famous glaswegians

Glasgow has been the birthplace of many of Scotland’s high achievers in a variety of fields. Here is a selection of some you may or may not know.


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Peter Capaldi

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Tony Curran

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Tommy Flanagan

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Lorraine Kelly

Craig Armstrong (Film Composer)

His work with Baz Luhrman on both Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rogue earned him a string of awards.


Stanley Baxter (Comedian)

Starting as a child actor, Baxter soon developed a knack for comedy based around the nuances of the Glaswegian dialect and wrote several books on the subject.


Billy Boyd (Actor)

Launched to fame playing Peregrin “Pippin” Took in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.


Frankie Boyle (Comedian)

The brash Scottish comedian is never short of a sarcastic comment.


Peter Capaldi (Actor)

Achieving his breakout role in Local Hero, Capaldi is best known for his string of swearing as Malcolm Tucker in Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It as well as playing Doctor Who. He is also a director and won an Oscar for his 1995 short film, Frank Capra's It’s a Wonderful Life.


Robert Carlyle (Actor)

Best known for his roles in Trainspotting, as well as the Scottish TV show Hamish MacBeth. He has more recently been seen in Stargate: Universe and Once Upon A Time.


Tony Curran (Actor)

This Celtic fan has worked across a slew of film and TV projects, although is possibly best known for his turn in Andrea Arnold’s Red Road.


Henry Ian Cusick (Actor)

Most famous for playing Desmond Hume in TV show Lost, named after Scottish philosopher David Hume.


Patrick Doyle (Film Composer)

A long time collaborator with filmmaker Kenneth Branagh, he recently composed the scores for blockbuster films Thor and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.


Tommy Flanagan (Actor)

The fictional character he played in Sons of Anarchy, Chibs Telford, is also credited as being from Glasgow.


Bill Forsyth (Film Director)

Scottish auteur who shot cult classics Local Hero and Gregory’s Girl.


Lorraine Kelly (Presenter)

This ever-smiling TV presenter has been brightening up Britain for over thirty years with her positivity and vitality.


Gary Lewis (Actor)

Real name Gary Stevenson, he was befriended by actor-director Peter Mullan while acting in the theatre, which led to him getting roles in My Name Is Joe, and subsequently Billy Elliot and Gangs of New York.


Andrew & Kevin MacDonald (Film Producer / Film Director)

Andrew produced some of Britain’s best films, including Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, while his younger brother is a director of both documentary and feature films, both of which have garnered Oscars.


Kelly MacDonald (Actress)

The Scottish belle came to light opposite Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting and went on to steal the show in Martin Scorsese period TV drama Boardwalk Empire.


John MacKay (Journalist)

MacKay has been the face of STV News for almost two decades and has also written a series of novels based on the Isle of Lewis.


David McCallum (Actor)

Son of a famous musician and actor David McCallum Sr, he is known to one generation as Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., while the more recent generation will recognise him from NCIS as medical examiner Dr Donald “Ducky” Mallard.


Joseph McGrath (Film Director)

Best known for James Bond satire Casino Royale as well as his collaborations with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers.


Bill Paterson

An immediately recognisable actor whose career has spanned an amazing fifty years across screen, stage and radio waves.


Hector and Margaret Turnbull (Producer / Screenwriter)

These Glaswegian siblings made a big impact during the early days of Hollywood, with Margaret writing over fifty films in the first half of the 20th Century.


Elaine C. Smith (Actress)

Best known as the wife of Rab C. Nesbitt in the cult TV comedy, she has worked across a broad range of projects on screen and stage.




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Amy MacDonald

Amy MacDonald

Amy was inspired to aim for a musical career after hearing Glasgow band Travis play at T in the Park, Scotland’s biggest music festival.

Maggie Bell

Hailed as the British Janis Joplin, she was the vocalist in the band Stone the Crows with Alex Harvey’s brother Leslie. Her most famous song is No Mean City, as it was the theme music to Glasgow-based detective drama Taggart, in which she appeared for one episode as a fortune teller.


Originally from Dennistoun, this Scottish singer has a career spanning five decades. She has collaborated with greats like Neil Diamond and won Eurovision in 1969.

