Brighton is a city with a rich history and that includes being the birthplace of many well-known and famous people. Now, you may not know everyone on our list but each and every one of them was a superstar in their field at one point in time or another and some of the people on this list are household names.
Our 34 famous people that were born in Brighton are: Saffron Barker, Conor Paul Maynard, Joe Weller, Poppy Deyes, Jordan Houston, Holly Willoughby, Katie Price, Michael David Rosenberg/Passenger, Peter Allen, Norman Amour, John Roman Baker, Alexandra Bastedo, Pauline Baynes, Ian Beck, Denise Black, Tony Bloom, Victor Campbell, Sophie Coleman, Leon Garfield, Nick Gillard, Dave Greenfield (of The Stranglers), Peter James, Bobak Kianoush (of Another Level), Ruth Lawrence, Caitlin Moran, Natasha O’Keeffe, Steve Ovett, Peter Polycarpou, Amanda Redman, Martin Ryle, Wanda Ventham, Magnus Volk and Bernard Arthur Popley (Bernard Youens).
Saffron Barker – YouTube Star
Saffron’s name may not come rolling off your lips if you’re over 30 but she has more than 2 million subscribers on YouTube and is a member of the band Born2Blush which has put out an original single. She’s also been on Strictly Come Dancing and that makes her very famous right here and right now.
Conor Paul Maynard – Pop Star
Conor’s first album went straight to number one in the UK and his first single, “Can’t say no,” was number two in the charts as well. He has also appeared on Broadway in the musical version of “Kinky Boots”. He first caught the public eye back in 2012 when MTV gave him an award for best newcomer and he’s not looked back since.
Joe Weller – YouTube Star
With over 5 million subscribers, Joe is the biggest YouTube star who was born in Brighton (though he can’t touch PewDiePie who lives in Brighton but wasn’t born there – Pewd’s has over 100 million subscribers). His channel is all about soccer, music and whatever else he feels like.
Poppy Deyes – Instagram Famous
With over 1.1 million “followers” on Instagram Poppy can be fairly termed “famous” even if you’d like to dispute the value of her “fame”. When she’s not filling the Internet with pictures of herself, she’s hanging out with another famous social media personality. She’s best friends with Zoe Sugg.
Jordan Houston – YouTube Star
With over 1 million subscribers Jordan is definitely “up and coming” on YouTube and he’s famous mainly for his pranks and near endless procession of vlogs. You can tell he’s doing fine because he spent $200,000 on a mystery box on eBay just to open it up on his YouTube channel.
Holly Willoughby – TV Star
Holly started out as a model and then moved into TV. She’s the host of This Morning and The Voice UK and is one of the most recognizable people in the United Kingdom, today. She was voted the most popular entertainment presenter in the country in 2010.
You can see Holly at her best in this YouTube clip below:
Katie Price – Model
Katie Price may be one of the most infamous people to have been born in Brighton as well as the most famous. She began her career posing topless in The Sun newspaper and has managed to parlay what appears to be minimal talent (apart from taking her clothes off) into a fortune worth over £50 million. She’s been married to Peter Andre (the pop star) and Alex Reid (fighter) and is now married to Kieran Hayler (“reality” star).
There is no-one in the UK who doesn’t have some kind of opinion about Katie Price, whether they want to or not.
Michael David Rosenberg/Passenger – Rock Star
He was born Michael David Rosenberg but on stage, he prefers “Passenger”. His band Passenger was formed back in 2003 and they put out a single album of folk-rock before they split in 2009. Then we went solo and kept the band’s name for himself. His solo albums have been very successful.
You can check out his biggest hit, Let Her Go, on YouTube below:
Peter Allen – Leyton Orient Footballer
Peter Allen is one of those names that is famous within football and not much farther. He was born in Brighton but represented Leyton Orient for most of his career and remains the only player to have graced the field more than 400 times for that club. He retired at the age of 32 after a transfer to Millwall led to injury. He went on to become a practising solicitor.
Norman Amour – Diplomat
You might be forgiven that “fame” was only for celebrities, but Norman Armour was called “The Perfect Diplomat” by the New York Times and he went on to marry a Russian Noble. Oddly, his birth in Brighton was an accident, his parents were on holiday there and his mum went into labour earlier than expected.
