Celebrity spotting in Canterbury


Have I told you about my close, personal friend Damian Lewis? You know, the guy from Billions and Homeland? Yeah, he used to live near me in Hampstead.

One day, in Budgens, I recognised this chap in cycling gear, and assuming I knew him through work, greeted him as an old friend and asked how he was enjoying the then unpleasantly cold weather.

We chatted briefly about cycling in London, and then I went to get on with my shopping. About five minutes later, in the dairy aisle, I suddenly realised that I had just been casually chatting to an Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor, not some bloke from a thing I went to at some point.

Pretty impressive, eh? I could tell you about the time I saw John Goodman in Belsize Park…but I don’t want to use up all of my showbiz anecdotes in one column. Although, to be honest there isn’t actually a lot more to that one.

This got me thinking, how can I possibly adapt to my new life without the chances of occasionally seeming a film star? Or even regularly seeing someone from Eastenders? What does Canterbury have to offer in the way of celebrity culture? I turned to the place that so many do in a time of existential crisis: Wikipedia.

The list of famous people from Canterbury is impressive. Obviously, Thomas a Becket, and a handful of other saints…Anselm, Augustine and Amantius (I didn’t get much further in the alphabet).

There are the permanent residents in the Cathedral: Henry IV and The Black Prince, to name the A-Listers. In fact, add in one of our greatest dramatists in Christopher Marlowe and you’ve got the makings of a fantastic medieval series of Love Island.

The only issue for me, being part of today’s fame obsessed culture, is that I’m unlikely to bump into any of them outside of a ghost tour. Even the more modern Canterbury legends like Freddie Laker and the creator of Rupert the Bear, Mary Tourtel, don’t offer much for the keen star-gazer.

Just as I was giving up hope, my eye flitted across the Wikipedia page to see that none other than controversial funny man Ricky Gervais is a Cantaurian (or is it Cantabrian?).

Diligent in my research, I clicked on his name to find it was actually Richard Gervays (died c. 1410), Member of Parliament for Canterbury in 1393 and 1397. I’m hoping his minutely observed cringe-inducing mockumentary on Richard II will be on Netflix soon.

My research, if you can call it that, leads me to two candidates for celeb-spotting: Orlando Bloom and John Redwood. Something there for all tastes. Unfortunately, it appears that neither live in the area any more. My disappointment at one is only outweighed by my delight at the other.

I am forced to conclude that my research has been entirely futile, a feeling you will be all too familiar with, having read this far. So I hand it to you, dear reader, who is the most famous person you’ve seen, and who should I hope to see on my travels around Canterbury?


  1. Ooh you old name dropper.
    Bumped into Lulu (quite literally) in a hotel lobby in Stockholm and chatted for half an hour. Had breakfast tea with Tony Benn on Wakefield Station after which he got into his first class seat and I sat with the plebs. Spent 2 years working with John Gummer.
    Lembit Opik and (Baroness) Shirley Williams have both stayed in my spare bed in Canterbury. And before you ask, no, it wasn’t at the same time.


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