Mark Knopfler

Best known as the creative force of Dire Straits, he has also composed music for films, including Bill Forsyth’s Scottish classic, Local Hero.

Eddie Reader

This welder’s daughter has had an enduring solo career since the break-up of the band Fairground Attraction in the late 1980s.

Jimmy Somerville

This Glaswegian gay icon is best known for pop bands Bronski Beat and The Communards.


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Admiral Fallow

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Primal Scream



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Twin Atlantic

Admiral Fallow

This six-piece band blends pop and folk music with thoughtful lyrics.


Belle & Sebastian

Critically adored band named after the French children’s book and TV show.



Short-lived fight pop band named after Ghostbuster’s actor Dan Aykroyd.


Deacon Blue

Named after a Steely Dan song, this band have been going for over two decades.


Del Amitri

Alternative rock band best known for their hit, Roll To Me.


Franz Ferdinand

This award-winning band formed in 2002, they achieved instant chart success and their music was often used to promote the Scottish music festival T in the Park.


The Fratellis

Although they go by the surname Fratelli after the criminal family in the cult film The Goonies, this rock trio are not actually brothers.



This indie-rock group take their name from one of Glasgow’s less known monikers.



Named after the cute creatures from the film Gremlins, this band are famous for their long instrumentals and distortion effects within their songs.


Primal Scream

Fronted by Bobby Gillespie, the band were mentored by Gillespie’s school friend Alan McGee and launched through his label, Creation Records.


Sensational Alex Harvey Band

Cult progressive rock band led by the enigmatic Alex Harvey.


Simple Minds

Fronted by Jim Kerr, the band is best known for their hit, Don’t You (Forget About Me), after it featured in John Hughes classic film, The Breakfast Club.



The band enjoyed immense success with their first few albums, but have since moved away from their Brit-pop roots to a more poetic, organic feel.


Twin Atlantic

This alternative rock band bring a Glasgwegian energy to the stage along with catchy tunes. They also collaborated with Scottish craft beer makers Brewdog to create a mango pale ale named after the band.


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Mark Millar

Alasdair Gray (Novelist)

A writer best known for his epic first novel, Lanark, a dystopian fantasy that was written over a period of 30 years.


James Kelman (Novelist)

Writer of novels, short stories, plays and essays, winning the Booker Prize in 1994 with How Late It Was, How Late.


Tom Leonard (Poet)

Famous for his poems in the local dialect, he has, along with Kelman and Gray, he has held the post of Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.


John Lyon (Poet)

A 19th Century Mormon poet and hymn writer who eventually emigrated to Utah.


Peter May (Novelist)

Originally a screenwriter, May turned to writing novels. He is best known for The Lewis Trilogy, first published in his adoptive France.


Mark Millar (Comic Book Writer)

Often injecting Glasgow references into his writing, Millar has worked for the likes of 2000AD, DC Comics and Marvel. He is perhaps best known for his original work Kick-Ass, which was adapted for film in 2010.


Grant Morrison (Comic Book Writer)

Like Mark Millar, he has worked across all publishers but is best known for relaunching and revamping several of DC Comics flagging franchises.


Edwin Morgan (Poet)

The first Glasgow poet to hold the position of Poet Laureate, as well as the title of Scots Makar, the first Scottish National poet.


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Sir Alex Ferguson

Kenny Dalglish

He has played for and managed Celtic, and is currently the most capped Scottish national player with 102 appearances for his country.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex enjoyed a successful managerial career at Aberdeen before briefly taking up the national post until Manchester United offered him the managerial post where he has been for a quarter of a century.

Benny Lynch

A flyweight boxer in the first half of the 20th Century, Lynch is considered to be one of the best fighters Scotland has ever produced.

Mac MacArthur

A baseball player in America’s Major League, he is one of only nine major league players in history to be a Scottish native.

Ally McCoist

A member of the Scottish Football Hall of Fame, McCoist has enjoyed a successful career with Rangers both as a player and manager.

Colin Montgomerie

A professional golfer who won seven consecutive European Tour Order of Merit titles between 1993 and 1999, and has a golfing academy located in Turnberry.


