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Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom

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Updated May 3, 2018 246.9k views 2,137 items

The United Kingdom has produced so many famous TV actors. Here's a list of over 2,000 British male actors and actresses to help you sort them all out. From televised costume dramas to slapstick comedies, the list of British actors is very long, but definitely worth a read if you're a fan of actors from across the pond. 

Maggie Smith, has had a long and storied career, but may be best remembered for her sassy portrayal of Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham on PBS's Downton Abbey. English actor John Cleese is beloved by comedy fans for co-founding the absurd sketch show Monty Python, which has become a cult favorite among thanks to the work of these funny old British actors.

In fact, some of the funniest and most talented performers are British TV stars, so if you're an aspiring actor or actress from United Kingdom, you'll see your heroes here. The '90s just wouldn't have been the same without the hard-partying antics of Eddy and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, respectively). Both of them belong on any list that seeks to answer "Who are the best British TV actors?"

Of course, plenty of American TV shows also feature British actors — some whom you'd never know were from the UK. Hello, Hugh Laurie (House), Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead), and Idris Elba (Stringer Bell on The Wire). So if you've been wondering which television actors are from the United Kingdom, now you know. And if you want to vote on the best British actors in the history of entertainment, rank away! 

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
1
John Cleese is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Monty Python's Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers, Last of the Summer Wine

Birthplace: Weston-super-Mare, United Kingdom

Nationality: United Kingdom, England

John Marwood Cleese (; born 27 October 1939) is an English actor, voice actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter ...more

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2
Meera Syal is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Jekyll, Goodness Gracious Me, A Little Princess

Birthplace: Wolverhampton, United Kingdom

Nationality: United Kingdom, England

Meera Syal (born Feroza Syal; 27 June 1961) is an English comedian, writer, playwright, singer, journalist, producer and actress. She rose to prominence as one of the team that created Goodness ...more
3
Cliff Richard is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
The 100 Greatest Musicals

Birthplace: India, Lucknow

Nationality: India, United Kingdom

Sir Cliff Richard (born 14 October 1940) is a British pop singer, musician, performer, actor and philanthropist. Richard has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. He has total sales of ...more

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4
David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom

Birthplace: Brixton, Eurasia, South London, United Kingdom, London, + more

Nationality: United Kingdom, England

David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie (, BOH-ee), was an English singer-songwriter and actor. He was a leading figure in the music industry ...more

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5
Erick Avari is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Stargate, Bone Chillers, True Blue

Birthplace: West Bengal, Darjeeling district, Eurasia, East India, India, + more

Nationality: India, United States of America

Erick Avari (born 13 April 1952) is an American television, film and theater actor known primarily for his roles in science-fiction serial productions, including Stargate (1994), Independence ...more

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6
Christina Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Firefly, Mad Men, Kevin Hill

Birthplace: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Christina Rene Hendricks (born May 3, 1975) is an American actress and former model. Her accolades include six Primetime Emmy Award nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and two Critics' ...more

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7
Carol Vorderman is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Blankety Blank, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow

Birthplace: Bedford, United Kingdom

Nationality: United Kingdom, England

Carol Jean Vorderman, MBE (born 24 December 1960) is a British media personality, best known for co-hosting the popular game show Countdown for 26 years from 1982 until 2008, publishing ...more
8
Adnan Sami is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Indian Idol

Birthplace: England, London

Nationality: Pakistan, India, United Kingdom

Adnan Sami Khan (born 15 August 1971) is an Indian singer, musician, music composer, pianist and actor. He performs Indian and western music, specially for Hindi movies. His most notable ...more

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9
Anthony Hopkins is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends, War and Peace, Great Expectations

Birthplace: Margam, United Kingdom

Nationality: Wales, United States of America, United Kingdom

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins (born 31 December 1937) is a Welsh actor, director, and producer. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1992, and was nominated three additional times. Hopkins ...more

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10
Callum Keith Rennie is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Battlestar Galactica, The Killing, Californication

Birthplace: Sunderland, England

Nationality: Canada, England

Callum Keith Rennie (born 14 September 1960) is a British-born Canadian television and film actor. He started his career in Canadian film and television projects, where his portrayal of Stanley ...more
11
Kate Beckinsale is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Emma

