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TV: We look at some of this week's top telly faces

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 30, 2014

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An insight into some of this week's top telly faces.

Saturday, February 01

Name: Bob Hoskins

Best Known for: The Long Good Friday.

Early Life: Born Robert William Hoskins Jr in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, on October 26, 1942, but grew up in Finsbury Park, London. He left school at 15 following a happy, but rebellious childhood and supported himself via a series of odd jobs, including window cleaner, truck driver, steeplejack and even circus performer. Despite never taking a single drama lesson, he landed his first acting role in 1968 after being invited to take part in an audition at a pub.

Career: Small parts in TV productions and films during the early 1970s led to him landing his breakthrough role in Dennis Potter's 1978 mini-series Pennies from Heaven. Violent thriller The Long Good Friday followed in 1980, cementing his stardom. Other offerings, including The Cotton Club, Brazil, Mona Lisa and A Prayer for the Dying followed, but he found global fame in 1988's effects-laden Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Subsequent Hollywood movies included Mermaids and Hook, but he also worked in the UK on A Christmas Carol, Made in Dagenham, TwentyFourSeven, Last Orders and The Street. His final film, Snow White and the Huntsman, was released in 2012 - Hoskins then announced he was retiring due to being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

Trivia: Hoskins was married to Jane Livesey, the mother of his eldest two children, for 11 years, but they divorced in 1978. He wed teacher Linda Banwell in 1982, and they also have two children.

Quote: "I came into this business uneducated, dyslexic, 5ft 6in, cubic, with a face like a squashed cabbage and they welcomed me with open arms."

Tonight: Made in Dagenham, BBC Two, 9.15pm.

Sunday, February 02

Name: Gene Wilder

Best Known for: His comedy partnership with Richard Pryor.

Early Life: Born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father was a Russian immigrant who imported and manufactured novelties and souvenirs. His mother was of Polish descent and had a heart attack when Wilder was six, leaving her an invalid. He used to amuse her by doing comedy routines. Wilder was later inspired to act by his older sister after watching her on stage. He studied acting at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and later at the New York Actors Studio.

Career: Wilder made his professional debut in 1961 in an off-Broadway production of Roots, and continued to work to great acclaim on stage until 1966 when he appeared on TV in Death of a Salesman. A year later he made his first film, Bonnie and Clyde.

In 1968 The Producers made him a star, and cemented his working relationship with writer-director Mel Brooks. Other major hits include the 1971 adaptation of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and his four films with Richard Pryor, including Stir Crazy. He also wrote, directed and starred in The Woman in Red and Haunted Honeymoon.

He's now semi-retired from acting, but he published an autobiography in 2005, and he followed up his first novel, My French Whore, in 2007, with The Woman Who Wouldn't in 2008 and What Is This Thing Called Love in 2010.

Trivia: His third wife was Saturday Night Live actress Gilda Radner. They were together for five years until her death from ovarian cancer in 1989. He has been married to speech pathologist Karen Boyer since 1991.

Quote: On how his life would have turned out if he hadn't met Mel Brooks: "I might be a patient in some neuro-psychiatric hospital now, looking through bars as I made wallets."

Tonight: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Five, 4.50pm.

Monday, February 03

Name: Cameron Diaz

Best Known for: There's Something About Mary.

Early Life: Cameron Michelle Diaz was born on August 30, 1972, in San Diego, the daughter of a Cuban-American father and an Anglo-German mother. She has an older sister called Chimene. Cameron began modelling at 16 and for the next five years lived in such varied locations as Japan, Australia, Mexico, Morocco, and Paris. Returning to California at the age of 21, she was still modelling when she auditioned for a part in The Mask. To her amazement and despite having no previous acting experience, she was cast as the female lead opposite Jim Carrey.

Career: Over the next three years, she honed her acting skills in such low-budget independent films as The Last Supper, Feeling Minnesota, and Head Above Water. She returned to mainstream films in My Best Friend's Wedding, in which she held her own against veteran actress Julia Roberts. She earned full-fledged star status in 1998 for her performance in the box office smash There's Something About Mary.

Since then she's had top billing in such smashes as Charlie's Angels, Gangs of New York and Knight and Day, provided the voice of Princess Fiona in the Shrek movies and TV specials and gained critical acclaim for her performance in Being John Malkovich. She reunited with former boyfriend Justin Timberlake on the big screen in 2011 in Bad Teacher and in January 2014 published The Body Book, which offers tips on diet and exercise.

Trivia: Diaz was engaged to actor Jared Leto, had a high-profile relationship with singer Justin Timberlake and, most recently, was dating New York Yankees baseball star Alex Rodriguez.

Quote: "I would kiss a frog even if there were no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs. I'd lick him."

Tonight: There's Something About Mary, Channel 4, 11.35pm.

Tuesday, February 04

Name: James Nesbitt

Best Known for: Playing Adam in Cold Feet.

Early Life: Born January 15, 1965, in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. The son of a primary school headmaster, he grew up in Broughshane, County Antrim. Keen on sport, he excelled at rugby and football, and was also musical, singing in local festivals.

He originally intended to be a teacher, but school productions and amateur dramatics led him into acting. He left the University of Ulster a year into studying for a degree in French to attend the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where fellow students included Stephen Tompkinson and Rufus Sewell.