John Roman Baker – Playwright
John is famous within the LGBT community and his work has often debuted at the Brighton Festival when it wasn’t snapped up by the Edinburgh festival. He currently lives and works in Amsterdam where he’s been examining the effects of pan-European migration in the wake of the end of communism in Europe. Most famous for his book Nick and Greg
Alexandra Bastedo – Actress
Alexandra played the role of Sharron Macready in the 1968 series The Champions. She was considered to be one of the big British sex symbols of her era. She was a vegetarian too and was one of the first activists to promote animal rights.
Pauline Baynes – Illustrator
Pauline Baynes would cut her teeth as a professional illustrator tackling some of J R R Tolkein’s minor works, but it was her efforts on C S Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia that makes her work well-known throughout the world even today.
Ian Beck – Illustrator and Author
Another famous illustrator from Brighton is Ian Beck and if you’re wondering where you’ve seen his best-known piece – it was the cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album. When he’s not making art for others, he’s also a reasonably well-known author and has sold over 1 million of his novels. Interesting fact: Raymond Briggs, the author and illustrator of The Snowman, taught Ian his trade.
Denise Black – Actress
If you’re a fan of English soap operas, then you’ll know that the two biggest names are Coronation Street and EastEnders. Denise was the actress who played Denise Osbourne on Coronation Street for 5 years between 1992 and 1997 and she has reprised the role twice once in 2007 and again in 2017. She was also a main cast member in Queer as Folk and has appeared on Emmerdale too. You can get a taste of her work in the clip below:
Tony Bloom – Poker Player
Tony is a notable professional poker player and has cleared more than $1.5 million in winnings in publicly held tournaments. He is also the owner of Brighton & Hove Albion which is now a Premier League football club. He has also bought another club in Belgium, Union SG.
Victor Campbell – Explorer
Victor was a Royal Naval officer who went on to become an explorer. He survived Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic and met Amundsen’s expedition on the same trip. During the First World War, Victor Campbell won distinction in his service by ramming a German U-Boat with his patrol boat and sank it.
Sophie Coleman – Triathlete
Sophie won nearly every prize going when she was a professional triathlete and has won world championships, European championships and British championships. She quit the sport after graduating from Loughborough University but has since joined the sport of cycle racing where she competes at the highest level.
Leon Garfield – Author
Leon Garfield’s novels were definitely a product of their time but in the 60s, 70s and 80s he produced many great children’s books with historical themes. His work has won several prestigious literary awards including the Carnegie Medal. Sadly, much of his work is now out of print.
Nick Gillard – Stuntman
A stuntman? You might say it like, “a handbag?” But, Nick Gillard’s no ordinary stuntman. Whatever you might think of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, you’d have to agree that the lightsabre fights were pretty impressive and that’s thanks to Nick’s tireless work. They paid tribute to him, in the movies, as the Jedi Master Cin Drallig has his name but spelled backwards. He’s also appeared in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and two of the Indiana Jones movies.
Dave Greenfield (of The Stranglers) – Musician
The Stranglers are one of the biggest bands to have come out of the UK punk rock scene. They have had 17 top 40 albums and another 23 top 40 singles. While they were formed in Guildford in Surrey, Dave Greenfield, their keyboardist, is a Brighton lad. He is often compared to Ray Manzarek from The Doors for his unique style. It was Greenfield who rescued a discarded piece that became the band’s biggest hit “Golden Brown” (which you can see below).
Peter James – Author
It is quite possible that the most famous person from Brighton is the author Peter James. He has written 35 thrillers (that includes his series about DS Roy Grace) and has sold more than 20 million books. He’s been translated into more than 37 languages and had more than 15 consecutive number ones on the Sunday Times list. He’s also a best seller in Germany, the United States, France, Canada and Russia!
On top of all that, he published the world’s first e-book (his novel Host was produced on a pair of floppy disks) and his work has been turned into numerous films, TV shows and stage plays! Then there’s the fact that he’s the Patron of a nearly a dozen charities and is an ambassador for Brighton University too.
Bobak Kianoush (of Another Level) – Entertainer
Another Level was a swift musical sensation back in the late 90s. They were formed as a boy band back in 1997 and by the year 2000 it was all over. However, they hit number one in 1998 with the song “Freak Me” (which you can see below) and Bobak Kianoush, who was born in Brighton, was part of their winning formula. Several attempts have been made to resurrect the band, but nothing has come of them.
