If I wrote an article every time David Cameron said something I didn’t agree with, I’d be a much busier man then I currently am. However, this article isn’t even vaguely political. In fact, if pushed, I’d say it was much more geographically charged. You see, for some reason unbeknownst to me, Cameron felt the need to label one William Hague the “greatest living Yorkshireman”, which in reality, is only one step removed in the absurdity stakes from giving the accolade to Peter Sutcliffe.
Here is a list of people much more deserving of that title, who the people of the greatest county in the land and God’s Own Country can be thoroughly proud of. This is for you, David Cameron, and whichever one of your overpaid press advisors suggested that you attempt a Yorkshire accent. I mean seriously, you’re just giving the campaign for an Independent Yorkshire fuel for the fire now.
Reluctantly, he’s half-assumed the position of the voice of an entire generation through the success he’s had in the Arctic Monkeys, and his public passion for the place of his birth doesn’t hurt his appeal, either. He may live in America now, but his Sheffield accent hasn’t suffered, he recently wore a bespoke jacket on stage at Leeds festival with two large white roses on the front and has the same flower tattoo’d on his arm. People from outside of Yorkshire may consistently attempt to sing along to his songs by adopting the accent, but our Alex will always know where home is.
The gentleman of BritPop once rushed the stage at The Brits in protest of Michael Jackson pretending he was a Christ-like figure during his performance, wildly slapping his arse as he went. Eloquent, intelligent and gloriously funny, Cocker has become a national treasure and well respected broadcaster. David Cameron listens to Common People and doesn’t understand what’s being said.
Whenever you hear somebody call James Milner “boring”, remind yourself that what they really mean is ‘professional’. As a top flight footballer, and a criminally underrated one at that, he’s remained incredibly humble, private, polite and generous. Given the last few England captains have hardly been the most standup individuals possible, that goes someway to explaining why Milner is so often derided. In truth, he gives a lot to charity through his foundation, pays for development in the place he grew up out of his own pocket and doesn’t make a peep about doing any of it. You know why? He’s a good human being, and one of worryingly few remaining in football. James Milner isn’t boring, he’s an example to the rest of them.
Nicola Adams MBE
Remember that Olympics we had in London in 2012? If it were independent, Yorkshire would have finished the games 12th in the medal table, with seven golds, two silvers and three bronze in the bag. One of the most significant of those golds, however, was that of Leeds born Nicola Adams, who smiled, charmed, and most of all punched her way through the female boxing competition, and became a star in her own right. She’s become a role model for young girls to breakaway from typical gender roles across the country, and as an open bisexual, has also championed various LGBT rights along the way.
You know when Sean Bean acts in anything where he’s not actually supposed to be from Yorkshire, all he does is tone down his accent, rather than putting on another one. Despite that, he’s somehow become a Hollywood A Lister, appearing in massive productions such as Game Of Thrones, Lord Of The Rings and GoldenEye. He successfully transitioned from being an apprentice welder to a RADA trained actor, and nobody blinked an eye. If there’s an advert for making a success of yourself without forgetting where you’ve come from, it’s Sean Bean, no matter how many times he dies in the things he makes.
Dame Judi Dench
It’s usually a defining moment in an actor’s career when they’re nominated for one Academy Award, never mind the seven that Dame Judi Dench has been up for. One of not only Yorkshire’s finest, but Britain’s too, she’s been nominated for 213 individual awards across her remarkable career, winning 65 of them. She was the one strong female character for seventeen years in the James Bond franchise, making the role of ‘M’ her own, and will be an incredibly hard act to follow. Only of only five women to be given a Damehood in 1988, she’s so fancy, the royals already know.
Sadly, because his management career was tainted by some odd behaviour both at club and international level, Keegan has become a figure of fun in his later years. Ignoring that time in a lay by with a baseball bat, it’s easy enough to forget just how good of a footballer Keegan really was. He won the Ballon d’Or in consecutive years in 1978-79, winning major titles at both Liverpool and Hamburg, and was arguably the first british footballer to become a well-known celebrity through media attention in the modern era.
Prolific across such mediums as television, film, stage, print and audio, you name it, Alan Bennett has done it. One of his most well known works, The History Boys, is based on his experiences at Lawnswood School in Leeds, where he now has a library named in his honour. His private life is famously guarded, and when once asked by Sir Ian McKellen at an Aids benefit if he was gay or not, Bennett replied “That's a bit like asking a man crawling across the Sahara whether he would prefer Perrier or Malvern water”.
Jason Robinson OBE
Like most of the best players to represent England in Rugby Union, lightening fast winger Jason Robinson began his career playing the proper code of the game, Rugby League, where he learnt his trade. In 2005, he became both the first dual-heritage and former Rugby League player to captain England, and the 118th overall. A couple of years earlier, Robinson scored England’s only try in the 2003 World Cup final, which helped them on their way to winning the cup. On behalf of League - you’re welcome, Rugby Union.
Normally when people from Bradford do puzzling things with their hands in public, people call the police, but when Dynamo shows up, crowds flock to see him perform. Magician, illusionist, child of the devil, whatever you want to call him, Dynamo is somewhat impressive to say the least, and his talents have propelled him to a level of stardom that he must never have imagined of growing up on a Bradford estate. Unapologetic about where he comes from, he often takes his television programme around his hometown, and wears his Bradford City shirt to be filmed in. You can keep David Blaine starving himself in a box having shit lobbed at him for weeks on end, we’ve got this lad now, and he’s from Yorkshire.
Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE
‘The face’ of the London olympics in 2012 back when she was just plain old Jessica Ennis, who knew one woman being *really good* at loads of different sports could unite the nation so easily? Resisting calls from Team GB to relocated to London to train more frequently there, she chose to stay in her hometown of Sheffield to prepare for the games, making her home inside the now sadly demolished Don Valley stadium. She walked her gold medal under incredible pressure from an expectant media and passionate home crowd, and has since become a media darling and women’s sporting icon alongside the likes of the aforementioned Nicola Adams. Such a hero is she in her beloved Sheffield that her chosen club, United, named a stand after her at Bramall Lane.
Technically two people rather than one, Rotherham double-act and actual brothers Barry and Paul are more of a package deal, aren’t they? ChuckleVision was a slapstick giant on children’s television for over a decade, and the brother’s have since expanded their comedy empire on to Twitter, where their selfie game is incredibly strong, the standout obviously the one they did outside Southwark Crown Court where Dave Lee Travis was being tried over sexual assault charges. Currently ‘in the studio working with Tinchy Stryder’ doing what Paul Chuckle describes as “laying down some cool stuff”, I’m fairly sure this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing of them.