The Radio Times TV 100 counts down the most important television talent of the last year – and while some on our list have enjoyed decades in the television industry, others have achieved dizzy heights at a young age.
Some of these stars have broken onto the scene in the last 12 months, soaring from relative obscurity to global fame, while others have been on our radar for a good few years already, putting the rest of us to shame with their ambition, creativity and success.
Here are the top ten stars on our TV 100 aged 30 and under…
1. Pearl Mackie (aged 30, place on list: 10)
Before she was handpicked to play companion Bill Potts on Doctor Who, Pearl Mackie’s TV experience amounted to one episode of Doctors. Fast-forward through a series of the BBC1 sci-fi smash hit and her name is known around the world with Mackie lauded for breaking down barriers and winning rave reviews as the show’s first openly gay companion. She departs Doctor Who this Christmas, along with Doctor Peter Capaldi, in what is sure to be one of the most talked-about episodes of television over the festive period. Next she’ll be seen on stage in a West End revival of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party with Zoe Wanamaker, Stephen Mangan and Toby Jones.
2. Kit Harington (aged 30, place on list: 11)
Aged just 30, Kit Harington is one of the biggest television stars in the world thanks to his role as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. Back from the dead, he proved central to the most recent series of HBO’s fantasy drama which once again broke viewing records as millions tuned in the world over to watch the battle for the Iron Throne lurch into its final stages. But while Thrones fans begin the long wait for season eight, Harington will pop back up on screens in BBC1’s three-parter Gunpowder, playing his real-life ancestor Robert Catesby – the mastermind behind the 1605 plot to blow up the houses of Parliament. Expect fireworks.
3. Asim Chaudhry (aged 30, place on list: 26)
Fans of People Just Do Nothing will know Asim Chaudhry as his legendary, perverted and severely deluded comic creation Chabuddy G. The Bafta-winning BBC3 mockumentary follows an incompetent team running Kurupt FM – a pirate radio station in west London – and Chaudhry plays the crew’s manager. Chaudhry was instrumental in creating the series, having shot and edited it when it started out on YouTube, and going on to win an RTS award and earn a Bafta nomination for the role. Chaudhry has also starred alongside David Hasselhoff in the Emmy-winning sitcom Hoff the Record and next year will be seen in the film Eaten by Lions with Johnny Vegas. Weird and wonderful is his forté, it seems.
4. Millie Bobby Brown (aged 13, place on the list: 29)
Scarcely a teenager, Millie Bobby Brown was the breakout star of Stranger Things – the Netflix sci-fi phenomenon which took the TV viewing public by storm last year – with her shorn-haired Eleven becoming something of a pop culture icon. A year on, and countless fan theories, column inches and awards later, Bobby Brown and her co-stars are gearing up to launch the hotly-anticipated second series. And in the meantime, she’s made plenty of her newfound fame, appearing in music videos, modelling for Sketchers and Calvin Klein, and signing up for her feature film debut in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
5. Scarlett Moffatt (aged 26, place on the list: 34)
Scarlett was a TV favourite long before her stint on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, thanks to her exploits and opinions on the Gogglebox sofa. But her decision to sign up to ITV’s reality series marked a turning point in her career which reached new heights when she charmed audiences into voting her their jungle queen. Since then, she’s been recruited by I’m a Celeb’s Ant and Dec to present on Saturday Night Takeaway, helped to host the National Television Awards and landed her own Channel 4 series of Street Mate. There’s no stopping Scarlett.
6. Daisy May (aged 30) and Charlie Cooper (aged 28, place on the list: 49)
Hot on the heels of Phoebe Waller-Bridge – whose BBC3 series won fans around the world – come siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper, the writers of This Country. The mockumentary delighted audiences when it aired on the BBC’s online channel earlier this year with its sharply-observed take on their upbringing in the Cotswolds – a version of the twee county that doesn’t make it onto the front cover of Country Living magazine. The pair play cousins Kerry and Kurtan who take viewers on a tour of their village Northleach, via such events as the community’s annual scarecrow making competition to the new tattoo business of local ‘hardwoman’ Mandy. With a second series already commissioned, the next year is looking bright for this talented twosome.
7. Michelle Keegan (aged 30, place on the list: 51)
The transition from soap is a tough one; where the likes of Suranne Jones and Katherine Kelly have succeeded, many have failed. But since quitting as Coronation Street’s Tina McIntyre three years ago, Michelle Keegan has seen her career flourish. A well-received role in Ordinary Lies was consolidated last year when she took over from Lacey Turner as the lead in Our Girl – the BBC drama set within the army – attracting over six million viewers as her character Georgie Lane battled terrorists in Kenya and wrestled with her love life. Series three airs later this year – with double the number of episodes to reward the success of Keegan’s debut – and marks an exciting trajectory for the young star who also impressed in ITV’s Tina and Bobby earlier this year.
8. Lucy Fallon (aged 21, place on the list: 61)
Coronation Street has enjoyed a bumper year, thanks in large part to Lucy Fallon who played vulnerable teenager Bethany Platt with skill and sensitivity as her young character was sucked into a ring of grooming and sexual exploitation. The storyline has won high praise from viewers and critics and in just two-and-a-half years Fallon has become one of the country’s most recognisable soap stars, nominated for a string of awards for her efforts.
9. Molly Windsor (aged 20, place on the list: 74)
Anyone tuning into BBC drama Three Girls was left harrowed by its tale of a trio of teenagers groomed by a paedophile ring in Rochdale. The drama sensitively shone a spotlight on controversial content, a delicate balancing act achieved thanks in part to young actress Molly Windsor who portrayed 14-year-old Holly Winshaw – a fictional character created from real-life events. Windsor shone as the youngster who finds herself drawn into a frightening world of sexual grooming before bravely taking on the group of men who abused her. The three-part drama was the most requested programme on BBC iPlayer last May and we suspect we’ll be hearing about it again come Bafta season next year.
10. Michaela Coel (aged 29, place on the list: 77)
Michaela Coel’s name has been firmly on the map for a few years now, ever since she burst onto the scene with her Channel 4 comedy Chewing Gum. Landing a Bafta award for her first series, Coel put out a second run this year, which was met with equal acclaim. Fans will be disappointed to hear there are no current plans to make more, but Coel’s decision to call time on her hit show is testament to the exciting potential of this in-demand all-rounder. We’ll all be waiting with baited breath to see what she does next.