Jock Stein

Football player and later manager of Scotland and Celtic, with whom he became the first British manager to win the European Cup in 1967.


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Citizen Firefighter

by Andy Scott

​Steven Campbell

Initially an engineer, Campbell later attended the Glasgow School of Art, finding a love of painting that won him the Bram Stoker gold medal after his graduation.

Hannah Frank

A sculptor and artist who lived for 100 years from her birth in 1908, almost all of it spent in Glasgow, where she is now buried in Cathcart Cemetery.

Sheila Mullen

Not to be confused with the Playboy model of the same name, Mullen is a painter and another graduate of the prestigious School of Art. Some of her paintings are collected in a book, entitled The Bairns o Adam by Anne Matheson.


Edward Rainey

A tetraplegic painter, Rainey was a soldier in the British Army until a diving accident left him paralysed from the neck down. He holds his brush in his mouth to paint and was fortunate enough to meet Princess Diana when she attended one of his exhibitions.


Andy Scott

A sculptor specialising in cast bronze public figures, his work can be seen all over Scotland and as far away as Australia.


William Simpson

A 19th Century war painter, best known for his scenes from the Crimean War, which can be found in his book, The Seat of the War in the East.


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Charles Rennie Mackintosh

John Campbell

Born in Glasgow, Campbell is most famous for his architecture in New Zealand, giving the city of Dunedin a very Scottish feel.


David Hamilton

Known as the father of the architecture profession, he designed the Nelson’s Monument which now stands in Glasgow Green, as well as the Royal Exchange, now Glasgow’s Museum of Modern Art


Archibald Leitch

Leitch became the leading figure in designing football stadiums, and as well as Ibrox, Hampden and Celtic Park in Glasgow, he designed many of the stadiums for English teams, including Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium and Goodison Park, Old Trafford in Manchester, and White Hart Lane in London.


Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Glasgow’s most famous architect, renowned for the likes of the Glasgow School of Art and Scotland Street School, he has a contemporary in Frank Lloyd Wright.


Alexander “Greek” Thomson

Lesser known but more productive than Mackintosh, Thomson gets his nickname not from having visited Greece (which he never did), but for his use of Ionic Greek style towards the end of the Greek Revival period in Britain.


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James Watt

Charles Macintosh

Not to be confused with the similarly named architect, Macintosh was a chemist and invented waterproof fabrics. Despite the wrong spelling, the Mackintosh raincoat is named after him.


James Beaumont Neilson

An inventor and engineer who is credited with increasing the fuel efficiency of a blast furnace by feeding it hot air instead of cold.


Sir William Ramsey

An archaeologist who rose up to be the foremost authority on the history of the area known as Asia Minor.


James Watt

A mechanical engineer, whose improvements to the design of the steam engine were crucial to the Industrial Revolution. The unit of energy, the watt, is named after him.


James Young

A Scottish chemist most famous for his methods of distilling oil and paraffin wax from coal, he became a long time friend of explorer David Livingstone.


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Duncan Bannatyne

Duncan Bannatyne

An entrepreneur specialising in the hotel industry, Bannatyne became a British household name when he took part in the TV series Dragon’s Den.


Sir William Burrell

A successful shipping merchant, whose lasting legacy was sealed when he donated his entire artwork collection to Glasgow City. It is now housed in the Burrell Collection.


James McGill

A graduate of the University of Glasgow, McGill emigrated to Canada, working in the fur trade and eventually founding McGill University in Montreal.


Michelle Mone

A former model, this female entrepreneur set out to redesign the most female of garments, the brassiere, eventually patenting the Ultimo Bra.


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Scrooge McDuck

Scrooge McDuck

The maternal uncle of Donald Duck, Scrooge, named after the Charles Dickens character, is a charitable yet thrifty philanthropist and adventurer.


Rab C. Nesbitt

An unemployed alcoholic, Nesbitt (played by Gregor Fisher and created by Ian Pattison) inhabited all the stereotypes Glaswegians have to suffer and made them his own.


DCI Jim Taggart

The original grouchy, cynical detective (played by Mark McManus), the character’s catchphrase, “There’s been a murder,” haunts Scottish people to this day.