How famous will your uni make you?

Gutted for Leicester

national noad

Believe it or not, the household names that we all know and love were all in our shoes at one point – ploughing their way through a degree, unsure about what the future might bring. But what did they do before finding stardom?

Find out here, as we list which unis were responsible for creating the celebs, and decide which unis are most likely to make you famous.

The muggles

Leicester have John Tickle. You know, the guy from Brainiac. Hull can merely boast John Prescott, whose nickname at uni may or may not have been “two shags”.


Just thinking bout those two shags

Northumbria have the guy who designed the iPod, Jonathan Ive, but you’ve not actually heard of him, have you?

Comedians make up the best alumni of some of the plate-glass universities. York have Harry Enfield and Sussex have Frankie Boyle.

The first person on the very short list of “famous” Plymouth alumni is the youngest solo Trans-Atlantic sailor, Seb Clover. To be fair, I’d probably want to get away from Plymouth too.

England cricket player Monty Panesar got a BSc in Computer Science at Loughborough and that guy from Friendly Fires went to Trent.

Alistair Darling is an Aberdeen alumnus, something we’re all grateful for. On the plus side, they do have Iain Glen, better known as Game of Thrones’ King of the Friendzone, Ser Jorah Mormont.


Almost famous

Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw went to Liverpool, where he no doubt picked up his great taste in music.

Cardiff boasts the peaks and troughs of broadcasting excellence with both Huw Edwards and Adrian Chiles. Meanwhile E.L. James, the author of erotic beat-em-up 50 Shades of Grey went to Kent.


Presumably a lot of this going on at Kent

Birmingham have two Prime Ministers, just a shame one of them was Neville Chamberlain.

Top 20

20. QUB

Irish politicians, yeah whatever. QUB’s real icon is Liam Neeson – the guy who broke our hearts as Oscar Schindler and is now breaking the bank with the money he’s making from terrible action films.


He has a very particular set of skills 

19. Southampton

Brian Eno, the pioneer of Electronic music, went to Southampton. He was so proud of it, it’s been omitted from his Wikipedia page. Huh.


18. King’s College London

If you did A-Level English, you were no doubt subjected to a lot of Thomas Hardy, so thank KCL for him.


He’s hiding 

17. Bristol

For some reason, Bristol is full of comedians. Matt Lucas and David Walliams went there, as did Simon Pegg and Chris Morris.


16. Leeds

Sky Sports News legend Georgie Thompson did her time in West Yorkshire.

Leeds is pretty strong musically too with Mark Knopfler, Corinne Bailey-Rae, Little Boots, Bastille and all of Alt J.


15. Durham

For such a prestigious uni, Durham does lack a bit of a wow factor when it comes to famous alumni. There’s Gabby Logan and Shelagh Fogerty, as well as former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss.

All the other Durhamites are probably too busy rolling in cash to care about being on the telly or anything.


14. Royal Holloway

One of the founding members of FemSoc Nationwide, suffragette Emily Davidson attended Royal Holloway before sacrificing herself for the cause.

Other graduates have found fame in a more conventional manner including famous British villain Mark Strong, and singer KT Tunstall.


13. Newcastle

Chief BBC News Correspondent Kate Adie and England rugby player Matthew Tate both went to uni in the Toon.

Newcastle features this high however because it was the university of choice for MR. Bean. Yes, Rowan Atkinson went to Newcastle, before becoming super famous. There’s hope for us all.


12. Exeter

Exeter’s modest collection of graduates hits mega-stardom with J.K. Rowling. If it wasn’t for her, all your poxy unis wouldn’t even have Quidditch teams.


11. Sheffield

Sheffield is a dark horse and it might surprise people to see it almost making the top 10. The Executive Director of the FA has a BA in Politics from Sheffield. MP David Blunkett, gold medal winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis and comedian Eddie Izzard also graduated from Sheffield. I imagine they were all best mates.


Thinkin’ bout how much she loves Sheffield 

10. Edinburgh

A very strong literary presence, Edinburgh has been home to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson.

They also have protector of the realm Gordon Brown as an alumnus.


9. UEA

Did you know that Gimli from Lord Of The Rings went to UEA? No? Well that’s why it’s made the top 10.

Also home to the founder of Cafe Rouge, James Frain from HBO’s True Blood, Matt Smith (the 11th Doctor) and Tupou VI, the current King of Tonga.

UEA has a surprising balance of fame in all fields.


Watching you 

8. Warwick

Many big CEOs studied in Warwick, including the CEO of Heinz and the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover.

Sting even had a go at studying there, but he dropped out as a silly fresher.


7. Manchester

Manchester boasts an impressive 25 Nobel Prize laureates and many other successful figures. These include Anthony Burgess, writer of A Clockwork Orange, Drama grad Benedict Cumberbatch, both co-writers of Peep Show and finally Terry Leahy, the former CEO of Tesco.


6. Nottingham

Nottingham is perhaps a surprise addition to the top 10, but it has produced a range of notable figures throughout history. These include the head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, the current Prime Minister of Malaysia, all the members of London Grammar, BAFTA winning actress Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre and BBC’s Luther), and Dr. Stewart Adams, the inventor of the painkiller Ibuprofen.

So yeah, thank Nottingham Uni the next time you pop a pill to cure your hangover.


5. UCL

UCL has educated a huge number of household names including Jonathan Ross, Ricky Gervais, Chris Martin, the rest of Coldplay (whatever their names are) and Christopher Nolan – the director of the Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and Interstellar.

Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone also attended UCL, securing its place in the top five.


This is what everyone at UCL looks like 

4. St Andrews

St. Andrews has been the home for many famous doctors, including Dr. Edward Jenner, the pioneer of the smallpox vaccine.

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, Alex Salmond and the founder of Forbes magazine also all attended St. Andrews. Graduates from here can also expect to be privileged, as well as famous.


3. LSE

At a university that only has economics and science related courses, as expected, the notable alumni list of LSE is filled with bankers and business tycoons.

Famous LSE graduates include former US president JFK, Loyd Grossman, George Soros “the man who broke the Bank of England” and future PM hopeful Ed Miliband (he did his Masters there).

Graduates will either be earning shit loads, famous or both. And interesting discovery was business graduate turned rock and roll king, Mick Jagger.


2. Oxford

Don’t act surprised.

W H Auden, Alan Bennett, David Cameron, Ed Miliband (for undergrad), T S Eliot, Hugh Grant, Nigella Lawson, C S Lewis, Theresa May, Rupert Murdoch, Michael Palin, Rachel Riley, J R R Tolkien, Sir Robert Peel, Sir Christopher Wren, Sir Walter Raleigh and let’s not forget His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.

That’s just a taster of Oxford graduates. Your chances of becoming famous after graduating from Oxford are very high, but oh God don’t they know it.


It’s all a bit Riot Club 

1. Cambridge

Ever so narrowly pipping Oxford, Cambridge have Steven Hawking, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, Jane Goodall, Bertrand Russell, John Milton, William Wilberforce, Siegfried Sassoon, Sir Ian McKellen, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Emma Watson, Tilda Swinton, Fry & Laurie, Mitchell & Webb, Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, 15 Prime Ministers and nine monarchs.

Only a Cambridge graduate could win an Oscar for playing another Cambridge graduate.