible career, which, in 1964, was pretty wild advice from a teacher and a monk. Then, a few days later, my own father voiced his opinion that ‘if you find you must earn a living, for heaven's sake do something amusing.’” Fellowes now boasts a multi-faceted and revered career both in front of and behind the camera. In 2002, Fellowes’s script for Gosford Park won the Oscar for Best Screenplay, and in 2010 ITV aired the first series of Downton Abbey, which has become a Sunday night staple for families across the UK.
Olivia Colman. Actress
The BAFTA award-winning actress Olivia Colman first became known for her supporting roles in hit comedy shows such as the mockumentary Twenty Twelve, Peep Show, The Office, Green Wing and Rev. Having moved to drama, Colman has received critical acclaim for her popular performances. Her appearance in the 2011 film Tyrannasaur earned her a British Independent Film Award for Best Actress, and in 2013 she won BAFTA awards for her roles in Accused and Twenty Twelve. She received further acclaim for her role in the hit ITV crime series Broadchurch, and has cemented herself as a favourite among critics and audiences alike.
Jonathan Ross, OBE. Television presenter
The controversial television and radio presenter Jonathan Ross is perhaps best known for presenting the BBC One chat show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross throughout the 2000s. Ross now presents The Jonathan Ross Show every Saturday on ITV. He made his first television debut in 1970 at the age of ten when he appeared in an advert for the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies breakfast cereal after his mother, a film extra, encouraged her children to act. In 1981, Ross found his first job with Channel 4 as a researcher before developing his own production company, which provided Ross with numerous television roles. In 2005, Ross was awarded an OBE for his services to broadcasting.
Steve Coogan. Actor, comedian, writer and producer
Steve Coogan was born in Lancashire, the fourth of seven children. Despite being advised against going to drama school by a teacher, he gained a place at the Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre and subsequently began a career as a comic and impressionist. He is best known as his invention Alan Partridge. The character has won Coogan numerous awards over the years, most recently winning a BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance for Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life. In 1999, Coogan co-founded the production company Baby Cow Productions which has produced a range of award-winning shows including Gavin & Stacey, The Mighty Boosh and The Trip. His feature length film, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, released in 2013, opened at number one at the British Box Office.
Sir David Attenborough, OM, CH, CVO, CBE. Naturalist and broadcaster
Veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough is the soothing voice of natural history programmes and his esteemed career spans 60 years. Attenborough was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School before winning a scholarship to study at Clare College, Cambridge. In 1952, Attenborough joined the BBC as a trainee producer and had his first chance to embark on expeditions to secluded parts of the globe to gain intimate footage of rare wildlife. Over the last twenty-five years, Attenborough’s landmark TV series such as Life and Wildlife on One have distinguished Attenborough as the best natural history broadcaster. Attenborough is the only person to have won a BAFTA in black and white, colour, HD and 3D.
Miranda Hart. Actress, comedian and writer
Slapstick Queen of Comedy Miranda Hart spent a number of years on the stand-up circuit before making her debut in television. Hart is most famous for the eponymous, award-winning sitcom Miranda, a semi-autobiographical account of her life that has had the nation in stitches. The show has earned Hart numerous awards including Best Comedy and/or Entertainment at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards and Best TV Comedy Actress at the British Comedy Awards. Hart is also known for her comforting character in Call the Midwife where she won the accolade of Outstanding Drama Performance (Female) at the National Television Awards.
Russell T Davies, OBE. Television producer and screenwriter
Stephen Russell Davies, better known by his pen name Russell T Davies, is a television producer and screenwriter. Initially wanting to become a comic artist, his careers adviser discouraged the idea, citing Davies’s colour-blindness as a hindrance. Instead Davies went on to study English literature and pursued his passion for script writing. His work include Torchwood, Casanova, The Second Coming, Bob & Rose and Queer as Folk. Davies is also the father of the modern Doctor Who, having been responsible for the revival of the classic British sci-fi series in 2005. Since its renewal, the show has seen resurgence in popularity at the hands of Davies. He was awarded an OBE in 2008 for his services to drama.
Sally Wainwright. Television writer
The acclaimed British television writer Sally Wainwright is the pen behind many award-winning television series. In 2009, Wainwright won the Writer of the Year Award given by the Royal Television Society for her series Unforgiven; wrote the British detective drama Scott and Baliey, which has now been picked up for a fourth series; and is also responsible for the two-time BAFTA award winning Last Tango in Halifax. Throughout her career, Wainwright has also tried her hand at writing for many of the nation’s best-loved soaps, including Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
Ant McPartlin. Television presenter
Ant McPartlin is one half of the English comedy and television double act Ant & Dec. Best friends since the television series Byker Grove, the pair are a broadcast entertainment phenomenon. Presenting some of the UK’s highest-profile shows such as Pop Idol, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Britain’s Got Talent, the pair has been widely recognised for their presenting prowess, winning awards such as the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards for their contribution to television and a number of accolades at the British Comedy Awards. In 2009 the duo gained international exposure when they interviewed contestant Susan Boyle backstage on the show, which became the most viewed Youtube video of the year.
