Hall of Fame : R

Famous people from North East England

North East Famous People

Surnames beginning with:

A | B | C | D-F | G-I | J-M | N-Q | R | S | T-Z

Anna Raeburn

Born 1944

Agony Aunt

Middlesbrough-born journalist and award-winning radio broadcaster, who was educated at Kirkby Grammar School in Linthorpe. She is best-known as a TV, radio and newspaper ‘agony aunt’. Raeburn was the co-creator and writer of the 1979-80 comedy TV series Agony starring Maureen Lipman which featured an agony aunt struggling with her own personal life.

Victor Noble Rainbird


North Shields artist and soldier

Talented Royal Academy painter and stained glass artist born in North Shields who served as a Lance Corporal in the Northumberland Fusiliers and as a Corporal in the Durham Light Infantry. Rainbird is especially noted for his paintings of North Shields. Although he continued to paint in his later years, his passion and ambition for his art suffered as a result of the trauma experienced during the First World War where he was sent alone into no-man’s land to sketch the enemy positions. Returning to North Shields after the war, his now quickly-produced art was used as a means of sustaining a basic income as he battled with mental health issues and a struggle with drink. He died aged 48 and received a pauper’s burial.

Chris Ramsey

Born 1986

Chris the Comic

South Shields-born stand up comedian since 2007. Ramsey makes regular appearances on TV comedy panel shows and hosts I’m a Celebrity Extra Camp on ITV2 as well as co-hosting with wife Rosie in The Chris & Rosie Ramsey Show. Chris played the role of Jack Pearson in the North East-based situation comedy Hebburn written by Jason Cook that also starred North East actors Gina McKee and Jim Moir (Vic Reeves).

Rosie Ramsey

Born 1986

Presenter and Podcaster

South Shields-born TV presenter, podcaster, writer and a co-presenter with husband Chris Ramsey of The Chris & Rosie Ramsey Show. Rosie was a former blue coat worker at Pontins and has worked as an announcer at Newcastle Racecourse and as a presenter on Capital Radio.

Chris Rea

Born 1951

Steel River Songs

Internationally recognised Middlesbrough-born singer, songwriter and musician known for his rich gravelly voice. Songs written and performed by Rea include Fool (If You Think It’s Over), Let’s Dance, On the Beach, The Road to Hell and Driving Home for Christmas. Born to an Italian father, (the family were noted for the making of ice cream) and an Irish mother. Some songs took inspiration from his home town such as Steel River a reference to Teesside’s steel making past and Stainsby Girls from the girls of a local school he attended.

Vic Reeves

Born 1959

All Rounder Reeves

Real name Jim Moir, surreal comedian, actor, painter, entertainer and presenter born in Leeds and raised in Darlington. He moved to Darlington, where his dad worked as a type setter for The Northern Echo at the age of five and was educated at Darlington’s Eastbourne School. One of Reeves’ first jobs was castrating piglets at a farm near Darlington. After moving to London he took up comedy and met up with Bob Mortimer forming a comedy partnership in surreal TV comedy shows like Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer and Shooting Stars as well as comedy dramas such as Catterick and Randall and Hopkirk. Multi-talented Reeves is also an actor – including a role in Hebburn – and an artist working in painting, ceramics and photography. As a singer in the 1990s he had hits (with Bob Mortimer and EMF) with a cover of The Monkees’ I’m a Believer and a cover of Dizzy in collaboration with The Wonder Stuff.

Anne Reid MBE

Born 1935


Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, where her father was a journalist on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Anne is known for her role as Valerie Barlow in Coronation Street in the 1960s and for roles in The Dinner Ladies and Last Tango in Halifax. Reid was raised at Redcar in Cleveland and later educated at a school in North Wales. She was the subject of an episode of the BBC family history series Who Do You Think You Are? in 2015.

