Famous people from North East England of the past and present
Surnames beginning with:
Boxing Bronze Medallist
Born Tony David Bryce in Sunderland and known as ‘The Mighty Mackem’ Jeffries is a Light heavyweight boxer who won Bronze at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Brought up in East Herrington, he was the Schoolboy Champion of 1999. Jeffries turned professional in 2009 but retired from boxing in 2011 due to a hand injury. He was undefeated as a professional winning 9 and drawing 1 of his 10 professional fights.
Bishop David Jenkins
Controversial and outspoken Bishop of Durham 1984-1994. A deep thinker, much controversy arose from his views on the virgin birth and resurrection of Christ but also from his vocal opposition to the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher.
For Those About to Rock
Singer and songwriter, AC/DC born Dunston, Gateshead. Previously a vocalist and founder member of the rock group Geordie, Johnson became the lead singer with AC/DC in 1980 following the death of Bon Scott. Johnson’s vocals are familiar in classic AC/DC tracks such as For Those About to Rock, Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution and Let’s Get it Up.
In Memory of Sammy
Actor, born Gateshead, whose real name was Ronald Samuel Johnson. He played as a guitarist in a band called Pigmeat before becoming an actor with Newcastle’s Live Theatre. His big break came playing Stick in the Tyneside-based police drama Spender written by Jimmy Nail and Ian la Frenais. He also appeared in a TV adaptation of Catherine Cookson’s The Gambling Man. Sadly, Sammy’s life was cut short when he died of a heart attack while jogging in Malaga, Spain. Following his death a memorial fund was set up and a Sunday for Sammy variety concert was held in 2000 that that is now a biennial event. Featuring many of the biggest actors and performers from then region often with surprise guests the show raises money for young, creative and talented performance artists from the North East.
Coal Owning MP
Son of George Joicey of Backworth. Coal owner of mines in the Tanfield and Beamish area and MP for North Durham. Founded a coal company with his younger brother James in 1831.
Middlesbrough-born footballer and TV presenter. Born to a father from Sierra Leone. His career has included stints with Brentford, Swindon Town, Stoke City and Leeds United as well as his home town club of Middlesbrough. Once played football for the Royal Navy.
‘Hairy Biker’ TV cook and presenter, born Kibblesworth near Gateshead. In his early career he had worked behind the scenes on TV and movie production as a crew member where work included the Harry Potter films and Byker Grove. Best-known as one of the ‘Hairy Bikers’ duo along with fellow biker and cook Dave Myers who hails from Barrow in the north west of England.
Local Hero, Sultan of Swing
Musician, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist with rock group Dire Straits. Born in Glasgow to a Hungarian-Jewish father and a mother from Blyth, Knopfler was raised in the North East from the age of 7 and educated in Gosforth, Newcastle. Tyneside would provide inspiration for several songs, with lyrics that mention the Spanish City at Whitley Bay and the Dog Leap Stairs on Newcastle quayside. Notable hits have included Romeo and Juliet, Tunnel of Love, So Far Away, Walk of Life and Sultans of Swing. One of the biggest hits was the 1985 track Money for Nothing featuring a vocal contribution from fellow Geordie Sting. The Dire Straits album Brothers in Arms, on which the track featured, was the first CD to sell over a million copies and eventually rising to over 30 million. Knopfler composed the score and the theme tune Going Home for the movie Local Hero adopted as a match day anthem by Newcastle United FC.
Musician and lead singer with Franz Ferdinand, born Alex Paul Kopranos Huntley. Although he was born in Gloucestershire and primarily associated with Scotland, Kopranos moved to North East England with his family as a baby of two months old. He grew up in Sunderland and South Shields before the family moved to Scotland in 1980. Kopranos’ mother is English and his father is Greek.
Ian La Frenais OBE
Auf Wiedersehen Likely Lad
Monkseaton-born TV writer noted for Porridge, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, The Likely Lads, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads all written in collaboration with fellow writer, Dick Clement (born Essex 1937). La Frenais was educated in Whitley Bay and at Dame Allan’s School, Newcastle upon Tyne.
John George Lambton
The first Earl of Durham, known as ‘Radical Jack’. British statesman and Governor of Canada who administered the process of Canadian independence from Britain and its place in the Commonwealth. Lambton was one of the most powerful Durham coal owners yet widely respected by the miners in comparison to some other coal owning contemporaries. The son in law to Earl Grey, he drafted Grey’s Reform Bill. Penshaw Monument was built in his honour. It is officially called the Earl of Durham’s Monument.
Photographer, writer and broadcaster. Daughter of the 6th Earl of Durham and a descendant of Radical Jack Lambton and Earl Grey of Grey’s monument fame.
Another Fine and Funny Mess
English comic actor of Laurel and Hardy fame. Born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in Ulverston, Lancashire but raised in the North East where he was educated at King James I Grammar School in Bishop Auckland and King’s School in Tynemouth.
A Voice of Radio
Real name Lauren Gofton. Radio DJ and TV presenter, born Sunderland. Started out in the music industry as a vocalist, guitarist and lyricist with successful Sunderland punk band Kenickie. Lauren gained prominence for her outspoken and witty contributions to game panel shows like Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Have I Got News for You?
Remembered in Town
Durham miner from the age of 10. Later a miners’ leader, Methodist preacher and leader of the first all Labour County Council (Durham). Born Trimdon Grange. The town of Peterlee (founded 1948) is named after him.
