Radio Times TV 100 2018 – the full list

Olivia Colman tops a list of the hottest stars on British television – but who else makes this year's rundown?

Radio Times TV 100, Getty

Who has captured the imagination of TV viewers in the past year? Which stars are at the top of broadcasters’ wish lists, who landed the biggest roles, and who masterminded the moments that had you glued to your screen?


The Radio Times TV 100 put those questions to some of the most powerful television executives and broadcasting veterans, people like actor and writer Sir Lenny Henry, Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger, ITV boss Kevin Lygo, Channel 4’s Head of Comedy Fiona McDermott and Anne Mensah, Head of Drama at Sky.

The result is a rundown of the 100 hottest TV stars of the past 12 months. See the full list below…

1. Olivia Colman

“Thank you so much, Radio Times, for this – it’s very, very exciting and I can’t quite believe the year ahead.” OLIVIA COLMAN

Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown series 3 (Netflix)

“Olivia is a wonderful actress to watch at work, especially as The Crown’s new Queen. She is such a warm, smart, transformative actor who steps in and out of character in seconds — one minute laughing with the crew, the next totally regal and locked into a complex exchange with the Prime Minister in one of the Queen’s audiences. She is so professional, so winning on and off the set — Olivia is a truly exceptional British talent.” ANDY HARRIES, Chief Executive, Left Bank Pictures

2. Chris Chibnall

Chris Chibnall, Getty

“Chris is a wonderfully talented multi-award-winning writer whose catalogue of work speaks for itself. I can’t wait to see his passion and vision for Doctor Who come to life on BBC1 this autumn. As a lifelong fan himself, I know he will bring something very special to the hit series to captivate old and new fans across the globe.” CHARLOTTE MOORE, Director, BBC Content

3. Daisy May Cooper and Charlie Cooper

Daisy May and Charlie Cooper, Getty

“A very sharp rise for this brother and sister team with three BAFTAs and three RTS awards at first crack. Mining their roots to create, write and perform such a vivid and layered character world shot through with heart and hilarity, the confidence of tone in portraying this world of disenfranchised youth has connected deeply and speaks to diversity in its truest sense.” SHANE ALLEN, Controller, BBC Comedy

4. Declan Donnelly

Declan Donnelly, Getty, SL

“It’s been a difficult period for the best-known partnership in British TV, with Ant McPartlin’s personal troubles commanding the headlines and separating the on-screen pair for the first time in 30 years. However, the way with which Dec continued alone at short notice to brilliantly present the remaining episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway and then the live finals of Britain’s Got Talent were some of the most talked-about television moments of the year.” TIM GLANFIELD, Editor,

5. Idris Elba

Idris Elba, Getty

“Our American chums describe him as ‘360 degree talent’. He’s a weapons-grade actor, has a fine producer’s mind, and on the evidence of his debut feature Yardie, is going to be one of the most interesting directors of his generation. His production company Green Door Pictures is a passionate advocate of diversity, too. And he just doesn’t talk about it, he actually gets on and does it. He also manages to be a world-class DJ. And finally, he’s a really nice and decent bloke. Viva ’Dris!” KENTON ALLEN, Chief Executive, Big Talk

6. David Attenborough

Programme Name: Blue Planet II - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Sir David Attenborough - (C) - - Photographer: -

”For over 60 years Sir David has been inspiring millions around the world with his pioneering work, giving us unrivalled access to the natural world. He’s a masterful storyteller and a champion of new technology; he’s brought critical conservation stories to the world’s attention and, perhaps most importantly, he’s inspired the next generation to care about our planet.” CHARLOTTE MOORE, Director, BBC Content

7. Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant plays Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scandal

“‘Who knew he was such a good actor?’ went the cry as Grant, king of the paper-thin romcom, romped to triumph as real-life disgraced politician Jeremy Thorpe in Russell T Davies’s tremendous rollicking drama. Most of us, actually. Certainly anyone who had seen him in Maurice, and Notting Hill, and Paddington 2. Let’s hope he returns to television soon.” ALISON GRAHAM, Radio Times TV Editor

