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8 celebrities you probably didn’t know were born in Essex

PUBLISHED: 09:21 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:33 09 January 2018

Rupert Grint ©  Denis Makarenko, Shutterstock

Rupert Grint © Denis Makarenko, Shutterstock


It’s no secret that Essex is home to some of our favourite celebrities but there are also a number of famous faces who you may be surprised to find out were born in our wonderful county. Here are 8 celebrities you probably didn’t know were born or grew up in Essex

Dame Maggie Smith - Ilford

From Hogwarts to Downton, Maggie Smith has done it all; forging out a career spanning over sixty years, her acting prowess knows no bounds. At age 81, Smith has had a career that has extended across film, television and theatre and to this day is arguably one of Britain’s most beloved actors. Despite being born in Ilford her time spent in Essex was limited. At the age of four her family moved from the county to reside in Oxford for her father’s work and where she later attended the Oxford Playhouse School.

Dermot O’Leary - Colchester

At first glance his name might suggest an Irish place of birth, that’s not the case. Although his parents did move from Ireland before he was born, you may be surprised to hear that Dermot O’Leary actually originated from Colchester and he enjoys dual citizenship. His rise to fame began when he started working at a local radio station. From his big break in radio he moved into TV and with only one year out in 2015 has enjoyed being the host of the X-Factor for almost nine years. His bold personality and natural showmanship hints to that unmistakable Essex charm and swagger

Ben Shephard - Epping

Having presented GMTV for ten years viewers might be surprised to find out that Shephard’s home town is Epping. Now with a similarly fast pace work schedule as a sports reporter for Sky Sports Shephard’s demeanour gives little away with his natural charm and not an Essex accent in sight. Perhaps it was his time away studying for his degree in Dance, Drama and Theatre Arts at Birmingham University that polished his presenting skills. Could it be that Shephard’s exuberant Essex nature is revealed in his quest to do the impossible? He has been able to break a total four Guinness World Records, completed fourteen marathons and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Michelle Dockery - Romford

On first glance Michelle Dockery gives no inclination of her Essex roots. Building a successful acting career, she is best known for her work as well spoken aristocrat Lady Mary Crawley. Dockery has previously admitted that her accent has made her life in the world of show business difficult but she is still proud of her home town – as she should be!

Lee Mead – Southend-on-Sea

Born in Southend-on-Sea the musical theatre and television actor, Lee Mead is best known for winning the title role in the 2007 West End revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through the BBC casting show Any Dream Will Do. After winning the role of Joseph, he went on to star in other acting roles such as BBC1 drama Casualty and other plays such as Wicked, Legally Blonde: The Musical and The West End Men. Mead has pursued a music career, releasing three solo albums and undertaking concert tours in the UK and Japan. Safe to say, he is a fan of the performing arts!

Dominic Littlewood - Southend-on-Sea

Another famous face from Southend-on-Sea is Dominic Littlewood, a British television presenter and journalist who is perhaps best known for presenting BBC and Channel 5 programmes such as Fake Britain, Cowboy Builders, Saints and Scroungers and Don’t Get Done, Get Dom. In 2007, he took part in the BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing but sadly was voted off in the fifth week after losing in a dance off to John Barnes.

Joe Thomas - Chelmsford

Joe is best known for making us laugh in his role as Simon Cooper on the popular E4 program, The Inbetweeners. Joe was born and raised in Chelmsford but went on to study at Pembroke College, Cambridge where he met his future co-star Simon Bird. He graduated with a 2:1 in History, however he has often claimed that University teaching was something he could never get along with, especially the idea that whether he did well or succeeded rested solely on his own shoulders.

Rupert Grint - Harlow

Known more for his magical career than his birthplace, Rupert Grint originally hails from Harlow. He rose to fame at an extremely young age after securing the role of the loveable Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise. Although Rupert hasn’t been seen to be in the spotlight as much these days he claimed from a very young age that it was always his dream job to be an ice cream man!


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