21 TV stars of tomorrow for 2021

Every New Year's Day, I like to put together a list of names who I believe will be huge on television in the twelve months ahead. A list made up of complete newcomers, internet stars ready for mainstream crossover and familiar faces not yet known for their telly work, plus everyone else in between.


Last year’s list included Paul Mescal who became a household name overnight due to the success of Normal People, Sophie Willian whose BBC Two sitcom pilot Alma’s Not Normal did so well, it’s already confirmed for a full series and Big Zuu whose Dave series Big Zuu’s Big Eats proved to be such a hit that it's returning in 2021 with a second series.


As I look ahead to this year's I Talk Telly Awards, I hope to be able to see a large number of these names included on the shortlist for Best Breakthrough. And because 2020 didn't pan out in the way we'd all hoped it would, you'll notice that a couple of last year's names have made their way onto this year's list, in the hope that their deserved big break finally happens.


Aggi O'Casey


Actor Aggi O'Casey graduated in 2020 from Ireland's National Academy of Dramatic Art, The Lir Academy in Dublin - associated with RADA in London - and has already landed herself the lead role in BBC One's highly-anticipated new drama Ridley Road, which has been adapted by Sarah Solemani from the novel by Jo Bloom


Filming began on the four-part thriller, which explores the rise of fascism in 1960s London, in September and viewers will see Aggi play Vivien Epstein, a young Jewish woman who falls in love with a member of the '62 group'. Rejecting her comfortable middle-class life in Manchester, she joins the fight against fascism in London, risking everything for her beliefs and for the man she loves.


She joins a stellar cast which includes Rory Kinnear, Tamzin Outhwaite, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Eddie Marsan, Samantha Spiro, Rita Tushingham, Danny Hatchard and Tom Varey.


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Babatúndé Aléshé


Comedian, actor and writer Babatúndé Aléshé appeared on a number of television shows in 2020 including Don't Hate the Playaz, Jonathan Ross' Comedy Club and of course Celebrity Gogglebox where he became a fan favourite after sharing a sofa with Mo Gilligan who he'll also be supporting on his upcoming tour.


Babatúndé was also involved in Channel 4's Black, British and Funny, which put a spotlight on the British Black comedy circuit of the past 30 years and won Best Documentary at the 2020 I Talk Telly Awards.


With more television appearances already confirmed for 2021, including As Yet Untitled on Dave and some very exciting new TV projects in development, I think we'll be seeing a lot more of Babatúndé on our screens over the next 12 months, and I can't wait.


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Callum Scott Howells


The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that actor Callum Scott Howells was on this list last year, but with his debut TV role in Russell T Davies' new Channel 4 drama It's a Sin, pushed back to the following year due to the pandemic, it's only right that he's included again now the five-part series is confirmed in the schedules for January.


Set across a decade in which everything changed, It's a Sin follows the story of AIDS and charts the joy and heartbreak of three young gay lads and their best friend Jill who are thrown together in the 1980s and grow up in the shadow of AIDS.


Callum stars alongside Olly Alexander, Omari Douglas and Neil Patrick Harris as Colin Morris-Jones, a quiet, unassuming, boy from Wales, who becomes an apprentice on Savile Row who starts a new life in London. With a new virus on the rise, their lives are tested in ways they never imagined and as the decade passes, they're determined to live and love more fiercely than ever.


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Chunkz


Popular social media personality Chunkz not only hosted the MOBO Awards in 2020 alongside Maya Jama but also walked away with an award, winning Best Media Personality, which will come as no surprise to his 1.5m Instagram followers and 1.35m YouTube subscribers.


2020 was also the year in which he played for England during Soccer Aid for Unicef and appeared on ITV2's Don't Hate the Playaz. With a following as large as his and a personality which instantly draws you in, I'd be very surprised if Chunkz isn't all over our TV screens in 2021.


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Emile John


Actor Emile John graduated in 2020 from Rose Bruford College (BA Acting) and has already secured a huge TV gig in one of the country's biggest soaps! He'll play Ethan in Emmerdale, making his on screen debut in the coming weeks on ITV.


Part of a new father and son duo, Emile plays Ethan, the son of a vicar who has worked hard to carve himself a successful law career and has been described as intelligent, inheriting his father’s strong sense of justice.