8. Vanessa Kirby

Vanessa Kirby, Getty

“The Crown may belong to the Queen but it was Vanessa who picked up the biggest prize at the Baftas: a best supporting actress gong for her portrayal of Princess Margaret in the Netflix series. Her standout performance has cemented her status as television royalty for years to come.” SUSANNA LAZARUS Associate Editor,

9. Benedict Cumberbatch

Patrick Melrose

“Benedict is one of the best known film faces on the planet but he also had an exceptional year on television. He was brilliant in the BBC’s The Child in Time and his portrayal of Patrick Melrose on Sky was a lauded career highlight. Even more impressive when you consider he plays the same character over four decades.” ZAI BENNETT, Director of Programmes, Sky

10. Nicola Walker

Nicola Walker in Unforgotten

“As soon as I first worked with Nicola, 12 years ago, on Torn, I knew I would want to work with her again. She understands the rhythms of my scripts better than anyone I’ve ever worked with, and brings an honesty to every part she plays that is unparalleled. She’s a lovely person, too, which helps — and very funny!” CHRIS LANG, Writer, Unforgotten

11. Lisa McGee

Lisa McGee, Radio Times (via Rachel Young)

“Lisa’s the real deal — a writer with a heartfelt need to tell stories people want to watch. No one but Lisa could have written Derry Girls. The fact that it resonated with such a huge swathe of the population, young and old, really helped this comedy stand out from the pack this year.” FIONA MCDERMOTT, Head of Comedy, C4

12. Gareth Southgate

VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 18: Gareth Southgate, Manager of England celebrates victory following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Tunisia and England at Volgograd Arena on June 18, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images) TL

“To lead the third youngest England team to the World Cup semi-finals and defy expectations is a great achievement, but to do it with so much class and grace must be applauded. I hope Gareth is the manager for many years to come because with him the future is bright.” ENI ALUKO, Footballer, pundit

13. Carrie Gracie

Carrie Gracie, Getty

“Carrie’s principled stand on equal pay has made her a heroine to many of us. It’s easy to be angry or upset in private — it takes real guts to go public and face down your critics. Carrie got back pay and an apology from the BBC. More importantly, she’s been a huge part of putting equal pay back in the headlines decades after most of us assumed the battle had been won.” JANE GARVEY, Presenter, Woman’s Hour

14. Richard Cowles

Richard Cowles, Radio Times (via Rachel Young)

“Richard is an executive producer par excellence, Love Island for ITV2 being the latest TV format to have benefited from his expertise. With Richard at the helm, the series has grown to deliver record audiences for the channel, dispelling the notion that younger viewers were lost to linear TV for ever.” PAUL MORTIMER, Head of Digital Channels and Acquisitions, ITV

15. Jodie Whittaker

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)

“It’s a testament to the energy and focus that Jodie has brought to Doctor Who that it’s hard to distinguish where one ends and the other begins. She said from the start that she could only do it her way and so it has become. Gone is the daffiness and idiosyncrasy of her predecessors in favour of a Doctor with energy, spark and relatability.” PIERS WENGER, Controller, BBC Drama

16. Laura Kuenssberg

Laura Kuenssberg

“She is a superb political editor. Through a tumultuous year in Westminster and beyond, she’s expertly and tirelessly explained the twists and turns of UK politics to her audience, breaking lots of stories along the way.” FRAN UNSWORTH, Director, BBC News and Current Affairs

17. Romesh Ranganathan

Romesh Ranganthan, Getty

“Romesh has always been a funny man but he’s fast becoming one of the UK’s most accomplished, generous-hearted and versatile entertainers. In the Misadventures… travel series he is able to move between the major issues facing developing economies and genuine humour that comes naturally as he bonds with the collaborators he meets along the way.” PATRICK HOLLAND, Controller, BBC2

18. Gary Lineker


“We’re delighted to have Gary hosting our football coverage and he’s had an exceptional year! Fronting Match of the Day and the FA Cup with his usual panache, this summer he also brought his charismatic style and unique authority to a wonderful World Cup. Classy, professional and stoically patriotic, he really does lead from the front.” BARBARA SLATER, Director, BBC Sport

