Cressida Dick is Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
She was born in 1960, the youngest child of two university professors. Her parents divorced when she was still at primary school and she and her older siblings grew up in Oxford. Their father died when Cressida was just 11. She read Agriculture and Forest Sciences at Oxford University before spending a year in accountancy.
She joined the Metropolitan Police in 1983 where her first beat was on the streets of Soho. After a decade in...
Bob Mortimer is a comedian best known for his work with his comedy partner Vic Reeves.
For 30 years, he and Vic have appeared in numerous TV series together, including Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, Shooting Stars and The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. Bob first saw Vic performing in a south London pub: Vic was wearing a Bryan Ferry mask while trying to tap dance with wooden planks strapped to his feet. Bob found this hugely entertaining, and began to take part in Vic’s shows.
Bob was born in...
Wendy Cope is one of England’s most popular and widely-read contemporary poets.
Wendy was born in Erith, Kent. Her father was 29 years older than her mother and she was sent to boarding school at the age of seven. Although English was her favourite subject at school, in a bid to defy her English teacher’s expectations, she read history at Oxford. Following graduation she became a primary school teacher.
After the death of her father in 1971, Wendy entered psychoanalysis in 1973 and turned...
James Rebanks is a shepherd and the best-selling author of The Shepherd’s Life.
Born in Cumbria in 1974, he grew up venerating his grandfather, who taught him what he needed to know in order to take over the family farm from his father one day. He found school an irksome distraction, and left aged 15 with two GCSEs. It wasn’t until his early 20s, after he’d developed an interest in reading and had met his future wife Helen, that he decided to return to study at a local college in the...
Ruth Jones is an actor and writer. She co-created and starred in the award-winning TV comedy series Gavin and Stacey, and also wrote and took the title role in the comedy drama Stella, which ran for six series.
She grew up in Porthcawl, in South Wales, where the local secondary school nurtured her love of performance. She took to the stage in numerous school musicals, along with fellow pupil Rob Brydon. After studying drama at Warwick University, she struggled at first to find work as an...
The Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller is perhaps best known for We’re Here Because We’re Here, a moving and powerful memorial to the Battle of the Somme, and The Battle of Orgreave – a re-enactment of the confrontation between police and pickets at the height of the miners’ strike.
Deller doesn’t paint, draw or sculpt and his work encompasses film, photography and installations. At school his creative endeavours were not always appreciated, and at 13 he was asked to leave the art...
Alan Carr, comedian and chat show host, is known for his love of silliness, dressing up and camp daftness. His stand-up shows have filled arenas, and on TV he co-hosted the Friday Night Project and then his own show - Chatty Man.
Alan was born into a footballing family – his dad, Graham, was a professional player and then a manager. Alan first tried his hand at comedy while reading Theatre Studies at Middlesex University. After he graduated, he took on a range of jobs before his ability...
Professor Mariana Mazzucato is an economist, who focuses on value and innovation.
Born in Italy, Mariana moved to America as a child, when her father accepted a post at Princeton University. She has lived in the UK for the last 20 years and is currently Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and the Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London.
She examined how government funding has enabled highly profitable inventions in the...
Gary Barlow, musician and Take That lead singer, has written more than a dozen chart-topping songs, and has received six Ivor Novello awards including the award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.
Born in Cheshire in 1971, his interest in music was sparked at an early age by a child’s keyboard. At the age of 10, he saw Depeche Mode on Top of the Pops, prompting the desire to take to the stage himself. He wrote A Million Love Songs, which later became a Top 10 hit for Take That,...
Tom Kerridge is a chef, restaurateur and TV presenter.
Tom made his name with his Buckinghamshire pub The Hand and Flowers, which he opened with his wife in 2005. It is the only British pub with two Michelin stars.
Tom grew up near Gloucester. After his parents divorced when he was 11, his mother took two jobs to support the family, and Tom was often left to cook for himself and his younger brother. As a teenager, he worked as a TV actor, playing small roles in dramas such as Miss Marple....
Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for her 1995 debut novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has won the Costa Novel Award twice, for Life After Life in 2013 and for A God in Ruins two years later.
Born in York in 1951, she was the only child of a couple who ran a medical and surgical supplies shop. She began to write after she had failed her doctorate at Dundee University and had given birth to two daughters. She took on a wide range of jobs while writing short...
Tracey Thorn, musician and writer, is best known as one half of the duo Everything but the Girl. Brought up in Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire, she bought her first guitar, a black Les Paul copy, when she was 16 and her first band was called the Stern Bobs. Shortly after, she formed her own all-female band, Marine Girls, before moving to Hull University to study English. On her first night there, she met her future husband, Ben Watt, and they went on to form Everything But the Girl. Between...
As one of the Guardian’s first female foreign correspondents, Hella Pick reported on events that shaped the world in the second half of the 20th century, from Martin Luther King's civil rights activism to Watergate, the Gdansk shipyard strikes to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Born in Vienna in 1929, she was raised by her mother who, in March 1939, put her on a Kindertransport train to Britain to escape the Nazis. Her mother was able to follow her to England a few months later and Hella...