Don Revie OBE


Football Manager

Middlesbrough-born footballer and highly successful football manager with Leeds United in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Revie’s football career started as a youth on Teesside with Newport Boys’ Club and Middlesbrough Swifts and his professional playing career commenced at Leicester City in 1944.  Stints followed at Hull City and at Manchester City where he became footballer of the year in 1955. Signing for Sunderland in 1956 he played 64 games for the Wearsiders before moving on to Leeds in 1958 where his playing career would end and his managerial career commenced in 1962. Under Revie, Leeds became the biggest football force of the time winning the Second Division in 1964, the First Division (then the top flight) in 1969 and 1974. Under Revie Leeds won the FA Cup in 1972, the League Cup in 1968 and the Inter City Fairs Cup in 1968 and 1971. From 1974 to 1977 Revie managed the England national side but was unable to emulate the success he had experienced at club level and moved on to manage the United Arab Emirates.

ridleyGeordie Ridley

1835 -1864

The Blaydon Races


Tyneside concert hall song writer and singer principally remembered for writing the Tyneside anthem The Blaydon Races and for Cushie Butterfield. Born in Gateshead he worked as a lad at Oakwellgate Colliery near the centre of the town and then at the famed Gateshead engineering firm of ‘Haak’s’ (Hawks and Crawshay) where he suffered a serious injury. Unable to do manual work he became a music hall performer noted for writing and singing Tyneside songs and performing caricatures. Sadly, his work injury had an impact on his health and he died at the young age of 30.

Lee Ridley

Born 1980

Lost Voice Guy

Consett-born stand up comedian known as ‘The Lost Voice Guy’, who won the Britain’s Got Talent ITV talent show in 2018. Ridley has Cerebral Palsy and is unable to speak. His comedy routine involves using an ipad as a speech generating device. In 2021 Ridley auditioned North Easterners with accents similar to his Consett family to find a new voice that reflected his North East identity.

nicholasridleyBishop Nicholas Ridley


Martyr : Burnt at the Stake


Nicholas Ridley was a bishop and martyr of the Tudor era who was born and raised at Unthank Hall near Haltwhistle in Northumberland. A member of a well-known Tynedale family, he was educated at Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School and Cambridge University and became a priest in the 1520s.  Ridley did not believe in the supremacy of the Pope as church leader in England. In 1547 during the reign of Edward VI, Ridley was appointed Bishop of Rochester and then Bishop of London in 1550. King Edward became seriously ill in 1553 and Ridley was one of the key figures who wished to make Lady Jane Grey the succeeding queen and prevent the succession of Edward’s Catholic, pro-pope sister, Mary. Bishop Ridley issued a public proclamation that Mary and her sister Elizabeth, were illegitimate. Unfortunately, following Edward’s death, support for Mary had grown and she succeeded as Queen. ‘Bloody Mary’ ordered that Ridley be burnt at the stake and this was how he met his end along with Edward VI’s former chaplain Hugh Latimer at Oxford on October 16, 1555.


See also the Ridley surname

Andrea Riseborough

Born 1981


Born in Wallsend and raised in Whitley Bay, Riseborough performed with the People’s Theatre in Heaton in her early years, later studying acting at RADA. She has appeared in many film and TV roles including a portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in the 2008 TV drama Margaret Thatcher : The Long Walk to Finchley. Her numerous film appearances (more than thirty) include Brighton Rock (2010) alongside John Hurt and Helen Mirren; Oblivion (2013) with Tom Cruise and more recently Amsterdam (2022) with Margot Robie and Christian Bale.

Muriel Robb, tennis playerMuriel Robb


Tennis Champion


Newcastle-born tennis player who won the ladies’ single title at Wimbledon in 1902. Muriel, who was born in Jesmond was a member of Jesmond’s Lawn Tennis Club where she is recalled by a blue plaque at the entrance gate. Also winner of the Irish, Scottish and Welsh titles, Muriel is credited with popularising the overhead serve in women’s tennis. Sadly, Robb only lived to the age of 28, dying of Lymphadenoma. Her gravestone can be seen in Jesmond Old Cemetery.

Denise Robertson MBE

1932 -2016

A Sympathetic Ear

Sunderland-born  TV presenter, novelist, agony aunt and Deputy Lieutenant for County Durham. She was born Margaret Denise Broderick and educated at Sunderland High School. Initially working at Sunderland’s Royal Infirmary she became a counsellor and worked as an agony aunt for Metro Radio and later on ITV’s This Morning programme. Robertson was the surname of her first husband (of three) who died in 1972. Denise Robertson’s funeral at Sunderland Minster in 2016 was attended by a number of celebrities who came to pay their respects to the popular broadcaster.

Alan Robson MBE

Born 1955

Night Owl

Benwell-born radio presenter. Robson was initially known for presenting a rock show on Tyneside’s Metro Radio, but it is as the host of the station’s phone-in Alan Robson’s Night Owls which began in 1983 that Alan is best known. Alan is noted for his interest and expertise in spiritualism and the paranormal. In this capacity he has appeared on programmes such as The Scariest Places on Earth on the US ABC network and on the Larry King Show. He has hosted programmes for Tyne Tees Television and has written books that include ghost stories and grisly tales from the North East.