19. Piers Morgan

Piers Morgan, ITV Pictures

“Piers is certainly Marmite: people either love him or loathe him. Fortunately, everyone wants to know what he’s saying. He’s a dog with a bone when he senses a good story, and keeps pushing until he gets an answer. Good Morning Britain now not only reports the news, but makes it. He made news around the world by getting the only UK-broadcast interview with President Trump, twice. He’s certainly livening up breakfast.” CHARLOTTE HAWKINS, Presenter, Good Morning Britain

20. Lennie James

Lennie James, Save Me (Sky, EH)

“It is hard to articulate the breadth of Lennie’s talent. The truthful, compelling, funny, tragic intensity of Save Me comes from both the unique tone of his writing and his standout central performance as Nelson. I cannot imagine anyone else achieving this ferocious double act. It has been an absolute honour to work with him. And he can kill zombies.” ANNE MENSAH, Head of Drama, Sky

21. Peter Kay

22. Sacha Baron Cohen

23. Kate Oates

24. Diane Morgan

25. Eni Aluko

  • SPOTLIGHT ON: Eni Aluko

Eni Aluko

Eni Aluko has been playing football professionally since 2002, scored over 100 caps for England, has a first-class law degree and became Match of the Day’s first female football pundit in 2014. Hardly an underachiever. But 2018 saw her beamed into the homes of millions of television viewers when ITV enlisted her to work across their World Cup coverage. Her articulate, incisive commentary won the praise of many – including her co-pundit Patrice Evra who found himself in hot water when he applauded her analysis and exclaimed: “She knows more than us!” Aluko rose above it – it’s not her gender but her insight that scores points with audiences back home.

26. Heidi Thomas

27. Rio Ferdinand

28. Damien Timmer

29. Danny Dyer

30. Eve Myles

31. The cast of Queer Eye

32. Jane McDonald

  • SPOTLIGHT ON: Jane McDonald

Jane McDonald, Picselect

2018 was the year “Jane McDonald” became “Bafta-winning Jane McDonald”. Her eponymous series, Cruising with Jane McDonald, not only tasked her with the plum job of touring luxury cruise liners, but also landed her some enviable silverware when she beat BBC1 stalwart Antique’s Roadshow to the Bafta for Best Feature – Channel 5’s first ever. “Oh, flipping heck!” she exclaimed on stage to the Bafta audience. “Mum, look what I’m bringing home!” Far from faltering, Jane’s career is cruising to new heights.

33. Claire Foy

34. David Olusoga

35. Peter Capaldi

36. Damian Kavanagh

37. Neil Gaiman

38. Keeley Hawes

39. Charlie Brooker

40. Sandi Toksvig

41. Mackenzie Crook

42. Michaela Coel

43. Molly Windsor

44. Charlie Covell

  • SPOTLIGHT ON: Charlie Covell

Charlie Covell, Getty

The End of the F***ing World wasn’t just memorable for its name. Channel 4’s dark comedy won a dedicated cohort of fans when it landed on All4 last autumn, charting the twisted romance between 17-year-old James (Alex Lawther), who thinks he’s a psychopath, and his rebellious classmate Alyssa (Jessica Barden). Its writer Charlie Covell was once best known for acting work and her indie flick Burn Burn Burn but in 2018 has been named a Bafta Breakthrough Brit and seen her acclaimed series hit Netflix and find a worldwide audience of fans who are clamouring for more. “It was astounding how popular it was for us,” said Netflix boss Ted Sarandos whose streaming service has rewarded Covell with a ten-episode order for her new series Kaos.

45. Tom Ellis

46. Suranne Jones

47. Bradley Walsh

48. Sam Heughan

49. Russell T Davies

50. Zoe Ball

51. Lucy Fallon

52. Harry and Jack Williams

53. Donald Glover

54. Sharon Horgan

55. Katherine Ryan

56. Eleanor Tomlinson

57. Mark Gatiss

58. Chris Lang

  • SPOTLIGHT ON: Chris Lang

Chris Lang dramas, ITV Pictures

Chris Lang has quietly become one of Britain’s most prolific television writers. A doyen of the slow-building murder mystery, his series Innocent (starring Lee Ingleby) and Unforgotten (with Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar) have crept into British living rooms and hooked in millions of viewers. The latter has just aired its series three finale, earning widespread praise, but Lang isn’t done yet – Dark Heart, a drama which piloted on ITV Encore in 2016, gets a full series starring Tom Riley this autumn.

