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

It reaches all the way from Gracie Fields, one of the most popular performers of the 20th century, right through to Coronation Street’s Katie McGlynn.

Jack Howarth, irascible Albert Tatlock on the Street, comes from Rochdale, along with Doctor Who star Colin Baker and Arthur Pentelow – Henry Wilks on Emmerdale Farm.

Colin Baker as Doctor Who with companion Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant), March 1984

Colin Baker as Doctor Who with companion Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant), March 1984

Anna Friel hails from the town along with fellow actors Michelle Holmes, Shannon Flynn, Tommy Fields (the brother of Gracie), Harley Bird and Goodies’ star Bill Oddie.

Football presenter Mark Chapman is a Rochdale native, as well as singer Lisa Stansfield and the bands Tractor, the Chameleons, the Mock Turtles and the Cassandra Complex.

Liz Kershaw, the second longest serving female DJ on national radio, and her broadcaster brother Andy were both born in Rochdale.

Singer-songwriter Lisa Stansfield on stage, May 1991

Singer-songwriter Lisa Stansfield on stage, May 1991

One of the earliest talents to emerge from the town was comedienne and singer Gracie Fields, famous for her songs The Biggest Aspidistra in the World (first recorded in 1938) and the wartime favourite Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye.

Born in January 1898, Fields began working in music halls at an early age and had built up a massive following by the 1930s. She made her movie debut in 1931 in Sally in Our Alley.

Fields became Britain’s most popular actress as well as the most highly paid. She left England for America when her Italian-born husband Monty Banks was expelled as an alien in World War II. 

Comedienne and entertainer Gracie Fields, December 1951

Comedienne and entertainer Gracie Fields, December 1951

Three Hollywood films followed after which she retired from show business to live on the island of Capri.

Actor Jack Howarth, born in Mitchell Street, Rochdale, in March 1894, went to the same school as Fields before taking to the stage at the town’s Theatre Royal.

He served in the First World War and enjoyed a lengthy theatre career before playing war veteran Albert Tatlock on Coronation Street from the first episode in December 1960 to 1984.

Coronation Street stalwart Jack Howarth with actor Bill Roache, April 1968

Coronation Street stalwart Jack Howarth with actor Bill Roache, April 1968

Howarth also appeared in the popular radio programme Mrs Dale’s Diary and even ran his own theatre company in Colwyn Bay in 1935. He took on most of the male roles himself as there was a shortage of men to act at the time!

Arthur Pentelow, born in Rochdale in February 1924, was a police clerk before moving into amateur dramatics after serving in World War II.

He is most famous for playing businessman Henry Wilks, joint owner of The Woolpack pub in the ITV soap Emmerdale Farm (later renamed Emmerdale) along with landlord Amos Brearly (Ronald Magill).

Rochdale stage and screen star Anna Friel, March 2019

Rochdale stage and screen star Anna Friel, March 2019

Doctor Who actor Colin Baker was only three when his family moved to Rochdale in 1946. He attended St Bede’s College and trained as a solicitor before enrolling at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art at the age of 23.

He played ruthless merchant banker Paul Merroney in the BBC series The Brothers from 1974 to 1976, and became the sixth incarnation of the Doctor from 1984 to 1986.

Baker travelled through time and space with companion Peri Brown, played by Nicola Bryant, and later Mel Bush, portrayed by Bonnie Langford. 

Littleborough disc jockey Liz Kershaw, April 2014

Littleborough disc jockey Liz Kershaw, April 2014

He also took part in the 12th series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here in 2012, finishing in eighth place behind eventual winner Charlie Brooks from EastEnders.

Rochdale-born Anna Friel, who began acting professionally at the age of 13, achieved national fame portraying Beth Jordache on the Merseyside soap Brookside from 1993 to 1995.

Since then, she has become an international star appearing in a number of films including Rogue Trader, Goal and Timeline as well as a host of stage productions.

Arthur Pentelow who played Henry Wilks on Emmerdale Farm, August 1985

Arthur Pentelow who played Henry Wilks on Emmerdale Farm, August 1985

Her TV work includes The Jury, Odyssey and the current ITV crime drama Marcella in which she plays London detective Marcella Backland on the trail of a serial killer.

Singer-songwriter Lisa Stansfield moved with her family to Rochdale at an early age. She attended Siddal Moor School in Heywood before winning the Search For a Star competition at the Talk of the Town Nightclub in 1981.

Her breakthrough came in 1989 with her first solo album Affection and the chart-topping single All Around the World. Affection remains her best-selling album to date.

Katie McGlynn, star of Hollyoaks and Coronation Street, June 2015

Katie McGlynn, star of Hollyoaks and Coronation Street, June 2015

Liz Kershaw, born in Littleborough, started broadcasting on Radio Aire in 1981. She presented the Radio 1 Weekend Breakfast Show with Bruno Brookes and the Radio 1 Roadshow from 1989 to 1992.

Her brother Andy went to Hulme Grammar School in Oldham before working for Radio Aire and then presenting the BBC2 music programme the Old Grey Whistle Test.