Famous Brits you’ve never heard of – but they’re huge stars across the world


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Unknown at home, these are the secret celebrities who are mobbed by fans in China, France and Pakistan. One was launched to stardom by a TV talent show.

Another crossed the Channel without a word of French but became a household name on TV.

And a third uploaded a spiritual song in Urdu, only for it to go viral two years later and bring her fame… in Pakistan.

They follow in the footsteps of Liverpool’s Amy Jackson, who is little known here but has 9.5million Instagram followers as a leading Bollywood actress.

Here, they tell how it feels to be famous in a foreign land and anonymous at home.

Have you heard of any of these famous Brits abroad? Let us know in the comments.

my Jackson attends the EE British Academy Film Awards at Royal Albert Hall on February 10, 2019 in London, England.
Amy Jackson is little known in the UK but is a leading Bollywood actress

The folk song singer in China

Iain shot to fame when he auditioned for China's Got Talent, becoming a novelty act as a westerner singing traditional Chinese songs
Iain shot to fame when he auditioned for China’s Got Talent

Iain Inglis found overnight fame 5,000 miles from his native Cardiff after reaching the semi-finals of China’s Got Talent in 2012.

He auditioned as a joke – but with up to 400 million tuning in to each episode he was soon being mobbed as he did his weekly shop.

Iain, 43, had moved to Japan in 2002 to be an English teacher. There, he met and married his Chinese wife, moving with her back to her homeland in 2004.

Iain said: “In 2007 I moved to Sanya, in Hainan Province, to work in guest relations in a hotel and my Chinese took off. I entered the show for a laugh – I can’t sing but I gave it a good go. I couldn’t believe the reaction.

“I think people liked that I was a foreigner singing traditional Chinese songs.”

Iain Inglis
He now hosts a weekly China-wide prime time travel show

Wearing a Red Army uniform, his renditions of Chinese Communist anthems saw Iain make it to the live shows.

He said: “The older generation particularly loved it.”

The dad-of-one, who went out in the semi-finals, said: “It was a bit crazy after. I began touring and whenever I travelled through a big city, fans would mob me. It was strange.”

He now hosts a weekly China-wide prime time travel show – but still goes unrecognised on trips back to Cardiff.

He said: “I’m not sure what I’d be doing if I was still in the UK. I certainly don’t think I would be famous.”

The sports presenter in France

Darren Tulett during the UEFA Europa League 2019/20
Darren Tulett presents Match of the Day

When Darren Tulett moved to Paris with a pal at 23, the politics and social science student was excited just to be teaching English.

He said: “I had no idea how long I’d stay and no plan. I’d wanted to get into journalism, but that wasn’t my intention when I arrived without a word of French.

Ironically, his pitiful language skills proved an asset.”

He said: “I was under strict instruction not to speak French in the classroom… which suited me!

“I started dating a French girl and we were sat in a jazz club one night when she said something to me I didn’t understand.

“All I could make out was ‘fini’. I said, ‘No fini. The club is open until two’.“

Darren is known for his wacky sense of humour and says leaning into his Britishness helped pave his career abroad.

It took me 10 minutes to realise she was dumping me. But not long after, I met a French woman who became my wife and taught me the language.”

After a brief return to the UK to join Bloomberg News, he went back to cover the 1998 World Cup, hosted by France, and stayed.

Now a renowned TV personality loved for his fun approach to sports presenting, he is affectionately known as “Darren d’Angleterre”.

Darren, 55, said: “I joined Canal+ in 2002, basically France’s version of Sky, and 10 years later moved to be IN Sports.”

Globally the channel has 55million subscribers, and Darren hosts Champions Arena –its Match of the Day.

He said: “It’s still a bit odd when people recognise me in the street. They’ll come up to ask for a photo.

“My mum finds it amusing when she visits. Rather than being held back by being English, I leaned into it –although my French is a lot better now.

“I now have two bilingual daughters.

“It’s mad 30 years later I’m still here and so is Nick, the mate I came with.”

The singing duo who are a huge hit in Pakistan

Originally from London, Tanya says her family find her fame in Pakistan amusing.
Originally from London, Tanya says her family find her fame in Pakistan amusing.

When Tanya Wells visits her family in London, there is barely a hint of the fan base she commands elsewhere.

Tanya, 33, now lives in Switzerland with Brazilian husband Paulo Vinicius, 36.

But it is 3,785 miles away in Pakistan that she is a viral singing sensation with their band Seven Eyes. Big on mixing up cultural influences, Tanya – who was partly schooled in India to broaden her mind – put a song online in 2015 on which she sang in Urdu.

Two years later the track unexpectedly went viral in Pakistan, where Urdu is the official language, and has reached 7.5million views.

Suddenly, the pair were overnight stars in the country – yet they remain unknown in Britain, Brazil and Switzerland.

Tanya said: “I’d attended school in India and Paulo is from Brazil so we often sing in different languages.

“The song was on the internet for two years, but one day people in Pakistan started taking notice. I have no idea how it happened.

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“It was an older song – a famous ‘ghazal’ written by a seminal Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

“Suddenly, we had this huge fan base there.”

Travelling to Pakistan in 2017 for a concert, Tanya was stunned when 1,000 people turned up just to watch her sound check.

She said: “That was our first taste of fame.

“The country just connected with our performances. I think they appreciate that we’re Westerners paying respect to their heritage and music.

“My schooling means our band was inspired by Indian music, but we’ve evolved it to include other cultures too.

”Tanya admits her accidental fame leaves her family back in Wandsworth South West London, a little flummoxed.

She said: “My family think it’s really random and bizarre.

“They’re not wrong! I’ve been recognised in Pakistan by festival goers but didn’t have chance to go out on the street.“

When I’m home in London though I’ll get stopped by British Pakistani people who recognise me.

“On occasions, when my sister has been in a taxi and music has come up and they find out I’m her sister, the drivers get so happy they give her a free trip.

“I’ve always loved music and using it to connect with people, so I love that the Pakistani people have accepted us.


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