But as Ethan joins Emmerdale, he's wrongly accuses of a crime and his father's intense need to fight injustice means it's not long before they have a run in with the Dingles


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Giovanna Fletcher


Whilst already a household name for those who read her books and listen to her podcast, I'm A Celeb's Queen of the Castle Giovanna Fletcher is not yet known for her television work. But after her growing popularity, I'm confident that's all about to change.


In 2019 she co-hosted The Baby Club on CBeebies with Nigel Clarke but she's best-known for her Happy Mum Happy Baby podcast which has seen her interview the likes of Emma Willis, Fearne Cotton, Davina McCall, Joe Wicks, Nadiya Hussain and of course The Duchess of Cambridge.


With all that experience in interviewing, I'd be very surprised if a career in TV presenting doesn't await Giovanna in 2021. We know she's popular with the public and we know she knows how to conduct an interview - a safe pair of hands if you ask me!


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Isabella Pappas


Actor Isabella Pappas is a recent Arts Ed Sixth Form alumna and already has an Olivier Award nomination to her name for Best Supporting Actress for playing Iris in The Nether in 2015, but it's her starring role in upcoming drama Finding Alice, opposite Keeley Hawes that will make TV audiences aware of her brilliance.


The six-part drama airs this January on ITV and Keeley plays widow Alice whose husband’s sudden and accidental death unearths a trail of secrets, debt, suspicion and criminality and Isabella plays their 16-year-old daughter Charlotte.


Having been lucky enough to watch some of the new series, I'm hopeful that this will be the first of many television roles for Isabella.


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Jordan North


Before going November 2020, unless you listened to BBC Radio 1 every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am-1pm, you were probably unaware of radio presenter Jordan North, who occasionally also fills in for Scott Mills and Nick Grimshaw when they're away.


But after agreeing to go in to the I'm A Celebrity castle, Jordan North has very quickly become a household name and incredibly popular with the public, finishing runner-up in this year's series.


Much like what I said for Giovanna, who beat him to the title in the 2020 series, I'd be very surprised if he isn't flooded with television offers in 2021.


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Kae Kurd


In November 2019, the day after his Live At The Apollo debut aired on BBC Two, comedian Kae Kurd quit his job at Apple on Regent Street to focus on his stand-up, writing and podcasting before announcing The Spoken Kurd Tour, originally planned for 2020 and currently rescheduled for April/May 2021.


To date, Kae has released two stand-up specials on his YouTube channel, Kurd Your Enthusiasm and a recently released 2020 Mini-Special and appeared as a guest on a number of TV shows including Don't Hate the Playaz and Jonathan Ross' Comedy Club.


With a writing credit on Netflix mockumentary Death to 2020, a number of upcoming television appearances booked and his own scripted vehicle in development, 2021 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for one of the most-exciting up-and-coming comedians in the UK.


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London Hughes


London Hughes' star has been rising for a long time now and after a move to Los Angeles in February 2020, it seems the stars are finally aligning for her as not only does she co-host The Netflix Afterparty with David Spade and Fortune Feimster but her hilarious first stand-up special To Catch a D*ck, landed on Netflix in 195 countries just in time for Christmas.


The special recounts London’s adventures in dating and was executive produced by Kevin Hart. It's the same show London took to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2019, earning her a Best Show nomination at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards - the first British Black woman to ever be nominated.


As well as all of that, NBC have committed to a sitcom pilot from London which she'll co-write with The Bernie Mac Show creator Larry Wilmore and they'll both serve as executive producers. The pilot follows London Jones, who moves to the US to seek love and success after being dumped by her boyfriend.


With an ever-growing CV, huge US interest and undeniable talent, London Hughes will be a global household name in no time.


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Mawaan Rizwan


Actor and comedian Mawaan Rizwan has already performed on Live at the Apollo on BBC Two, Harry Hill's Club Nite on Channel 4 and up until 2020 was perhaps best-known for his viral video, Mango Song.


Since then, Mawaan co-hosted Jonathan Ross' Comedy Club on ITV, starred opposite Maisie Williams in Sky One comedy Two Weeks to Live and took part in the tenth series of Taskmaster, now on Channel 4. He is also credited as a writer on the second and upcoming third series of Sex Education on Netflix.


With a rising profile and talents in many different areas, be that acting, comedy or writing, I predict a very bright future for Mawaan. And deservedly so.


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Michael Spicer


If The Room Next Door means nothing to you, then you've probably never heard of comedian Michael Spicer, who began posting videos online under that title in 2019. It sees him play a fictional political adviser who communicates with politicians like Boris Johnson and Donald Trump through an earpiece, resulting in razor-sharp comedy sketches, watched and shared by tens of millions of people.


