The TV industry went above and beyond to keep us glued to the screen last year, in what turned out to be another challenging 12 months. From jaw-dropping drama to show-stopping entertainment and a summer of sport we’ll never forget, we at want to celebrate the efforts of those behind the biggest television events of 2021.


So, once again we have teamed up with industry experts and executives – including directors of content from Sky, the BBC and beyond – to pull together a list of the top 100 figures who in the last year have changed the entertainment landscape for the better.

Previous winners have gone on to achieve phenomenal success. Following in the footsteps of 2018 and 2019 list-toppers Olivia Colman and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Michaela Coel was crowned our number one for 2020 – and has gone on to become one of the most in-demand writers and actors in the country following her triumphant series I May Destroy You.

Read on to find out the winner of the TV 100, and who else made the full list.

1. Russell T Davies

Russell T Davies (GETTY)

“Russell is a powerhouse of ideas, talent and practical know-how, as well as an extraordinarily good writer. He is always one step ahead of trends and navigates changes to the TV marketplace seamlessly. He is the full package. And a joy to work with!" - NICOLA SHINDLER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AT QUAY STREET PRODUCTIONS

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2. Olly Alexander

Olly Alexander (GETTY)

"It’s A Sin was one of those rare dramas which had a huge impact beyond the screen. Olly’s moving performance as Ritchie was central to the show’s impact, vividly bringing to life the realities of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s on the gay community. He very much deserves his place in the top 10." ZAI BENNETT, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CONTENT AT SKY

3. Rose Ayling-Ellis

Rose Ayling Ellis (GETTY)

"Rose catapulted on to TV screens in 2020 as Frankie in EastEnders and left Mick Carter stunned when she dropped the bombshell that she was his daughter. The first deaf actress to use sign language in the soap, she then went on to capture the public’s imagination by winning Strictly Come Dancing in 2021 and becoming the show’s first ever deaf contestant. Rose has defied stereotypes to prove that hearing impairments need not be a barrier. That electrifying moment in the middle of primetime TV when she covered Giovanni’s ears and danced without sound, for 10 seconds, 10 million people experienced the world through Rose’s eyes and ears. It was mesmerising and an extraordinary tribute to the deaf community. She’s back filming in Walford and I’m looking forward to her return soon." CHARLOTTE MOORE, BBC DIRECTOR OF CONTENT

4. Hwang Dong-hyuk

Hwang Dong-hyuk (GETTY)

"Squid Game seemed to appear out of nowhere, and quickly became Netflix’s most-watched TV series ever. We were all glued to our screens as we binged the entire, ground-breaking series. But Hwang had been working on the series for 10 years before it came into fruition. His persistence and amazing directorial vision shows us that if you have a good idea, it will get made." SUKI BERGG, SCRIPTED DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, BBC STUDIOS

5. Jesse Armstrong

Jesse Armstrong (GETTY)

“Jesse Armstrong’s terrible and terrifying creation of the Roy family in Succession makes for compulsive viewing. Three seasons in and the calibre of the writing, led by Armstrong is as high as ever, with an array of wonderfully monstrous characters and razor sharp dialogue.” - DAME PIPPA HARRIS, FOUNDER OF NEAL STREET PRODUCTIONS

6. Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet (GETTY)

"Huge congratulations to Kate Winslet for making the top 10. Her performance as the complicated Mare of Easttown kept us all gripped, in what was one of the best US shows of the year, and reminded us what a brilliant and versatile actress she is." ZAI BENNETT, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CONTENT AT SKY

7. Lydia West

Lydia West (GETTY)

The breakout star of It’s A Sin brought the warm, generous and supremely kind Jill Baxter to life, and we all immediately fell in love with her. It’s no surprise that she’s now been cast in some hugely exciting projects from the likes of BBC, Netflix and Apple TV+.” SUKI BERGG, SCRIPTED DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, BBC STUDIOS

8. Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu (GETTY)

