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
Another chance to listen to the composer speaking to Roy Plomley in 1985. Sir Michael Tippett is regarded as one of the foremost composers of the twentieth century. Other than a period as Director of Music at Morley College, he allowed very little to distract him from composition. His output includes four symphonies, four operas, four string quartets and several concertos.
Favourite track: Vespro Della Beata Vergine by Claudio Monteverdi
Book: Blank pages
Luxury: Egg timer
Pam Ayres is a poet and broadcaster.
Pam was born in the Vale of the White Horse and retains her characteristic Berkshire burr. She is the youngest of six children, and grew up in the company of her four brothers and a sister in a small council house.
Although she was interested in writing from an early age, she failed her 11-plus exam and left school at 15 to join the Civil Service and later the Women's Royal Air Force, where she found opportunities to appear in amateur dramatics.
Marianne Elliott is the first woman to win two Tony awards for theatre direction: the first for War Horse and the second for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Both transferred to Broadway from the National Theatre, London, and have gone on to travel the world.
Marianne's parents, grandparents and great-grandparents all worked in the theatre. Her father, Michael Elliott, was a founding director of the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester and her mother, Rosalind Knight, now...
Baroness Newlove is the Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales. She became a campaigner after her husband, Garry Newlove, was murdered by several youths in 2007. Born in Salford in 1961 she grew up in a working class family. Having left school at sixteen she became a copy typist at a magistrate's court and later a committal court assistant. She met Garry when she was 20 and they married and had two daughters. In 1992, when he was just 32, Garry was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He...
Billie Jean King won 39 Grand Slams and a total of 20 Wimbledon titles and is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Born in California in 1943, she was the eldest daughter of Bill and Betty Moffitt. She discovered tennis at the age of ten: at 15 she won in her age bracket at the Southern California championships, and in 1961, she won the women's doubles at Wimbledon with Karen Hantze, the youngest pair to achieve such a victory.
In 1968, when professional competitors...
Philip Treacy is one of the most prolific and acclaimed hat designers working in the UK.
His work was very much in evidence at this year's Royal Wedding and at Royal Ascot. Meghan Markle wore one of his designs for her first official public engagement as the Duchess of Sussex. Other notable clients include Madonna, Tina Turner, Grace Jones, who has showcased his creations on and off stage, and Lady Gaga, for whom he made a black telephone hat.
Originally from Ahascragh, a small village in...
Guy Singh-Watson is an organic farmer and founder of Riverford, a major British supplier of organic vegetables through a box delivery scheme. Born in 1960 and the youngest of five children, his parents became tenant farmers in Devon in 1951. He describes himself as "a proper little farm boy", and spent his free time outside, clambering up trees, catching rabbits, rearing his own pig and helping on the farm.
Severely dyslexic, he disliked school, but thanks to an aptitude for performing well...
Martina Cole is a British crime writer, known to her fans as the Queen of Crime.
Martina has written 24 novels, 15 of which have topped the original fiction sales charts - more than any other author. She has sold more than 16 million books around the world, and her work has been translated into 29 languages. She also works in prisons, leading reading schemes and writing workshops for prisoners.
Martina grew up in Essex, the youngest of five children born to Irish parents. She was expelled...