The success of these videos, especially in 2020, led to a number of appearances on The Late Late Show with James Corden, a comedy pilot on BBC Radio 4, Before Next Door which aired in June, and a spin-off book, The Secret Political Adviser, which was released in October. He was also a recurring cast member in Diane Morgan's BBC Two sitcom Mandy.


I'd be very surprised if in the next twelve months, The Room Next Door doesn't migrate to television and Michael is given his own show where he can incorporate new characters alongside the political adviser. Whatever happens next, I'll be watching.


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Munya Chawawa


Munya Chawawa's talents have been bubbling under for a couple of years now but in 2020, his online comedy videos have been hard to avoid and have earnt him a MOBO nomination for Best Media Personality. Which is not surprising considering his 100% hit-rate and incredible speed.


A story would break, and in what often feels like a couple of hours, Munya would have turned around a hilarious video, with impressive production values, which parodies popular culture and that day's top trending story.


He's poked fun at those who complained about Diversity's BGT dance routine and Sainsbury's' Christmas advert, parodied BBC News to report on the Black Lives Matter protests using his newsreader character Barty Crease and and parodied the likes of Craig David, Ne-Yo to sum up the mood of the nation when it comes to isolation and the rule of six. His other characters include Jamie Oliver's 'Caribbean cousin' Jonny Oliver and posh drill rapper Unknown P who recently signed a major deal with Atlantic Records.


It used to be that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was key in finding the next big names in comedy, but with social media that's changing. We saw that with Mo Gilligan - to give just one example - and we're seeing it again with Munya Chawawa who is deserving of a long career in comedy, and a string of hit television shows, starting asap in 2021. Aft


But the key to his mainstream success, and this is something I tweeted back in July, will be that he's given complete creative control in whatever he chooses to do next. His success online and super speedy turnaround of content proves that he's more than capable of writing content that not only delivers on the laughs but speaks to a generation which television often neglects.


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Nicôle Lecky


Actor and writer Nicôle Lecky began her career writing for EastEnders spin-off E20 and has also written on shows such as Youngers, Ackley Bridge and most recently Unsaid Stories on ITV which she also starred in opposite Amanda Abbington.


2021 is set to turn Nicôle into a household name as she adapts her one-woman play, Superhoe, into a six-part BBC Three drama. She'll play 24-year-old Sasha Clayton who lives at home and spends most of her time in her bedroom smoking weed and stalking her ex-boyfriend on Instagram whilst dreaming being a singer and rapper.


When she's kicked out, she lives with Carly who introduces her to the glamorous world of social media influencing and partying, and what seems like an easy way to make money through cam work and sex work. But as the gap between her online presence and real life continues to grow, Sasha finds herself struggling to escape a world that is more complex and darker than she could have imagined.


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Omari Douglas


Also on last year's list alongside co-star Callum Scott Howells is Omari Douglas whose TV debut in in Russell T Davies' new Channel 4 drama It's a Sin, has also been pushed back to January 2021.


Set across a decade in which everything changed, It's a Sin follows the story of AIDS and charts the joy and heartbreak of three young gay lads and their best friend Jill who are thrown together in the 1980s and grow up in the shadow of AIDS.


Omari stars alongside Olly Alexander, Callum Scott Howells and Neil Patrick Harris as London-born 17-year-old Roscoe Babatunde, a wild, brittle party boy who's always on the run. With a new virus on the rise, their lives are tested in ways they never imagined and as the decade passes, they're determined to live and love more fiercely than ever.


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Remel London


Radio is often a good place to find future TV presenters and Remel London - who hosts her own show every Saturday at 1-4pm - is the first of two Capital XTRA names to appear on this list thanks to that show and some promising TV work in 2020.


Her presenting career began on Link Up TV, which lead to hosting the official red carpet coverage for the MOBO's in 2016 and 2017 before becoming part of the What's Up TV family on Sky One where she is now one of the show's main hosts.


And in 2020 she co-hosted Unmuted on Sky Arts with Aaron Roach Bridgeman - the magazine-style show which explores the best of art trends and cultural events whilst welcoming hit music artists, comedians and spoken word performers to the stage.