Emma Raducanu produced one of sport’s greatest ever fairy tales when she won the US Open as a teenage qualifier last September, with much of the nation watching her. Her raw tennis ability combined with her incredible composure and comfort on the big stage is a unique and heady concoction in someone so young and with so little experience. I’m certain she has more success ahead of her but she has time on her side, and we must afford her that, as life in the tennis and celebrity spotlight will be a huge adjustment for someone who was sitting her A Levels just eight months ago.” CATHERINE WHITAKER, AMAZON PRIME VIDEO TENNIS PRESENTER, AND CO-HOST OF THE TENNIS PODCAST

"In terms of British sporting fairytales, it's hard to remember a more unexpected or tangible success story than Emma Raducanu's journey at the US Open last year. The teenager started the year as world No.345 before rising to No.150 prior to the tournament. She swept aside three opponents in qualifying and won a further seven matches in the tournament itself to become the first British women's singles Grand Slam champion since Virginia Wade in 1977. Raducanu is the first ever singles qualifier to win that same Grand Slam across any of the majors in the history of the Open Era and the final cherry on the cake is that this was only her second appearance in the main draw of a Slam, having featured at Wimbledon weeks earlier." MICHAEL POTTS, RADIOTIMES.COM SPORTS EDITOR

9. Stephen Graham

Stephen Graham (GETTY)

“It's been an extraordinary year for Stephen Graham, showcasing his range and skill as an actor. From his heartbreaking, nuanced performance as Tony in Jack Thorne’s Help, to his BAFTA nominated, blistering, tour de force as the chef in Boiling Point, he hasn’t put a foot wrong.” - DAME PIPPA HARRIS, FOUNDER OF NEAL STREET PRODUCTIONS

10. The Men's England Euros team

England Euro 2020 (GETTY)

“The 2018 World Cup felt like an awakening for the England men's national team, but Euro 2020 felt like a true arrival onto the world stage. A fresh crop of highly talented hot prospects were added to an already vibrant squad for the delayed 2020 tournament, which took place last summer, and boosted England all the way to their first major tournament final since 1966. Raheem Sterling was England's brightest light and Harry Kane found his footing in the tournament after a muted start, but the cries of 'it's coming home' intensified. England's 2-0 victory over Germany in the Round of 16 was the highlight as the Three Lions made light work of an elite nation in a critical game in front of 90,000 at Wembley. Of course, England went on to lose the final following a dramatic penalty shoot-out against Italy, but they inspired a nation, gave us a superb summer and, with their best years in front of them, football has never seemed closer to home.” MICHAEL POTTS, RADIOTIMES.COM SPORTS EDITOR

SPOTLIGHT ON... 11. Suranne Jones

Suranne Jones (GETTY)

"It’s an absolute privilege to watch Suranne Jones on the small screen. Jones captured audiences with her gripping portrayal in two very different performances, in two very different dramas – DCI Amy Silva in Vigil and Victoria in I Am Victoria, reinforcing her status as one of the country’s most-loved actors. And, I can't wait to see her light up our screens again as she reprises her role as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack season 2 – not only as an actor but producer too. A big fan." MARINA STORTI, MANAGING DIRECTOR AT NOW

12. Jed Mercurio

Jed Mercurio (GETTY)

13. Jodie Comer

Jodie Comer (GETTY)

14. Tom Edge

Tom Edge (GETTY)

15. Lee Jung-jae

Lee Jung-jae (GETTY)

16. Sean Bean

Sean Bean (GETTY)

17. Callum Scott Howells

Callum Scott Howells (GETTY)

18. Elizabeth Olsen

Elizabeth Olsen (GETTY)

19. George Webster

George Webster (BBC)

20. Shalom Brune-Franklin

Shalom Brune-Franklin (GETTY)

SPOTLIGHT ON... 21. Connor Swindells

Connor Swindells (GETTY)

"Look out for Connor Swindells in Kudos Productions SAS Rogue Heroes for BBC One. He plays SAS founder member David Stirling in a performance full of courage, passion, daring and sensitivity. Just one of the brilliant and complex SAS men in Steve Knight’s newest series." PETER SALMON, CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER AT ENDEMOL SHINE

22. Jon Snow

SPOTLIGHT ON... 23. Stephen Merchant

Stephen Merchant (GETTY)