Career: After working in theatre, Nesbitt made his TV debut in Boon and his first film, Hear My Song, in 1991. He hasn't looked back, appearing in a string of hits on both the big and small screens, including Waking Ned, Jude, Touching Evil, and Playing The Field.

Cold Feet turned him into a major TV star, while acclaimed film Bloody Sunday marked him out as a gifted serious actor. The lead role of a maverick cop in TV drama Murphy's Law was written especially for him.

He's also starred in Quite Ugly One Morning, Match Point and Five Minutes of Heaven. He has also been seen in The Deep, alongside Minnie Driver, ITV medical drama Monroe, and Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit.

Trivia: Split from his wife, Sonia Forbes-Adam, in 2013 after 19 years together. They have two teenage daughters.

Quote: "I'm an extremely fortunate and privileged man who gets constantly challenged in a job that's taken me to extraordinary places and enabled me to meet great teachers in all walks of life."

Tonight: Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, ITV, 8pm.

Wednesday, February 05

Name: June Whitfield

Best Known for: Terry and June, and Absolutely Fabulous.

Early Life: Born June Rosemary Whitfield in Streatham, London, on November 11, 1925. Her mother had hoped to become an actress, but was forbidden to do so by her father. Instead, she appeared in amateur dramatics and encouraged June to enter showbusiness by enrolling her in dance classes at the age of three. Her father was a company director. After the Second World War she moved to Huddersfield with her parents and trained to be a secretary before attending RADA, after which she landed her first professional role on the London stage.

Career: Whitfield became one of BBC Radio's most beloved stars - 22 million people regularly tuned in to her show Take It From Here during the 1950s - but is probably best known for her TV appearances, and has starred alongside Frankie Howerd, Peter Sellers and Tony Hancock. Among her many comedy programmes during the first half of her career were Steptoe and Son, Hancock's Half Hour and The Benny Hill Show.

Her long professional relationship with Terry Scott resulted in such series as Happy Ever After and Terry and June. She has also appeared in several Carry On films. More recently Whitfield won acclaim in Absolutely Fabulous, The Last of the Blonde Bombshells, Jude and Mirrorball. She was awarded an OBE in 1985, and a CBE in 1998.

Trivia: Married Tim Aitchison in 1955, and they stayed together until he died in 2001. The couple had one daughter, Suzy, who is also an actress.

Quote: "I was never a great beauty. I think I amused more than I aroused. But at least that meant I didn't feel the pressures that many glamorous actresses do when they reach a certain age. Playing mums and grans never bothered me."

Tonight: Midsomer Murders, ITV, 8pm.

Thursday, February 06

Name: Steve Pemberton

Best Known for: The League of Gentlemen and Benidorm.

Early Life: Steve James Pemberton was born on September 1, 1967, in Blackburn, Lancashire.

He first realised he wanted to be an actor while still at school, and his first role was playing Peter in The Diary of Anne Frank at the Chorley Little Theatre - although he admits he was the only boy who auditioned. Following his A levels, he gained a Theatre Arts degree from Bretton Hall College in Yorkshire, where he met Reece Shearsmith and Mark Gatiss who, along with Jeremy Dyson, became The League of Gentlemen.

Career: Pemberton began his professional career on stage, but suffered a setback when he had a heart attack at the age of 25 while working in Germany. He went on to feature in Ken Russell's Alice in RussiaLand in 1995, but it was The League of Gentleman that was his first major success, first on radio, then on TV and film. He also appeared in the remake of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Gormenghast, Shameless, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers and Blackpool.

The latter co-starred David Tennant, and the duo were reunited in 2008 for a two-part Doctor Who adventure. Other projects include the Woody Allen film Match Point, Lassie, Psychoville, and Benidorm.

Trivia: Married to Alison. They have three children.

Quote: On his favourite League of Gentlemen character: "I miss Pauline from the job centre the most. It was scary when I put on the costume and the wig and the lips. It was like being possessed."

Tonight: Benidorm, ITV, 9pm.

Friday, February 07

Name: Ruby Wax

Best Known for: Her over-the-top presenting style.

Early Life: Born Ruby Wachs in 1953 in Illinois. Her Jewish parents had fled Austria for America in 1939 because of the Nazi threat.

She endured a difficult childhood thanks to her rigid upbringing and her mother's depression, something Ruby began suffering with from the age of 10. She studied psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, but was distracted by acting. After coming to Britain, she signed up to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Career: Wax's big break came as a dramatic actress at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, where she began a long-standing professional partnership with Alan Rickman, who went on to direct many of her stand-up shows. In 1978, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, but it was the 1985 comedy series Girls on Top which made her a household name.

Wax went on to become a regular presenter on TV, and was renowned for her aggressive interviewing style. Other projects have included the Sky1 series Cirque de Celebrite and Comic Relief Does The Apprentice. Ruby's 2010 stand-up tour, Losing It, was inspired by her battle with depression. Away from showbiz, Wax returned to her psychology roots by completing an MSc in psychotherapy and a course in neuroscience. She occasionally runs management workshops on the subject for business leaders to attend.

Trivia: Married to producer Ed Bye. They have three grown-up children, Max, Madeleine and Marina.

Quote: "There are probably as many depressed plumbers as comedians. I had builders in my house and there was someone with an issue on every floor."

Tonight: Room 101, BBC One, 8.30pm; (SCOTLAND 11.25pm).

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