Declan Donnelly. Television presenter
Declan Donnelly, the youngest of seven children, grew up on a council estate in Newcastle. He made his name when he appeared in the television series Byker Grove. Here he met Ant McPartlin with whom he went on to forge the presenting duo Ant & Dec. Despite his stint on set, Dec managed to leave St Cuthbert’s High School with eight GCSEs. The pair has since presented numerous well-known series including SMTV Live and I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! In November 2013, the duo signed a three year contract with ITV worth £5 million. The inseparable pair has scooped up awards galore; remarkably they have jointly been awarded the National Television Award for Best Entertainment Presenter twelve years in a row.
Clare Balding, OBE. Television presenter
The daughter of horse trainer Ian Balding, Clare Balding is heralded as the best female presenter of sport. She has presented five Olympic Games, four Paralympics and three Winter Olympics and has also landed the job leading Channel 4’s racing coverage. Balding has been named RTS Sports Presenter of the Year, Sports Presenter of the Year at the TRIC Awards, Racing Journalist of the Year, and was awarded the Special Achievement Award at the Women in Film and Television Swards for her work on the Olympics and Paralympics. She now presents a chat show on BT TV and hosts her own Radio Two show.
Also nominated in the Sport category.
Holly Willoughby. Television presenter
Holly Willoughby rose to fame when Storm models scouted her on a school trip aged 14. As the face of Rimmel and the body of Pretty Polly, Willoughby had a vibrant career in modelling and her comfort and confidence in front of the camera launched her into presenting. Beginning with S Club TV, Willoughby went on to present various ITV and CBBC shows. In 2012, she presented BBC1’s leading entertainment show, The Voice UK, which was the highest rated debut series on the UK. Willoughby is perhaps best known for her seat on ITV’s This Morning sofa where she co-presents the show with Phillip Schofield. At the National Television Awards 2013, This Morning won Best Daytime Programme.
James Corden. Actor and television presenter
After achieving terrible GCSE results and abandoning a B-Tech in performing arts, comic actor James Corden is now a star of stage and screen. After various small roles in theatre, Corden’s early success is attributable to his role as co-creator and writer of the popular award-winning BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey, which won the BAFTA Television Award for Best Comedy Performance with Corden winning Best Male Comedy Performer for his role. Corden is also known for his presenting prowess, having co-presented Comic Relief, Sport Relief and Big Brother’s Big Mouth. He now hosts Sky 1 sports quiz A League of Their Own, and will this year present the Brit Awards for the fifth year in a row.
Hilary Bevan Jones. Television producer
High-profile television producer Hilary Bevan Jones entered the television industry in 1979 when she gained a job as an assistant floor manager at BBC Television Centre. Since this time, she has worked on several acclaimed drama programmes, such as the hit comedy Blackadder, The Girl in the Cafe for which Bevan Jones won an Emmy and the multi-award winning State of Play. Between 2006 and 2008, Bevan Jones served as chairman of British Academy of Film and Television Arts. She was the first woman to hold this position in the organisation’s 60 year history.
Jonathan Bullen. Television director
In the television industry, Jonathan Bullen is famously known as the go-to director and producer of the best entertainment shows, both in the UK and the USA. Having spent his early career on shows such as You’ve Been Framed and The Brian Conley Show, he is now responsible for X Factor UK and USA, Pop Idol, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Britain’s Got Talent.
Hugh Bonneville. Actor
Hugh Bonneville is a familiar face to television audiences in his current role as the Earl of Grantham, the patriarch in the award-winning television series Downton Abbey. The series has won two BAFTAs, ten Emmys and two Golden Globes, as well as Broadcast and two National Television Awards. Bonneville has received nominations for a Golden Globe and two Emmys for his performance. In the run up to the London 2012 Olympics, Bonneville stared in the BBC mockumentary Twenty Twelve, for which he was nominated for Best Comedy Actor two years running.
Michelle Dockery. Actress
Self-professed cockney girl Michelle Dockery grew up a world away from the lavish lifestyle experienced by her Downton Abbey character, Lady Mary Crawley. Born and raised in Essex, Dockery attended the local state school three times a week that was held in a nearby church hall. Had Dockery actually lived in the Downton era, she admits that her family would certainly have been below stairs rather than enjoying the luxuries above. Making her television debut in 2005, Dockery has starred in the likes of Cranford, Waking the Dead and Hogfather but gained national fame in 2010 when she stepped onto the Downton set.