It’s hard to believe the rich vein of showbiz talent running through Southport.

It reaches all the way from Dora Bryan and Anthony Quayle in the 1950s right through to Not Going Out star Lee Mack and current Coronation Street actor Ryan Prescott.

Miranda Richardson – Queenie in Blackadder – comes from Southport along with actors Robin Askwith, Jan Holden and Stacey Roca from TV sitcom The Office.

Miranda Richardson and Jimmy Tarbuck both won showbiz personality awards in 1986

Miranda Richardson and Jimmy Tarbuck both won showbiz personality awards in 1986

Heartbeat actor David Lonsdale hails from Southport along with celebrity chef Marcus Wareing, Indie rock band Gomez and singer-song writer Marc Almond.

On top of that, one of Coronation Street’s greatest actresses – Jean Alexander – was proud to make Southport her home.

She played caretaker Hilda Ogden, one of the nation’s best-loved soap characters, from 1964 until her tearful departure in 1987.

Singer-songwriter Marc Almond on stage, August 2014

Singer-songwriter Marc Almond on stage, August 2014

Born in Toxteth in October 1926, Alexander spent five years as a library assistant before moving into repertory theatre in Oldham and Stockport.

After making her TV debut in the Merseyside police drama Z-Cars in 1962, Alexander nearly missed out on Coronation Street altogether when she auditioned for the role of Hilda.

The producers were considering Betty Driver, who later played barmaid Betty Turpin, for the part but turned her down because they thought the role demanded someone ‘more slender’!

Southport comedian and actor Lee Mack, October 2013

Southport comedian and actor Lee Mack, October 2013

Hilda’s final episodes in 1987 attracted nearly 27 million viewers – the highest in the show’s history. 

Alexander then played thrifty junk-shop owner Auntie Wainwright in Last of the Summer Wine from 1992 until the end of the series in 2010.

Instantly recognisable through her distinctive voice, actress Dora Bryan was born in Southport in February 1923. She first took to the stage with Oldham Repertory Company.

Robin Askwith with Charlotte Rampling in the TV play Infidelities, August 1983

Robin Askwith with Charlotte Rampling in the TV play Infidelities, August 1983

Her real name was Dora May Broadbent, but she changed it to Bryan on the suggestion of Noel Coward when she appeared in his West End play Private Lives.

She took inspiration from a box of Bryant and May matches, but the final ‘t’ of Bryant was left out by mistake on the theatre posters. Bryan decided to stick with it.

After playing trademark cameos in films and TV shows including Hancock’s Half Hour, Bryan released the popular song All I Want for Christmas is a Beatle. It was voted the best bad record of 1963!

Dora Bryan marries cricketer Bill Lawton in the snow in Oldham, February 1954

Dora Bryan marries cricketer Bill Lawton in the snow in Oldham, February 1954

Bryan took leading roles in the musicals Gentleman Prefer Blondes in 1962 and Hello Dolly! from 1966 to 1968 and won a BAFTA for her portrayal of single mother Helen in the 1961 movie A Taste of Honey.

In February 1954, Bryan married Lancashire cricketer Bill Lawton at Werneth St Thomas church in Oldham. They were married for 54 years until Bill died in 2008 from Alzheimer’s disease.

Robin Askwith, born in Southport in October 1950, made his movie debut at the age of 18 as the pupil Keating in the 1968 film if… about insurrection in an English public school.

Heartbeat actor David Lonsdale playing Uncle Eric, November 2019

Heartbeat actor David Lonsdale playing Uncle Eric, November 2019

In the early 1970s, he appeared in a string of comedy movies including Carry On Girls and No Sex Please, We’re British before becoming a household name playing Timothy Lea in the Confessions film series.

After briefly portraying Ritchie de Vries in Coronation Street in 2013, Askwith has appeared on TV in Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and the sitcom Benidorm.

Acclaimed Southport actress Miranda Richardson made her film debut playing Ruth Ellis, the last women to be hanged in the UK, in the 1985 movie Dance with a Stranger.

Jean Alexander relaxing at her Southport home, December 1987

Jean Alexander relaxing at her Southport home, December 1987

A year later, she found TV fame as Queenie – a brilliant comic version of Queen Elizabeth I – in the Rowan Atkinson series Blackadder II.

Richardson’s distinguished stage and screen career has seen her receive two Academy Award nominations. She won a BAFTA for Best Actress in a supporting role for the 1992 movie Damage.

One critic hailed Richardson as ‘the greatest actress of our time in any medium’ after she appeared in the one-woman show Orlando at the Edinburgh Festival in 1996.

Anthony Quayle, right, and Harry Andrews who starred in the movie Ice Cold in Alex, November 1957

Anthony Quayle, right, and Harry Andrews who starred in the movie Ice Cold in Alex, November 1957

Southport actor David Lonsdale, pictured as Uncle Eric in his 2019 Christmas stage show, is best known for playing David Stockwell in the long-running TV police drama Heartbeat.

He has also appeared in Coronation Street, medical drama Casualty and the films Downton Abbey and The Full Monty.

Southport singer-songwriter Marc Almond went to Number One in January 1989 duetting with Gene Pitney on Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart.

Almond also reached the top spot with the duo Soft Cell with Dave Ball and their 1981 single Tainted Love. Soft Cell’s other hits included Bedsitter, Torch and Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.