16 Famous People You Didn’t Know Graduated From The University of Manchester
The University of Manchester has the largest global alumni community of any campus-based university in the UK. Here are just 16 of the most well-known among them.
1. Benedict Cumberbatch
OK, you probably did know about this one. As one of our most famous alumni, every UoM student looks forward to taking a picture with Benedict Cumberbatch’s cardboard cutout at graduation. He is probably most recognised for his leading role as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC adaptation, but has acted in numerous movies like The Hobbit and Doctor Strange and theatre productions like Hamlet too. When he was walking the very same halls that students do today, Benedict was studying Drama.
2. Brian Cox
Also probably not a surprise, Professor Cox studied Physics at Manchester to PhD level. He is currently a Professor of Particle Physics at UoM. He is most notable for presenting the science programme series Wonders of… and writing popular books like Why Does E=mc² . It isn’t unusual to see him around campus, although it doesn’t happen very often.
3. Ed O’Brien
Slightly less well-known, unless you’re a big music fan of course, Ed is one fifth of the band Radiohead. He plays the guitar, and has recorded nine studio albums with his band. Ed studied Economics at Manchester.
4. Dan Howell
Dan is a video blogger on YouTube and his account danisnotonfire has over 6 million subscribers. He never actually graduated from Manchester; after studying Law for a year, he dropped out to pursue video blogging as a profession which, to be fair, seems to have paid off. Dan has also presented a radio show on BBC Radio 1.
5. Parineeti Chopra
Parineeti is a Bollywood actress. Originally from India, she moved to England and received a triple honours degree in Business, Finance and Economics from Manchester Business School.
6. Anthony Burgess
Anthony Burgess was an English writer and composer. He was originally rejected from Victoria University of Manchester for a degree in Music because he did poorly in Physics, so chose to study English Language and Literature there instead. In his lifetime, he composed over 250 musical works, and wrote novels such as A Clockwork Orange.
7. Toby Jones
Toby Jones is an actor. He provided the voice of Dobby in the Harry Potter films, and has been in many other top film franchises in his life, such as Captain America and The Hunger Games. During his time at Manchester, he also studied drama. Interestingly, he and Benedict Cumberbatch worked alongside each other in Season 4 of Sherlock.
8. Meera Syal
Meera Syal is a comedian and actress. She was part of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me, a well-known sketch comedy that premiered in the 90s about conflict and integration between traditional Indian culture and modern British life. Meera graduated from Manchester with a double first in English and Drama.
9. Alan Turing.
Computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing is most famous for his WW2 decoding work of German intelligence codes for the British government at Bletchley Park. He is also considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Turing was appointed Reader in the Mathematics Departments at the Victoria University of Manchester – he even has a building on campus named after him. A historical drama thriller film called The Imitation Game was released in 2014 based off Turing’s life. Three guesses which actor played him in the film… (It was Benedict Cumberbatch).
10. Ernest Rutherford
Ernest Rutherford, alongside Thomas Royds, proved that alpha radiation is helium nuclei at the Victoria University of Manchester. Known as the father of nuclear physics, he pioneered the Rutherford model of the atom, going on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
11. Jack Whitehall
Best known perhaps for his role as JP in Fresh Meat and Alfie Wickers in Bad Education, Jack Whitehall is a comedian and actor. He briefly studied History of Art at Manchester before dropping out to pursue stand-up comedy.
12 . Sir Maurice Oldfield
Sir Maurice Oldfield was an intelligence officer and espionage administrator. He was the 7th director of MI6. At the Victoria University of Manchester he studied Medieval History. Sir Maurice graduated with a first-class degree and was elected to a fellowship.
13. Rona Robinson
Rona Robinson is best known for being the first woman in the United Kingdom to receive a first-class degree in Chemistry. She became interested in women’s suffrage whilst teaching at a pupil-teacher centre, even being imprisoned twice with a fellow suffragette.
14. Christabel Pankhurst
The daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, the women’s suffrage movement leader, Christabel Pankhurst studied Law at Manchester. She graduated with honours in her degree but could not practice law as she was a woman. Christabel was the co-founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
15. Sir Philip Craven
Sir Philip Craven is a former athlete and current sports administrator. He is the President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). When he was 16 years old, he had an accident during a rock-climbing expedition and was left paralysed. He played wheelchair basketball for Great Britain 5 times in the Paralympic Games, and competed in swimming along with track and field. In Championship games, he has won many gold medals. At Manchester, Sir Philip studied geography.
16. Samuel Alexander
Samuel Alexander was a notable philosopher. He had always wanted to obtain a professorship, so he came to Owens College in Manchester, which is now part of the Old Quadrangle. This leading figure also has a building named after him, with a bust in the foyer.