26 British Stars Before They Were Famous

Want to see Patrick Stewart with hair or a teenage Naomi Campbell? Step right this way.

1. Bruce Forsyth.

Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

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In 1950 he was a 22 year old entertainer still finding his feet in showbiz. He’s now 85 and still going strong.

2. Patrick Stewart.

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He had hair?! The living legend in I, Claudius in 1976 for your viewing pleasure.

3. Joanna Lumley.

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Pre Bond Girl and Ab Fab Joanna was a model… and pulled these kind of poses.

4. Simon Cowell.

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Was there ever a time when Simon Cowell wasn’t famous? Yes! Here in a 1980s episode of Right to Reply, making sure his opinion is heard, of course.

5. Terry Wogan.

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Okay so he’s actually Irish but that’s close enough for us. He’s still got that side parting!

6. Stephen Fry.

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Yep, this really is Stephen Fry appearing on a 1980 episode of University Challenge.

Here it is for your delectation.

YouTube / Via youtube.com

7. Judi Dench.

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An unknown 20 year old Judi Dench couldn’t have known she’d go on to be a national treasure. Kudos to her.

8. Stephen Merchant.

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Ricky Gervais’ partner Stephen Merchant fancied his chances at Blockbusters in 1997. He’s not changed one bit!

9. Ian McKellen.

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Destined to be best mates with Patrick Stewart. Sigh.

10. Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson.


Here they are in their first foray into acting, aged 12 in Junket 89. Bless them!

11. Michael Caine.

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Even at the start of his career in the 1960s Michael had his trademark specs.

12. Naomi Campbell.

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Naomi as a fresh faced teenager in the 1980s during an early appearance on TV-am. Just look at her!

13. Helen Mirren.

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Helen Mirren was hot! Well, she still is, but in her 20s, WOW.

14. Bruno Tonioli.

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Okay, so he’s not British but you know what we mean. Before Strictly Come Dancing fame Bruno appeared in this video for Elton John’s I’m Still Standing as a backing dancer… He’s not changed much has he.

Let’s see some more of those moves, shall we.


15. Gary Oldman.

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He may be a legend now but Gary started off humbly in 1984’s Morgan’s Boy.

Alongside Michelle Collins of EastEnders fame.

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As seen here on ITV’s You Saw Them Here First.

16. Russell Brand.

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So he has always been trouble then. In 1994 the ladies’ man was arrested in The Bill after landing a bit part in the soap.

17. Keira Knightley.

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Russell wasn’t the only one. Just a year later Keira also filmed a slot on The Bill, aged just 10.

18. David Tennant.

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It seems like The Bill was the place to be as future Doctor Who David Tennant also tested out his acting skills there in 1995, the same year as Keira.

19. Paddy McGuinness.


The comedian once truly thought he was God’s Gift and appeared in his boxers on the 1995 show. The shame.

20. Denise Van Outen

Tim Whitby / Getty Images


Before finding fame as a TV presenter, actress and stage star Denise Van Outen was in a band called Those2Girls at the age of 19. Just look at those dreads!

Even she’s regretting that one.

I remember when I was 19 and wanted to be a popstar. We bombed! I had white dreads,.. what was I thinking?!

— Denise Van Outen (@denise_vanouten)

Denise Van Outen


I remember when I was 19 and wanted to be a popstar. We bombed! I had white dreads,.. what was I thinking?!

/ Via

21. Amanda Holden

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She was once unlucky in love. So tried her hand at Blind Date in 1991.

Check her out with Cilla Black here.

YouTube / Via youtube.com

22. Ant and Dec


The Geordie duo made their presenting debut off the back of their roles in Byker Grove. Now we can’t get them off our screens!

23. Tom Hardy

Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters


He may be a tough guy movie man nowadays but the Band Of Brothers star started off modelling on The Big Breakfast of all places.

Feast your eyes on his catwalk skills.

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24. Ray Winstone

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Even in 1980 he played a hard man in one of his first roles in Fox. Did someone say typecast?

25. Brenda Blethyn

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Look at her all fresh faced pre Pride & Prejudice.

26. Ricky Gervais.

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Before showing off his moves as David Brent, The Office star was in a 1980s British New Wave group called Seona Dancing. Yes, really.

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Kimberley Dadds is the UK celebrity editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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