Vanley Burke is a Jamaican-born photographer often described as the Godfather of Black British Photography. His body of work is regarded as the greatest photographic record of African Caribbean people in post-war Britain. He is motivated by a desire to document culture and history.
Vanley was born in 1951 in St Thomas, Jamaica. When he was four, his mother emigrated to Britain to train as a nurse, leaving him in his grandparents’ care. His mother sent him a Box Brownie camera as a present...
Jacqueline Gold is the CEO of the retail brands Ann Summers and Knickerbox. She joined the business at the age of 19 for work experience, and faced resistance because her father, David Gold, was the owner. By the time she was 21, she had persuaded the largely sceptical all-male board to invest in her radical idea: to re-invent the Ann Summers brand by selling lingerie and sex toys at women-only parties held in their homes. Along with the parties, there are now over 100 high street shops,...
Venki Ramakrishnan is a Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist.
He is most renowned for his research into the atomic structure of the ribosome - a complex molecule in the cell which translates DNA into chains of amino acids that build proteins, the essence of life. This work eventually secured Venki a Nobel Prize in 2009, which he shared with Ada Yonath and Thomas Steitz.
Venki was born in Tamil Nadu, in the south of India. Both his parents were scientists, and both pursued postgraduate...
Nile Rodgers is a Grammy-winning composer, musician, and producer. With his own band, Chic, he's been enticing people on to the dance floor since the mid-1970s with hits like Le Freak and Good Times. With over 200 production credits to his name, he has worked on many highly successful albums from Sister Sledge’s We Are Family to David Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Madonna’s Like a Virgin.
Born in New York City in 1952 to a teenage mother, he spent his early life immersed in his parents’ bohemian,...
Composer Thea Musgrave celebrated her 90th birthday this year, an event marked by celebrations and concerts around the world, including the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival. She has published more than 150 compositions, including major orchestral works and numerous operas, and continues to write every day.
Thea was born in Edinburgh in May 1928, and still has sharp memories of hearing news of the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. She learned the piano as a child, but had...
Tom Daley started diving aged seven and by the age of 14 was representing Great Britain at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He has won six British Championships, three European Championships and won the World Championships in 2009 and 2017.
Born in Plymouth in 1994, he’s the oldest son of Rob and Debbie Daley. He has two younger brothers. His success at a very young age led to widespread media attention, but as he became famous, he was bullied and had to change schools at the age of 15. His...
Henry Marsh is a neurosurgeon, who pioneered a technique of operating on the brain while the patient is under local anaesthetic. The procedure is now standard practice. He is also an acclaimed writer.
He was born in 1950 in Oxford, where his father was an academic. His mother came to England as a political refugee from Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. Henry did not initially pursue a career in medicine: after dropping out of university, he found work as a hospital porter, and only then...
Danielle de Niese is a soprano who has taken starring roles with leading opera companies around the world. She was born in Melbourne, Australia, to Sri Lankan parents, and at the age of eight she won a national TV talent show, singing a pop medley. When she was ten, her parents moved the family to Los Angeles, so that she could pursue her dream of becoming an opera singer. She also presented a TV programme, L.A. Kids, for which she won an Emmy award at the age of 16.
She made her...
Another chance to listen to the writer speaking to Kirsty Young in 2013. A prolific and multi-award winning author, Malorie Blackman has powered her way to success not just through talent but determination and perseverance. From the careers mistress who told her, "black people don't become teachers," to the 82 rejection letters she received before she was published, significant parts of her life seem to have been spent proving people wrong. A technology whiz, her first career was in...
Another chance to listen to the founder of the Hospice Movement speaking to Sue Lawley in 1995. Dame Cicely Saunders talks about her schooldays at Roedean, how she trained as a nurse and much later, as a doctor. When she was 29 she fell in love with a young patient dying of cancer, who bequeathed her a legacy of £500. Starting with that bequest, she raised enough money for a new kind of hospice dedicated to care for the dying.
Favourite track: Symphony No 7 in A Major by Ludwig van...
Another chance to listen to the singer and television presenter speaking to Sue Lawley in 1988. Cilla Black reveals her three remaining burning ambitions in life: to make a number-one record, to become a grandmother and to be treated as a real sex symbol - all this with 25 years of singing and compering success behind her. The matchmaker supreme also talks about her legendary early days in Liverpool, her subsequent career and her family.
Favourite track: The Long and Winding Road by The...
Another chance to listen to the journalist and broadcaster speaking to Michael Parkinson in 1986. Brian Redhead presented the Today programme for almost 20 years. He talks about his appearance on Children's Hour as a clarinetist, his early days as a journalist on the Manchester Guardian and his editorship of the Manchester Evening News.
Favourite track: Clarinet Quintet in B Minor - 2nd Movement by Johannes Brahms
Book: Commentary on the Bible by Arthur Pink
Luxury: Taj Mahal