"Stephen is the dictionary definition of a Renaissance man. Writer, director, producer, actor and let's not forget, stand-up comedian and co-creator of The Office, one of the greatest ever sitcoms. His is a rare and special talent, in front of and behind the camera, or as our US chums call it, he’s a '360 degree threat'. He has more than earned his place on this year’s list as writer, creator, director and actor in The Outlaws and for his extraordinary performance as Stephen Port in Four Lives. We are incredibly lucky to have someone with Stephen’s talent making his shows in the UK. And the cherry on the cake? He’s incredibly charming, generous of spirit, hugely supportive of new talent and a joy to work with. Vive Le Merchant!" - KENTON ALLEN, CEO BIG TALK PRODUCTIONS

24. Ncuti Gatwa

25. Daisy Haggard

26. Clive Myrie

27. Vicky McClure

28. O Yeong-su

29. Rakhee Thakrar

30. Kate Garraway

31. Matthew Macfadyen

32. Gugu Mbatha-Raw

33. John Whaite

SPOTLIGHT ON... 34. Jack Thorne

Jack Thorne (GETTY)

"With his powerful MacTaggart speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival where he spoke emotionally about the struggle of the disabled community to find a place within the TV industry, his extraordinary Channel 4 film Help which told how the care homes of England were abandoned in the early days of the pandemic, not to mention his appearance on Desert Island Discs, Jack Thorne has made me cry three times in the last year. Add in the power of his adaptation of His Dark Materials and it’s a profile of a prolific, versatile, warm and very human writer who challenges us in all that he does not just to rouse ourselves but to find our better selves." - KATE HARWOOD, MANAGING DIRECTOR EUSTON FILMS

35. Paul Bettany

36. Alison Hammond

37. Evan Peters

38. Robert Moore

39. AJ Odudu

40. Sophie Willan

41. John Bishop

42. Paige Sandhu

43. Jodie Whittaker

44. Jane Tranter

45. Tom Hiddleston

46. Adil Ray

47. Nida Manzoor

48. Henry Cavill

49. Janette Manrara

50. Harlan Coben

51. Zara McDermott

52. Alex Scott

53. Dua Saleh

54. Bradley Walsh

55. Kadeena Cox

56. Chris Chibnall

57. Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon

58. Anthony Mackie

59. Rose Matafeo

60. Cush Jumbo

61. Ros Atkins

62. Will Poulter

63. Rosario Dawson

64. Shaun Evans

65. Oprah

66. Mo Gilligan

67. Mimi Keene

68. Nicola Walker

69. Sophia Di Martino

70. Bimini Bon Boulash

71. Romesh Ranganathan

72. Munya Chawawa

73. Brian Cox

74. Nadiya Hussain

75. Selena Gomez

76. Jamie Demetriou

77. Mackenzie Crook

78. Cynthia Erivo

79. Sebastian Stan

80. Isabelle Sieb

81. Adam Peaty

82. Samuel Adewunmi

83. Oti Mabuse

84. Brett Goldstein

85. Emily Mortimer

86. Jimmy McGovern

87. Heidi Thomas

88. Olivia Colman

89. Sally Carman

90. Patricia Allison

91. Diane Morgan

92. Peter Jackson

93. Emma Hayes

94. Liberty Poole

95. Martin Compston

96. Jenna Coleman

97. Ant and Dec

98. Natasia Demetriou

99. Anna Maxwell Martin

100. Sandra Oh TV 100 contributors

  • Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content
  • Peter Salmon, Chief Creative Officer, Endemol Shine
  • Damien Timmer, Managing Director, Mammoth Screen
  • Dame Pippa Harris, Founder of Neal Street Productions
  • Marina Storti, Managing Director, NOW
  • Kenton Allen, Chief Executive of Big Talk Productions
  • Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content at Sky
  • Nicola Shindler, television producer and executive, and founder of production company Quay Street Productions
  • Kate Harwood, television producer and Managing Director of Euston Films
  • Mark Linsey, Chief Creative Officer of BBC Studios
  • Suki Bergg, Comedy writer
  • Anne Mensah, VP Content at Netflix
  • Disney+

If you're looking for something to watch tonight, head over to our handy TV Guide.


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