59. James Honeyborne

60. Jeremy Clarkson

61. Kirsty Young

62. Jed Mercurio

63. Guz Khan

64. Jack P Shepherd

65. Aysha Rafaele

66. Anita Rani

67. Rachel Parris

  • SPOTLIGHT ON: Rachel Parris

America may have honed satirical news shows to an art form, but over here in the UK they’re a rarer species. With the exception of The Last Leg, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You, there’s plenty of room for vibrant new comedians to dissect the week’s events. Enter The Mash Report with Nish Kumar at its helm. He’s a class act but this latest series hit a high note thanks to his co-star Rachel Parris whose sketch ‘How NOT to sexually harass someone’ was viewed millions of times online, with a further dissection of Piers Morgan’s interview with Donald Trump drawing the ire of the presenter himself.

68. Connor McIntyre

69. Nadiya Hussein

70. Chris Packham

71. Iain Macleod

72. Stephen Mulhern

73. Mary Beard

74. Big Narstie

75. Tom Rob Smith

76. Rob Beckett

  • SPOTLIGHT ON: Rob Beckett

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Rob Beckett performs on stage at Absolute Radio Live in aid of Stand Up To Cancer at London Palladium on November 26, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images) Getty, TL

Comedian Rob Beckett has been earning his stripes as a presenter for a few years now, with stints on 8 Out of 10 Cats and I’m a Celebrity’s sister show Get Me Out of Here NOW! But 2018 saw him break into the mainstream with not one but two primetime BBC1 vehicles: All Together Now and Wedding Day Winners. The former will return for a second series next year, reuniting the comedian with ex-Spice Girl Geri Horner, with Beckett’s amiable professionalism firming up his place on entertainment commissioners’ speed dials.

77. Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith

78. Ben Anthony

79. Anna Friel

80. Millie Bobby Brown

81. Debbie Horsfield

82. Olivia Cooke

83. Sheku Kanneh-Mason

  • SPOTLIGHT ON: Sheku Kanneh-Mason

UNSPECIFIED, UNDATED - APRIL 24: (NO SALES) In this undated handout supplied by Kensington Palace, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who will be performing at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle poses for a photograph. The couple will marry in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19. (Photo by Lars Borges/Kensington Palace via Getty Images)

Sheku Kanneh-Mason has been on the radar of classical music fans since winning the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition in 2016. But fast-forward to May of this year and he was playing his cello in front of an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Markle personally reached out to the 19-year-old, requesting he perform during the signing of the register in front of a celebrity audience including George Clooney, David Beckham and Serena Williams. Stages don’t come much bigger than that.

84. Stefan Golaszewski

85. Ian Katz

86. Joe Cole

87. Sarah Lancashire

88. Anne Mensah

89. Amy Sherman-Palladino

90. Ken Burns

91. Alex Horne

92. Iain Stirling

93. Samson Kayo

  • SPOTLIGHT ON: Samson Kayo

Samson Kayo, Getty

Fans of The Javone Prince Show and Murder in Successville might recognise Samson Kayo, but the actor truly grabbed the attention of the industry this year with acclaimed turns in BBC3 sketch show Famalam and ITV2’s Timewasters. His Famalam performance earned him a Bafta nomination for Best Male Comedy Performance alongside Rob Brydon, Asim Chaudry and eventual winner Toby Jones, while Timewasters scored a Best Scripted Comedy nod and a second series from ITV2. Expect plenty more from Samson in the near future.

94. Jodie Comer

95. Dean Jones

96. Noel Clarke

97. Sarah Phelps

98. Daniel Lawrence Taylor

99. Emma Atkins

100. Hannah Gadsby

  • SPOTLIGHT ON: Hannah Gadsby

Hannah Gadsby, Netflix PR

Hannah Gadsby found fame by announcing she was giving up comedy. The Australian comedian show Nanette – in which she explains her decision to walk away from her profession – has been met with glowing reviews and a Netflix recording of her Sydney Opera House performance lit up social media, earning her a global following and widespread acclaim. Suffice to say, she’s walked back on her comedic retirement.