Famous Faces from Guildford

We’ve listed some of the perhaps more well-known famous people from the Guildford area – how many did you know were born or lived here?

Tony Blackburn

The first Disc Jockey (DJ) on BBC Radio 1 and winner of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2002, Tony Blackburn was born in Guildford in 1943.

Photo: Martinra1966, Licensed under CC 3.0

Lily Collins

Actress, model and 2017 Golden Globe Award nominee Lily Collins, best known for her roles in The Blind Side, Mirror Mirror and Rules Don’t Apply was born in Guildford in 1989.

Photo: Gage Skidmore, Licensed under CC 2.0

Ben Elton

Multitalented comedian, writer and author Ben Elton, best known for his writing contributions to hit sitcom Blackadder and musicals We Will Rock You and Love Never Dies, moved to Guildford with his family in 1968. He attended Godalming Grammar School.

Photo: Ingo Hoehn, Licensed under CC 3.0

Florence Desmond

Actress of the stage and in films, Florence Desmond was also a comedian and professional impersonator. Her film credits include 1932’s High Society and 1933’s My Lucky Star. She moved to Ripley with her husband before passing away in Guildford in 1993 aged 87.

Bonnie Langford

Doctor Who companion and Dancing on Ice star Bonnie Langford has had links to Surrey for the majority of her life, performing at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre on several occasions. Now appearing as a regular on BBC1 soap Eastenders, Langford is also the patron for Performance Preparation Academy in Guildford.

Jonny Wilkinson

Born in Frimley, near Camberley, former English Nation Rugby Union Captain Jonny Wilkinson has previously been acknowledged as one of the world’s best rugby union players. In 2009, Wilkinson was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Surrey for his large contribution to the sporting world.

Photo: Léna, Licensed under CC 3.0

Simon Bird

Funny man Simon Bird, best known as the hilariously awkward teenage protagonist Will McKenzie in The Inbetweeners, was born in Guildford in 1984.

Photo: Alison Martin, Licensed under CC 2.0

Ringo Starr

Member of iconic British band The Beatles, Ringo Starr was known to split his time between Los Angeles and Cranleigh (how’s that for a contrast?!) between 1999 and 2014.

Photo: Eva Rinaldi, Licensed under CC 2.0

Delia Smith

Legendary cook, cookbook writer and television presenter Delia Smith is best known for being the UK’s best-selling cookbook author, selling a whopping 21 million copies so far. She was born in Woking in 1941 (a little far out, but we can still take her onboard as our claim to fame). Good on you Delia!

Photo: Damien Cugley, Licensed under CC 2.0

Julie Dawn Cole

Julie Dawn Cole is best known as spoilt brat Veruca Salt in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! The actress was born in Guildford in 1957 and cast as Veruca Salt at just 12 years of age.

Martin Freeman

With appearances in 40 films, including The Hobbit and Shaun of the Dead and 34 television programmes, including Sherlock and The Office, it’s fair to say that Martin Freeman is a household name. The actor was born in Aldershot (close enough!) in 1971.

Photo: Fat Les, Licensed under CC 2.0

Jodie Kidd

Fashion model and race car driver Jodie Kidd, who has appeared on Strictly Come Dancing, Top Gear and The Jump, was born in Guildford in 1978.

Photo: Brian Minkoff – London Pixels, Licensed under CC 3.0

Harry Hill

Family favourite funny man Harry Hill, the man behind the You’ve Been Framed voiceover and Harry Hill’s TV Burp, was born in Woking in 1964. He now unfortunately lives in Whitstable, Kent (boo!).

Photo: moviemaker33, Licensed under CC 4.0

Michael Buerk

Journalist and newsreader Michael Buerk currently resides in Guildford with his wife. Back in 2013 he was awarded an honorary “Doctor of the University” degree during an award’s ceremony on behalf of Surrey University. Fun fact: He inspired the Band Aid charity record and Live Aid concert after his coverage of the Ethiopian famine in 1984 touched the hearts of many.

Photo: portableantiquities, Licensed under CC 2.0


Okay so it’s not quite Guildford, but we thought it crucial to include nonethless. Woking Youth Arts Centre, previously known as Trinity Studios in Knaphill, was the birthplace of the Spice Girls!

…Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want…