Britain is home to a bustling industry of celebrities, some of whom are famous the world over, and some of whom manage to achieve a massive amount of fame in the UK and complete anonymity everywhere else. If you’re British, it might be interesting to hear how little Americans know about some of your most famous celebs. And if you’re American, peering into British pop culture you know nothing about is almost like looking into a parallel universe you didn’t know existed. Here are 10 British celebrities who are huge in the UK and unknown in America.
1. Lucy Watson
You can’t talk about British celebrities without talking about British reality TV stars. Britain basically invented reality TV and exported it to America. Lucy Watson is a TV personality and model who made it big on the reality show Made in Chelsea. It’s like The Hills except it’s British and everyone knows it. Watson is a tabloid star now as she has 1.4 million Instagram followers and her bikini pics frequently grace the Daily Mail.
2. Sam Faiers
Sam Faiers is another reality TV star who rose to fame on Britain’s other major reality show, The Only Way is Essex. Since making it big there, she’s appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and is establishing a career as a model.
3. Amanda Holden
The UK has a million famous TV presenters! Amanda Holden is one of them, as well as an actress and singer. She’s been a host of Britain’s Got Talent since 2006. Britain is obsessed with talent shows, and has inflicted that obsession upon the entire world.
4. Nick Grimshaw
Another of the UK’s most famous TV presenters (it seems that about 1/5 of the British population has a job presenting on TV), I guess Nick Grimshaw is basically the Ryan Seacrest of Britain, except unlike Seacrest, he’s actually out of the closet. Grimshaw hosts The Radio 1 Breakfast Show and The Album Chart Show and was a judge on The X Factor. He’s mostly famous for playing games with celebrities on the radio.
5. Katie Price
Katie Price is basically the UK’s Kim Kardashian, and she pioneered being famous just for being famous first. In the ‘90s she was known as Jordan and worked as a model, but was primarily famous for her giant breast implants. In the 2000s she starred in reality TV shows like I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! She’s the second-highest-selling British author of all time (after J.K. Rowling, of course), for her ghostwritten autobiographies detailing her multiple marriages and dramatic personal life.
6. Cheryl Cole
If you’re an American who’s really into gossip blogs there’s a chance you’ve heard of Cheryl Cole, but she’s basically unknown across the pond despite being one of the most famous women in Britain. She started her career in the girl group Girls Aloud in the early 2000s, then became a judge on the UK X Factor. Cheryl is now best known in the US as the mother of One Direction singer Liam Payne’s newborn son. She’s also apparently just known as Cheryl now.
7. Dannii Minogue
The case of the Minogue sisters is endlessly fascinating. Kylie Minogue is the Madonna of Australia, and is known in the US only for her one 2001 hit «Can’t Get You Out of My Head». Her little sister Dannii Minogue is also super famous in Australia and in the UK, but is entirely unheard of in America. Dannii is a singer, actress, fashion designer, and a judge on Britain’s Next Top Model and The X Factor UK (because you aren’t truly famous in Britain until you judge a reality show).
8. Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams is one of the most famous musicians in Britain, and is only known in the US by people who remember his one hit «Millennium» in 1999. He’s sold 77 million albums worldwide, making him the top-selling solo artist in Britain of all time. He’s won more BRIT awards than anyone else. He’s friends with Elton John and has lived in LA since 2006. And yet despite signing the biggest record deal in UK history with the intent to break into the US market, he’s still completely unknown here. I guess there’s always next year.
9. Chris Evans
No, not Captain America Chris Evans. The UK has their own Chris Evans. He’s a TV presenter on British shows Americans have never heard of like The Big Breakfast. He was a host of Top Gear in 2015 and 2016 but has since gone back to his morning food-related roots, hosting Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2. He was once married to Billie Piper, who is very famous in Britain, but I didn’t put her on this list because she’s on Doctor Who and a lot of Americans know her from that.
Westlife was on the level of N*Sync or the Backstreet Boys, and they managed to achieve fame across Europe… but they just couldn’t cross the Atlantic. I just found out on Wikipedia that they’re actually Irish but they were put together by Simon Cowell and achieved massive fame in the UK so I’m counting them.
What British celebrities unknown across the pond did I miss? Tweet at me and let me know @erikaheidewald!
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