Local Life

5 Famous People of Maidstone

Made in Maidstone

“Fame. I want to live forever. I want to learn how to fly.” Lofty aims, especially the

second one. But Maidstone, a beautiful but humble town, has produced more than

its fair share of stars, spanning a wide range of genres. Putting aside renowned 19th

century critic and essayist William Hazlitt, and with a fervent resolution to exclude

“Barry from Eastenders”, we have decided to focus on more contemporary celebrities.

So be proud Maidstone, of these high achievers, though perhaps of some more than




1. Tony Hart

For my generation – I’m 32 – Tony Hart and his essential art show Hartbeat are as

synonymous with childhood as Transformers and the Super Nintendo. The former

Army officer studied at the Maidstone College of Art (now the Maidstone campus of

the University for the Creative Arts) and broke into television in the 1950s. Finding

his niche in children’s programming, Hart’s ‘partnership’ with animated plasticine

character, Morph, is the stuff of TV legend. Hartbeat, one of several shows Tony

fronted, was broadcast for nine years and its presenter won two Baftas. Hart passed

away, aged 83, in 2009.



2. Mackenzie Crook

Okay so this… let’s go with unique-looking actor is never going to win any beaty

pageants (if indeed male versions exist) but he is a gifted and charismatic performer

who has translated his undeniable talent into major success. Paul (his real given

name), was born in Maidstone and raised in Dartford, though we won’t hold that

against him. After starting off as a sketch writer and comedian, Crook has since

appeared in, among many other projects, two Pirates of the Caribbean movies,

Finding Neverland and several episodes of acclaimed TV epic, Game of Thrones. He

is, of course, most famous for his role as anal geek Gareth Keenan in The Office, the

part which accelerated his rise to the big time.



3. Andy Townsend

Currently hamming it up as a Mockney TV soccer pundit, Townsend was quite

the footballer in his day. Despite earning 70 caps for the Republic of Ireland –

including two World Cup appearances, thanks to his industry, eye for goal and an

Irish grandmother – midfielder Townsend was born in this lovely town and grew up

in Bexley. His first club was actually Welling United and Andy went on to star for

Weymouth, Southampton, Norwich – where he was shortlisted for the PFA Players’

Player of the Year award – Chelsea, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and West Brom.



4. Robert Fisk

In our reality TV-obsessed times, few may immediately identify Fisk as the

Independent Newspaper’s fearless and highly talented Middle East correspondent,

but this intrepid, experienced journalist deserves the utmost respect and recognition.

The seven-time International journalist of the year has been in his post for over two

decades and speaks Arabic, a handy skill for someone who interviewed Osama Bin

Laden on three occasions (there is unlikely to be a fourth!). His father was a Borough

Treasurer for Maidstone Council and Fisk, a pacifist, has lived in Beirut since 1976. A

seasoned war reporter, Fisk is also an accomplished author.



5. Carol McGiffin

This former Loose Women presenter is possibly a touch fortunate to be in such

exalted company but at least her inclusion allays any charges of sexism. A longtime

radio presenter, McGiffin began as co-host to Chris Evans – who she later married

then divorced – on GLR and has worked for a variety of other stations, including

LBC. Carol apparently appeared in 1172 episodes of Loose Woman from 2003 until

last year and came fourth in Celebrity Big Brother in August. After quitting the

popular daytime show last year, McGiffin plans to move to Asia with her fiancée.