FROM the moment earlier this month that the County Gazette first reported the rumours that Peter Andre and Taunton student Emily MacDonagh had celebrated the birth of a baby girl, the online interest in the story has been incredible.

Whether or not you think the couple’s new arrival is great news or not news at all, there’s no doubt that as a nation, we are fascinated by celebrities.

And although we don’t have the razzamatazz or the bright lights of London, here in Taunton we do have our fair share of celebrity connections.

Here are ten for starters. 








This is The West Country:

Given all the recent interest, he had to start our list.

Peter’s links to our area began when he met former Ladymead Community School and Richard Huish College student Emily McDonagh, now 23, after her surgeon father Ruaraidh MacDonagh operated on him at Musgrove Park Hospital in 2010.

They announced they were having a baby in July last year, and their little girl was born earlier this month.



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How many of you knew that Paul McCartney once ran a bicycle repair shop in Priorswood?

Well, actually, he didn’t (as far as we know) but The Beatles did perform in Taunton, twice in 1963, at The Gaumont Cinema, which later became the Odeon and then a bingo hall.

In 2012, the County Gazette also reported that rare footage had been unearthed showing the Fab Four tucking into some food at Smedley’s fish and chip shop in Roman Road in 1967 as they took a break from filming their road movie Magical Mystery Tour.

Does anybody else think that in this picture above, George Harrison and Ringo Starr bear a striking resemblance to England’s striking duo at the 1986 World Cup, Peter Beardsley and Gary Lineker?



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Science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke, who died in 2008 at the age of 90, was born in Minehead and grew up in Bishops Lydeard.

Sir Arthur, who wrote novels including The Sentinel, published in 1968 and developed for Stanley Kubrick’s legendary film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, was taught at Huish Grammar School – now Richard Huish College - in Taunton.

He made an annual donation to the college during the 1980s and 90s and opened the Sir Arthur C Clarke Learning Resource Centre via a TV link up from Sri Lanka in 1992.




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A former Richard Huish College student, Andrew Castle went on to become Britain’s number one tennis player, reaching the final of the mixed doubles at the Australian Open in 1987.

He’s probably best known, however, for going on to have a successful TV career – he’s hosted GMTV and appeared on Strictly Come Dancing.




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Taunton-born Jenny is famous for her film roles which include Walkabout, Logan’s Run and An American Werewolf in London, but perhaps most of all for starring in the TV series, The Railway Children.

In 2012, she was awarded an OBE for her charitable work, and returned to our television screens in BBC drama, Call The Midwife.




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Former King’s College student and now award-winning actress, Juno Temple has an impressive CV for a 24-year-old.

She’s appeared in several critically acclaimed movies, landed a role in a huge Hollywood blockbuster – Batman: The Dark Knight Rises - and last year won the BAFTA Rising Star Award, voted for by the public.



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Were he alive today, he might take issue with being called a celebrity, but 19th century Tory Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli does have a Taunton link.

In 1835, he unsuccessfully stood to become the town’s MP.

Undeterred, he went on to serve two terms as Prime Minister, in 1868 and again from 1874 to 1880.

He remains the only person of Jewish birth to have held the office of Prime Minister in this country.



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Restaurateur and TV presenter Gary Rhodes has fronted foodie shows such as MasterChef, Hell’s Kitchen and Rhodes Around Britain.

He is also a former head chef at The Castle Hotel, in Taunton, a role also held at one time by another TV cookery personality, Phil Vickery.

Phil’s not included here as we thought too many chefs might spoil the list.




This is The West Country:

During the course of a long and distinguished rugby career, Andy Robinson has played for Bath, England, the British Lions, and coached the English and Scottish national sides.

He is currently director of rugby at Bristol RFC.

Andy was born in Taunton and is another former Richard Huish College student on our list.




This is The West Country:

Actor James Purefoy portrayed Mark Antony in the HBO series Rome and currently stars as Dr Joe Carroll in The Following, shown on Sky Atlantic.

The County Gazette interviewed Taunton-born James in 2011, about his role as a Templar Knight in the medieval epic, Ironclad (see picture).


These are just a few of the famous faces with links to our area - we'd love to hear some of your suggestions.

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