Well, as if to live up to the "New Hollywood" billing, the Bafta award for Leading Actor last night went to .... Chiwetel Ejiofor for his role in the "Best film" Twelve Years a Slave.
Chiwetel was born on 10 July 1977 in Forest Gate.
His parents left Nigeria after the civil war, in the early 1970's, and moved to England. His father Arinze was a doctor, his mother worked in a chemist's shop, locally. During the 1980's the family moved to Brixton.
|A smiling, Bafta-winning, Forest Gate-born, |
Crystal Palace-supporting, Chiwetel Ejiofor
He was educated at the prestigious fee-paying Dulwich College, in South London, where some of the local good taste affected him and he became a life-long Crystal Palace FC supporter.
After leaving school, he went to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and within three months he was offered the lead in Steven Spielberg's Amistad - and hasn't looked back since. Last night is surely just one more step in an illustrious career. With good fortune in place of birth and good taste in football team, could it be anything else?
Mandela - Long Walk to Freedom was shortlisted in the Best British Movie category of the Baftas last night and leading actor Idris Elba can claim a Forest Gate connection too. Idris was born in Hackney in 1972 to mixed Sierra Leone and Ghanaian parents, but spent most of his childhood and school days in Canning Town.
|Idris Elba - local boy plays Nelson Mandela|
The movie was premiered in London in November on the day Mandela died. Idris was in town for the premier and stopped off at his uncle's garage in Dames Road, E7 before heading to the West End for the premier.
|Idris visits family business |
in Dames Road, last November.
Photo courtesy Newham Recorder
Ben Drew - Ill Manors
We have featured Forest Gate boy, Ben Drew - more widely known as Plan B, before on this site (see here). He is perhaps most recognised as a hip-hop/rapper/song writer with a string of hits, prominent among them the exceptional album The Defamation of Strickland Banks and its smash single Stay Too Long.
Ben has, additionally, carved out a career in film; having appeared in Harry Brown in 2010 and as DC Carter in The Sweeney in 2012.
|Ben Drew, on location, shooting Ill Manors|
|Now closed Earl of Essex on Romford |
Road, scene of much of the action
in Ill Manors
One of Forest Gate's most famous sons, Bryan Forbes, the dynamic actor, novelist screen-writer, producer and director of films such as Whistle Down The Wind, The L-Shaped Room and The Stepford Wives died last year, aged 86 (obituary here).
From his birth (as John Theobald Clarke) in 1926, to his evacuation as a 13-year-old in 1939, he was brought up in a terraced house in Cranmer Road - one of several obliterated in the early days of the Blitz.
|Cranmer Road's very own Bryan Forbes|
Writing for the now defunct Forest Gate Times in 2001 he recalled a happy and carefree childhood in E7 ("to me they will always be halcyon days"): playing on Wanstead Flats, being captivated by the local movie theatre - the Splendide Cinema in Forest Lane - on a site now occupied by the Community School (see here for details of the cinema) and spending his pocket money on bits of Meccano at Pattison's Toy Bazaar and Doll's Hospital opposite the station.
Anna Neagle (1904 - 1986)
Anna was born Florence Marjorie Robertson on 20 October 1904 in Glenparke Road, Forest Gate. Her family later moved to Upton Lane. She attended Park Primary school and became one of the biggest and brightest film stars of her day.
Neagle proved to be a box-office money spinner in British films for over 25 years. She was noted for providing glamour and sophistication to war-torn London audiences with her lightweight musicals, comedies and historical dramas.
|Forest Gate - born, Anna Neagle|
In her historical dramas, she was renowned for her portrayals of real-life British heroines, including Nell Gwynn (Nell Gwynn, 1934), Queen Victoria (Victoria the Great, 1937, and Sixty Glorious Years, 1938).
Neagle and Wilcox then began an association with Hollywood. Their first American film was Nurse Edith Cavell (1939),another performance of a true-life British heroine, which had a significant impact for audiences on the eve of war.
She followed these with three musical comedies, all based on once-popular stage plays: Irene (1940), followed by No, No, Nanette (1940) in which she sang Tea for Two and finally Sunny (1941). Neagle and Wilcox's last American film was Forever and a Day (1943), a tale of a London family house from 1804 to the 1940 blitz.
Returning to Britain, Anna Neagle added another real-life British heroines to her gallery, as aviator Amy Johnson in They Flew Alone. She starred in a number of further biopics, playing roles of Odette, Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria and Nell Gwynne (each for a second time). She starred in a number of quintessentially English films, featuring titles such as Mayfair, The Piccadilly Incident (best film of 1947) and Spring in Park Lane (best film 1949).
Neagle spent much of the early 1950s on the stage, but by the time she returned to films in the middle of the decade found that her fame and ability to attract good roles had faded.
She was a distant cousin of the Queen, via her descent from the illegitimate daughter of Queen Victoria's uncle, and lived in Brighton for many years with Herbert Wilcox. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1969 and died in Surrey in 1986 after a long illness. She is buried in the same grave as her husband and parents in the City of London cemetery.
Sir Alfred Hitchcock (1899 - 1980)
|The unmistakable, Sir Alfred Hitchcock|
|517 High Road, Leytonstone |
- site of Alfred Hitchcock's birth
|And the Whipps Cross Road pub named after him|
|Hollywood's Walk of Fame - Woodgrange Road next?|
How long before there is a Walk of Fame on Woodgrange Road??