Sir Bobby Robson CBE

1933 -2009

Much-Loved Football Manager

A big name in North East football, Robson was the son of a miner, born in the Durham mining village of Sacriston though he was raised in the neighbouring village of Langley Park where he played football for the village and worked as an electrician’s apprenticeship at the colliery. Robson’s football talents were spotted by London club Fulham and Robson headed south. As a player he had two spells with Fulham and one at West Bromwich Albion as well as making 20 appearances for England. He briefly managed Fulham but it was as manager of Ipswich Town that he achieved the greatest success, winning the UEFA Cup and FA Cup. He subsequently managed England for a little short of 100 games. Other clubs managed by Robson included PS Eindhoven, Sporting CP, Porto and Barcelona before he returned to England to manage his boyhood heroes, Newcastle United. Diagnosed with cancer in 2007, The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was established in his name in 2008 to fund the early detection and treatment of cancer.

See also football managers from the North East

Bryan Robson OBE

Born 1957

England Football Legend

Chester-le-Street-born footballer with Manchester United and Middlesbrough. An England international who captained his country 65 times. Later a football manager with Middlesbrough.

Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson 

Born 1945

Wear and Tyne Football Pop

Sunderland-born footballer. Scored 82 goals for Newcastle United in 206 appearances and 60 goals for Sunderland in 154 appearances.

florarobsonDame Flora Robson DBE


Star of Stage and Screen


South Shields-born actress and star of the theatrical stage and cinema. Her father was a ship engineer from Wallsend but the family moved to London when Flora was a child. Educated at RADA, Robson appeared in countless movies and theatre productions.

See also the Robson surname

roddMichael Rodd

Born 1943

TV Presenter


Born in North Shields, Rodd is best-known for presenting the BBC children’s film quiz show Screen Test during the 1970s and for Tomorrow’s World a programme that featured the inventions and innovations that were set to change the future world. Rodd is now a media production consultant.

Franc Roddam

Born 1946

Quadrophenia, Pet

Film director, screenwriter and TV producer born Norton-on-Tees. He is best-known as the co-writer and director of the movie Quadrophenia whose stars included Sting and is hailed in the North East as the creator of the comedy drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet which he pitched to writers Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement. Roddam is also noted for the creation of TVs Master Chef.

See also the Roddam surname

Paul Rodgers

Born 1949

‘All Right Now’ Rocker

Influential Middlesbrough-born singer and songwriter who was the vocalist with the 1960s and 70s bands Free and Bad Company before going on to pursue a solo career. Rodgers was the singer and co-writer for the well-known Free track All Right Now and likewise for the Bad Company song Feel Like Makin’ Love.

Louise Ross

Born 1985

Crime writer

Northumberland-based and Ponteland-born former barrister writing under the name LJ Ross. The author’s debut novel, Holy Island (2015) introduced Detective Chief Inspector Ryan to the literary world. Followed later that year with Sycamore Gap, they set the tone for a series of novels set in various locations in North East England including High Force (2017); Seven Bridges (2018); Penshaw (2019) and Bamburgh (2022). As of 2022 there have been nineteen novels in the DCI Ryan North East-focused series. Other works by Ross include a suspense series set in Cornwall and a series featuring a forensic psychologist, Alexander Gregory, with overseas settings.

Gary Rowell

Born 1957

Sunderland Football Hero

Footballer, born Seaham, who played for his boyhood heroes Sunderland, as well as Norwich City and Middlesbrough. Rowell scored 88 goals for Sunderland in 257 appearances. For Sunderland supporters one of Rowell’s biggest moments was scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 win away to local rivals Newcastle United in 1979.

See also the Rowell surname

Pam Royle

Born 1958

TV Presenter

TV Presenter raised in North Yorkshire, Pam was educated at Stokesley Comprehensive School, Teesside High School and Newcastle University though her TV career began in Hong Kong. She first joined Tyne Tees Television as a weather presenter in 1983, followed by stints with Central Television, ITN News and LWT in London. Pam returned to Tyne Tees to work as a presenter alongside Paul Frost in 1984 and alongside Mike Neville from 1996. Later working alongside Ian Payne, Pam continued to be a main presenter for the Tyne Tees’ regional news programme up until 2021.

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See also our North East surnames page

The surnames Ridley. Robson and Rowell

are Border Reiver names, find out more


North East England History and Culture