We in the UK have contributed a great many valuable creations to the world: football, the fry-up, the first commercially successful light farm tractor and the telephone (kind of).
The modern world, however, is far more interested in celebrities than pioneering social and scientific advances, so here’s a list of female celebs that sprang from the shores of Blighty and made their mark across the globe.
Many aspiring Australian actors test their acting chops on Aussie daytime soap Home and Away, and Naomi Watts starred as Julie Gibson on the show during the early nineties. Naomi Watts, however, is not Australian.
Watts was actually born in Shoreham, Kent. Her mother is Welsh and was working as a costume designer; her father was an Englishman employed as a sound engineer, working for such big names as Pink Floyd.
Her parents split in 1972, leaving Watts in the custody of her mother, and she spent much of her childhood in Wales and then Suffolk following her mother’s remarriage. Sadly, her father died of a drugs overdose in 1976.
Her family moved to Australia when Watts was 14, where her mother enrolled her in acting classes.
Off the back of her star turn in Home and Away, Watts moved to the US to pursue the Hollywood dream. The Nineties weren’t particularly friendly to Watts, and after a decade of small TV roles she finally made her movie breakthrough in 2001’s Mulholland Drive.
Although her heritage is little known, Watts has stated: “I consider myself British and have very happy memories of the UK. I spent the first 14 years of my life in England and Wales and never wanted to leave.”
Her British background will serve her well in the coming months as she is currently filming Diana, starring as the eponymous princess. Her UK roots will no doubt be heavily publicised during the film’s advertising campaign.
Hailing from Harlow (one of the driest areas in the UK, don’t you know) Posh Spice has done pretty well for an Essex lass. From global stardom with pop mega group the Spice Girls, her marriage to English football poster boy David Beckham secured her position as British celebrity royalty.
When your husband’s an international sporting superstar, travel becomes part and parcel of the deal, and following David’s career has led her and their three boys to Spain, America, Italy and France.
After an unsuccessful attempt to launch a solo career, Victoria’s transatlantic move whilst David was playing for L.A. Galaxy allowed her to redefine herself as a fashion designer and parfumier.
But even these efforts can’t get her out of her husband’s fame shadow, and David’s signature scent regularly outsells her own.
Best known for her role as Californian girl-next-door Marissa Cooper in teen drama The O.C., Mischa Barton is actually a Londoner.
She was born in Hammersmith in 1986, to an Irish mother and an English father, who brought his family to New York in 1992.
Before attaining the role that launched her into the mainstream, Barton had bit parts in some of the biggest films of the late Nineties. She played a sassy 12 year-old actress in Notting Hill and the victim of filicide in The Sixth Sense.
Now a successful model and fashion designer, this London girl typifies the dream lifestyle of the all-American girl.
Like Marmite, Sharon Osbourne is British. Unlike Marmite, I’ve never heard of anyone who loves her.
Born in Brixton in 1952, Sharon Arden married Black Sabbath frontman and rock god Ozzy Osbourne in 1982, managing her husband’s career and reportedly responsible for a great deal of his success. The popular Ozzfest tour was actually Sharon’s brainchild.
She emerged from behind her husband’s shadow during the filming of the inconceivably popular reality show The Osbournes in 2002. Her depiction as the wacky, long-suffering wife of the permanently addled Ozzy launched her career skyward, gaining her the roles on America’s Got Talent and The X Factor that she is now best known for.
Although the family have lived in Beverly Hills for some years, Sharon’s return to the judging panel on the UK version of The X Factor will this year bring her back to the UK. Joy.
Actress Rachel Weisz has an enviably diverse background. Born in Westminster to a Hungarian father and an Austrian mother, she grew up in a home that was a great mix of culture and intellectualism. Her mother was a teacher and psychotherapist and her father an inventor. This environment no doubt contributed to her earning a university place at Cambridge.
Like her contemporary Catherine Zeta-Jones, Weisz’s big break came playing the female lead in a big budget, tongue-in-cheek American family flick. Whilst Zeta-Jones was getting de-robed by Antonio Banderas’ swordplay, Weisz was the prim and proper British foil to Brendan Fraser in 1999’s The Mummy.
Weisz’s career took off from there, her most critically acclaimed role being Tessa Quayle in 2006’s The Constant Gardener, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She currently resides in New York with her husband, Bond actor Daniel Craig. The pair have reportedly purchased a three-bedroom apartment in the trendy SoHo district for the modest sum of $11.5 million. Wise investment; property in the UK’s a rip-off.