Birthplace: Finsbury Park, London, United Kingdom

Nationality: United Kingdom

Kathrin Romary Beckinsale (born 26 July 1973) is an English actress and model. After some minor television roles, she made her film debut in Much Ado About Nothing (1993) while still a student ...more

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12
Barbara Cartland is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom

Birthplace: Edgbaston, United Kingdom

Nationality: United Kingdom

Dame Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland, (9 July 1901 – 21 May 2000) was an English novelist who wrote romance novels, one of the best-selling authors as well as one of the most prolific and ...more

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13
Alfred Hitchcock is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom

Birthplace: Leytonstone, London, United Kingdom

Nationality: United States of America, United Kingdom, England

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was an English film director and producer, widely regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. Known ...more

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14
Ayesha Dharker is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
The Indian Doctor, Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee

Birthplace: India, Mumbai

Nationality: India, United Kingdom

Ayesha Dharker is a British actress, known for her appearance as Queen Jamillia, the Queen of Naboo, in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, and for her stage performances. Her other ...more
15
David Walliams is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Little Britain, EastEnders, Little Britain USA

Birthplace: London Borough of Merton, London, England

Nationality: United Kingdom, England

David Edward Walliams (born 20 August 1971) is an English actor, comedian, writer, and television personality. He is best known for his partnership with Matt Lucas on the BBC One sketch comedy ...more

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16
Bill Nighy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Meerkat Manor, Gideon's Daughter, State of Play

Birthplace: Caterham, United Kingdom

Nationality: United Kingdom, England

William Francis "Bill" Nighy is an English actor. He worked in theatre and television before his first cinema role in 1981, and made his name in television with The Men's Room in 1991, ...more

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17
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
The Beatles

Birthplace: Walton, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Nationality: United Kingdom, England

Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as bass player for the Beatles. His ...more

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18
Anthony Stewart Head is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Merlin, Little Britain

Birthplace: Camden Town, London, England

Nationality: England

Anthony Stewart Head (born 20 February 1954) is an English actor and musician. He rose to fame in the UK following his role in the Gold Blend couple television advertisements for Nescafé ...more

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19
Malcolm McDowell is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Heroes, Phineas and Ferb, Fantasy Island

Birthplace: England, Horsforth

Nationality: England

Malcolm McDowell (born Malcolm John Taylor; 13 June 1943) is an English actor, known for his boisterous and often villainous roles. He trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and ...more

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20
Dominic Monaghan is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Lost, Chuck, FlashForward

Birthplace: Eurasia, Berlin, Germany

Nationality: United Kingdom, Germany

Dominic Bernard Patrick Luke Monaghan (; born 8 December 1976) is an English actor who was born in Germany. Monaghan first gained fame for being Hetty Wainthropp's sidekick Geoffrey in Hetty ...more

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21
Christopher Eccleston is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
The Leftovers, Cracker, The Shadow Line

Birthplace: Pendleton, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom

Nationality: England

Christopher Eccleston (; born 16 February 1964) is an English actor. The recipient of an Emmy Award and two BAFTA Award nominations, Eccleston is best known for his work on television and in ...more

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22
Patrick Stewart is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Star Trek: The Next Generation, American Dad!, I

Birthplace: Mirfield, United Kingdom

Nationality: United Kingdom

Sir Patrick Stewart (born 13 July 1940) is an English actor whose work has included roles on stage, television, and film in a career spanning almost six decades. He has been nominated for ...more

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23
Charu Bala Chokshi is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Little Britain

Nationality: India, United Kingdom

Charu Bala Chokshi is a British Indian actress.
24
Gyles Brandreth is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
Catchword, Philip and Elizabeth

Birthplace: Wuppertal, Germany

Nationality: United Kingdom

Gyles Daubeney Brandreth (born 8 March 1948) is an English writer, broadcaster, actor, and former Conservative Member of Parliament.
25
Brian Cox is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous TV Actors from the United Kingdom
The Big C, A Touch of Cloth, The Day of the Triffids

Birthplace: Dundee, United Kingdom

Nationality: Scotland

Brian Denis Cox (born 1 June 1946) is a Scottish actor who works with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he gained recognition for his portrayal of King Lear. Cox is also known for appearing ...more

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