County Durham and Sunderland radical and political agitator who founded the Levellers political movement. Thought to have been born in Sunderland where his family were prominent in local government and business but also associated with Thickley near Bishop Auckland. Known as ‘Freeborn John’ some of Lilburne’s political views and ideas were later adopted as part of the United States constitution.
Golden Boy of the Ball
Legendary Middlesbrough and England footballer, born South Bank, Teesside. Scored 99 goals for Boro in 341 appearances. Known as the ‘Golden Boy’ because of his talent and distinctive blonde hair.
In the Shadows
Real name Brian Robson Rankin, the Newcastle-born lead guitarist with The Shadowsfamed for their guitar instrumentals. The band originally called The Drifters started out as a backing band for Cliff Richard before becoming The Shadows in 1959 who became in their own right one of the most successful groups of the 1960s.
Langley Park to Memphis
Durham singer-songwriter from Witton Gilbert and founder of Prefab Sprout a popular band of the 1980s and 1990s. Albums included From Langley Park to Memphis, a title recalling the band’s Durham roots. Their hits have included When Love Breaks Down, Cars and Girls, The King of Rock n’ Roll and All the World Loves Lovers.
Former British, Commonwealth and World IBF Cruiserweight champion boxer and former Sky sports presenter born Annfield Plain, County Durham.
Small Screen, Big Screen
Peterlee-born actress and miner’s daughter most notable for roles in Our Friends in the North, Notting Hill and The Forsyte Saga. Her career started with appearances on Tyne Tees Television’s children’s series Quest of Eagles and in 1988 she has a small role in the Ken Russel film The Lair of the Light Worm. Also memorable was her role as a pharmacist in a much-talked about condom commercial in 1991.
Olympic medal winning long-distance runner born Dilston, Northumberland. Won the Olympic silver medal for 10,000 metres in Los Angeles in 1984 and was two times world champion at the same distance.
Anthony ‘Ant’ McPartlin OBE
Ant and Dec’s Ant
Ant of ‘Ant and Dec’ fame. Newcastle-born TV Presenter and entertainer raised in Fenham. Early TV appearances as a youngster included the children’s TV activity programme Why Don’t You? Ant is now one of the biggest-names in UK TV alongside fellow Geordie and double act partner Dec (Declan Donnelly). Their careers kicked off when Ant was cast in the role of PJ in the Tyneside-based children’s drama Byker Grove at the age of 12 and Dec was cast in the role of Duncan. The pair embarked on a brief singing career as PJ and Duncan best-remembered for their somewhat cheesy but upbeat song Let’s Get Ready to Rumble. Later, the comic presenting partnership became household names as a presenting duo on peak-time TV shows like Pop Idol, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, I’m a Celebrity get me Out of Here and Britain’s Got Talent.
Renowned moral philosopher who made her name at Newcastle. Born Mary Scrutton in London and educated at Oxford, she worked in the Civil Service and teaching in her early life and moved to Newcastle in 1950 where her husband worked in the Philosophy Department of Newcastle University. Mary herself joined the department in 1962 and her reputation as a moral philosopher grew in stature, particularly from 1978 when her first book Beast and Man was published when she was 59 years old. Several books have followed since including Wickedness (1984), The Ethical Primate (1994) and Are You An Illusion? (2014). Midgley is a critical opponent of the ethologist and evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins and is known for her work on ethics, animal rights and her views on science.
1924 – 1988
Legendary Newcastle United and England footballer and prolific goalscorer known as ‘Wor Jackie’, born Ashington, Northumberland. Scored 200 goals in 397 appearances for the Magpies. Only Alan Shearer has scored more for Newcastle. Milburn scored both goals in Newcastle’s 2-0 FA Cup final victory over Blackpool in 1951 and was part of the team that won the FA cup final against Arsenal in 1952 and scored the first goal (after 45 seconds) in Newcastle’s 3-1 FA Cup final victory over Manchester City in 1955. Milburn was a cousin to the mother of fellow Ashington footballers Jack and Bobby Charlton. The Milburn stand at St James’ Park is named after him and there is a statue outside the ground in his honour.
Comedian, born Sarah King in South Shields. Millican is the surname of her first husband and their divorce in 2004 provided much early material for her stand up act. Her comic talents were increasingly recognised following her debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2008. Since then she has been a regular on comedy panel shows and has hosted her own show.
I’m a Celebrity Champ
Down to earth and naturally funny TV presenter from Bishop Auckland. An early TV appearance was on Beauty School Cop Outs for MTV but Scarlett rose to prominence for her humorous and often outspoken TV observations alongside her mum and dad on Channel 4’s Gogglebox. Winner of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2016 hosted by Ant and Dec and now a regular on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.
Sunderland-born footballer and Sunderland goalkeeper whose double save helped secure the 1973 FA Cup final for Sunderland against Leeds United. Hailing from the Hendon area of the city, Jimmy holds the club record for Sunderland appearances with 627 games to his name.
Mad Cap Mortimer
Entertainer, comedian and actor, born Acklam, Middlesbrough, the son of a biscuit salesman. Once had trials for Middlesbrough FC. First met his future comic duo partner, Vic Reeves at a performance in London and Vic and Bob became famous for their unique brand of surreal humour in shows such as Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer and the madcap panel show Shooting Stars.
The surnames Milburn and Moffat