Ruth Lawrence – Mathematician
Ruth Lawrence was the youngest person in history to graduate from Oxford University at the age of 13. She had already achieved a grade A in mathematics at O-Level at the age of 9 and simultaneously grabbed a grade A in A-level Pure Mathematics. Her father accompanied her to university for much of the time she was there. She then picked up a second degree in physics a year later! And by 1989, she had picked up a doctorate for mathematics!
Caitlin Moran – Journalist and Scriptwriter
Caitlin Moran is one of the UK’s best regarded journalists and is a regular in The Times newspaper. She has been “Columnist of the Year” several times in her career. She’s also written a novel “How to Build A Girl” which was very successful, and she wrote the script for the TV series “Raised by Wolves” which received a great reception from the critics but only a middling reaction from the British public. She is also a strident feminist who insists that young girls should never read books by men.
Natasha O’Keeffe – Actress
Natasha starred as Abbey in Channel 4’s bizarre superhero series The Misfits. Then she went on to play parts in Sherlock and Jekyll and Hyde before landing the part of Lizzie Stark in the series Peaky Blinders. She is considered an “up and coming” talent by many in the British entertainment industry.
You can check out her work in Misfits in the clip below:
Steve Ovett – Athlete
Another strong contender for the most famous person to be born in Brighton has to be the former Olympic athlete Steve Ovett, who won the 800 meters gold in 1980. He smashed several world records during a formidable career in athletics including for the mile and the 1500 meters.
A statue of Ovett was erected in Preston Park in Brighton in 1987 but it was stolen 20 years later and had to be replaced with a copy of the original in 2012. He is now a freeman of the city of Brighton.
Peter Polycarpou – Actor
Peter is a well-known actor whose biggest role has probably been playing Chris Theodopolopodous in the English TV series Birds of a Feather (seen below). However, he’s also starred in EastEnders and appeared alongside Madonna in her movie version of the stage show Evita!
When he’s not acting, he’s also singing and the TV show “Love Hurts” has his title song. He’s complete the London Marathon 3 times and is a member of the Green Party (and has stood for election once).
Amanda Redman – Actress
Amanda Redman, MBE is one of the nation’s finest character actresses. She’s won a BAFTA award twice and is best known for her performance as Sandra Pullman in New Tricks (see clip below). When she left the show, she was replaced by Tamzin Outhwaite.
That didn’t mean she’d stopped acting and in fact, she starred in The Trials of Jimmy Rose soon afterward. In 2018, she took on the role of Patron to the Brighton Open Air Theatre.
Martin Ryle – Scientist
His name may not be at the tip of your tongue but back in 1974, Sir Martin Ryle, won the Noble Prize for Physics and that makes him one of the world’s most famous scientists. His work was, mainly, concerned with radio telescopes and it is thanks to his inventions, that we can see the universe as clearly as we can today.
Strangely, his passion for physics transformed into a passion for nuclear disarmament soon after claiming the biggest prize in science and in the late 70s and early 80s he devoted his energies to the pursuit of world peace rather than physics.
Wanda Ventham – Actress
Wanda Ventham may be best known as Benedict Cumberbatch’s mother, but she is also a major talent in her own right. She starred firstly in the 1970s series UFO (see a clip below) but she’s been in Only Fools and Horses (as Cassandra’s mum Pamela Parry) and in two Carry On films too.
In 2014, she was named by People magazine as one of the most beautiful people in the world!
Magnus Volk – Inventor
Volk was a serious inventor and is still famous within the railway community for building Volk’s Electric Railway which is still the oldest operating electric railway on earth. It was in Brighton, where he built his first electric car (in 1887) and he was responsible for installing electricity in the Royal Pavilion. He is buried in St Wulfran’s, Ovingdean not far from Brighton.
Bernard Arthur Popley (Bernard Youens)
He’s from an older generation but Brighton’s first son to get a job in Coronation Street was Bernard Arthur Popley best known as Bernard Youens (his stage name). He was Stan Ogden and he and Hilda, his onscreen wife, were the best-known TV couple in the country for the best part of a decade.
You can see them in their final scene from 1984 below:
As you can see Brighton is a hotbed of talent and through the generations, many famous people have been born in Brighton. We’ve picked 34 of the best here but there are others and if this list included all the famous people who’ve lived in Brighton as well – you’d need a book to carry it all in.
The weather’s warm, the sea’s inviting and Brighton seems to encourage people to shine.