The city of Sheffield has more than its fair share of famous sons and daughters, including world-renowned musicians, actors, comedians, footballers and runners. We’re celebrating some of the most iconic people to come out of the Steel City.
We take a look at some of the most enduring and successful men and women to come out of South Yorkshire…
Sean Bean, actor
Born in Handsworth, 1959
Bean is one of Britain’s finest character actors. He earned his reputation with leading roles in the TV series Sharpe and the Sheffield-based football drama When Saturday Comes. He’s also appeared in supporting roles in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, GoldenEye and the critically acclaimed HBO series Game Of Thrones. He’s also garnered something of a reputation for playing characters who rarely make it to the closing credits alive, so try not to get too attached to his character next time you see him on screen. Most recently, he won plaudits for playing a conflicted Catholic priest in the BBC drama Broken.
Jessica Ennis-Hill, athlete
Born in Sheffield, 1986
Few British athletes have had as glittering a career as Jessica Ennis-Hill. She’s been an Olympic champion, a three-time world champion and a European Champion in the heptathlon. Born in Sheffield to a Jamaican father and English mother, she’s a lifelong fan of Sheffield United and had a stand at the club’s Bramall Lane stadium named after her. She was made a Dame in 2017.
Jarvis Cocker, musician
Born in Sheffield, 1963
Despite his current role as a smooth-voiced BBC Radio 6 Music DJ, Cocker will always be best known as the lanky, bespectacled, floppy-haired frontman of Britpop darlings Pulp. The band released one of the defining albums of the 90s in the quadruple platinum Different Class, which included the hit singles ‘Common People’ and ‘Disco 2000’. Harry Potter fans may have spotted him in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire as a member of the fictional band The Weird Sisters, and Cocker also leant his voice to the Wes Anderson animated film Fantastic Mr Fox. He’s a Sheffield Wednesday fan.
Michael Palin, actor, author and presenter
Born in Broomhill, 1943
Palin is something of a deity to Monty Python fans, yet his career went on to even greater heights in the wake of the group’s dissolution in 1974. Equally revered as an actor and a writer, Palin became synonymous with travel documentaries in the 80s and 90s, travelling from the North Pole to the South Pole in one series and traversing the globe in another. He also has enjoyed success in films, including the Pythons’ The Holy Grail and The Life Of Brian and the black comedy A Fish Called Wanda, which co-starred his fellow ex-Python John Cleese.
Jamie Vardy, footballer
Born in Sheffield, 1987
Vardy’s rags to riches story is the stuff of films, to the point that there’s been talk of a Hollywood biopic of the Leicester City striker. After being released by his hometown club, Sheffield Wednesday, as a teenager, Vardy worked his way up through non-league football, eventually arriving at Leicester City, who were in the Championship at that point. Two years later, they were Premier League champions, spurred on by Vardy’s 24 goals. It’s probably safe to say that Sheffield Wednesday regret letting him go.
Bruce Dickinson, musician
Born in Worksop, 1958
He may have been born in Nottinghamshire, but Dickinson was raised in Sheffield from the age of six. While at school in Sheffield, he discovered his love of music and set out to become a drummer. It was only when his extraordinary singing ability became apparent that Dickinson found his true calling and it was this ability that led to him joining Iron Maiden, the biggest British metal band of the era. He quit the band in 1993 only to return six years later. A qualified commercial pilot, Dickinson flew the band from country to country in a customised Boeing 757 on their 2008/2009 world tour.
Sebastian Coe, athlete
Born in London, 1956
Another who was transplanted to Sheffield, Lord Coe moved to Crosspool in Sheffield when he was a boy. It was there that he was inspired to take up running, joining the Hallamshire Harriers via a geography teacher at his secondary school. That influential teacher helped uncover one of the greatest runners in British sporting history. Seb Coe became part of a golden generation of British runners in the 80s, regularly coming up against Steve Cram and Steve Ovett in middle-distance races. Coe won two Olympic gold medals in the 1,500m and two silvers in the 800m and was an instrumental figure in London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games.
Alex Turner, musician
Born in High Green, 1986
The frontman of the Arctic Monkeys, Turner is at the forefront of the revival of Sheffield’s music scene. His band burst onto the scene with their debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and their number one single ‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor’. The band released four more albums before going on hiatus. Turner also makes up one half of The Last Shadow Puppets with fellow musician Miles Kane, and has recorded the soundtrack for Richard Ayoade’s debut film Submarine. Before making it big in music, he worked as a barman at The Boardwalk in Sheffield, gaining influence from acts who appeared there, such as Richard Hawley and John Cooper Clark.
Gordon Banks, footballer
Born in Sheffield, 1937
Banks was the man between the posts when England won the World Cup in 1966 and his save from Pelé in the 1970 World Cup is the stuff of legends. He made almost 300 appearances for Leicester before moving on to Stoke after the World Cup win. A car crash in 1972 made Banks blind in one eye, forcing him to retire.