She also runs The Mainstream, a creative platform offering networking opportunities, live events, workshops, seminars, Q&A’s and a podcast to support individuals that would like to launch and develop their career into the mainstream media and entertainment world. So take note of Remel's name because I predict we'll be seeing a lot more of her on our screens in 2021.


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Rose Matafeo


Born in New Zealand, comedian Rose Matafeo won Best Comedy Show at the 2018 Edinburgh Comedy Awards, took part in the ninth series of Taskmaster in 2019 and released her own HBO Max comedy special Horndog in 2020 but it's what she has in store for 2021 which is set to turn her into a household name.


Launching at some point over the next twelve months on BBC Three - and HBO Max in the US - is Starstruck, a six-part sitcom Rose has not only written but will also star in as lead character Rose.


Rose is a twenty-something millennial living in London who's juggling two dead-end jobs and navigating the awkward morning-after-the-night-before when she discovers the complications of accidentally sleeping with a film star.


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Rosie Jones


Comedian, actor and writer Rosie Jones will already be a familiar face to many thanks to her appearances on shows such as Big Zuu's Big Eats, Hypothetical, Joe Lycett's Got Your Back, Jonathan Ross' Comedy Show and The Last Leg - and as she mentions in her stand-up, she was also a writer on the second season of hit Netflix show Sex Education.


In November 2020, Edinburgh Fringe favourite Rosie, fronted her own comedy travel series on All4, Mission: Accessible, which sees her on a mission to help disabled people plan fun-filled adventures. With her comedian pals in tow, Rosie visits places across the UK to compile a guide to the accessible British vacation.


With a growing profile, infectious personality and wicked sense of humour, it's surely only a matter of time before Rosie - who has already acted in Silent Witness, Doctors and Shakespeare & Hathaway - is the lead her own sitcom, which preferably she has written.


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Vick Hope


Vick Hope began her presenting career on MTV before hosting FYI Daily on ITV2 and later co-hosting the Capital Breakfast show with Roman Kemp on Capital FM, a career move which saw her invited to take part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2018.


Since leaving Capital to pursue other projects, a number of opportunities have come her way including; hosting her own 4Music series Back to Mine during, co-hosting BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks and The Official Chart: First Look every Sunday and fronting regular competition segments across ITV daytime shows This Morning and Loose Women.


Towards the end of 2020 Vick became the presenter of new I'm A Celeb companion show The Daily Drop which aired daily on ITV2 and also on the ITV Hub where fans were able to catch up on all the daily events from the castle and hear them discussed, debated and dissected by Vick and a lively panel of guests.


If ITV have any sense she'll be back in 2021 with another series of The Daily Drop and hopefully given further presenting opportunities on either existing shows or new format as her personable style is already proving popular with viewers.


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Will Njobvu


Presenter Will Njobvu began his broadcasting career behind the scenes as a newsroom journalist for Channel 5, before becoming a regular co-host on Channel 5's Jeremy Vine and can now be found hosting his own Capital XTRA show every Saturday morning.


Just last weekend, after The Masked Singer UK returned on ITV, Will could be found on the ITV Hub hosting a brand new companion show for the series, The Masked Singer: Unmasked which captures all of the magic and madness of the nation’s favourite guessing game in one glorious spin-off show.


Repeated on ITV2, the show contains exclusive first interviews with that evening’s unmasked celebrity and chats with host Joel Dommett and panellists Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall, Rita Ora and new recruit Mo Gilligan. Plus all the behind the scenes gossip from the most secretive show on TV!


With an infectious charisma and personality I can see this being just the start of a long career in television presenting for Will.


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Zeze Millz


Presenter, actor and social commentator Zeze Millz has carved out quite the career for herself so far, with her online series The Zeze Millz Show regularly trending on YouTube within hours of release, sparking conversations across social media and notching up hundreds of thousands of views per video.


Herself a voice within the Black British community, Zeze's online series sees her interview some of the most prolific, influential and controversial voices in the culture including Wiley, Pastor Tobi, Kayode Ewumi, Big Narstie, Loski, Castilo and many more. As well as presenting an award at the 2020 MOBO's, she was nominated alongside the likes of Chunkz and Maya Jama for Best Media Personality and hosted her own show as part of Channel U's relaunch.


Zeze's never afraid to ask the questions others would avoid and her no-nonsense approach to interviewing brings out the best in her guests as they open up in ways they haven't before. It's a style and approach that's desperately needed on mainstream television and I believe The Zeze Millz Show - or a version of, hosted by Zeze is the answer.


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