Send Her Victorious

A little while back we did a roundup of the greatest living Englishmen of a fictional persuasion. So it only seems right and proper that we should now proudly bestow upon your eyes a collection of the most notable womenfolk. Many were called and few were chosen, but those who remain are a marvel to behold.

5) Miss Marple

Agatha Christie’s master detective might not get many hearts pounding at the sight of her tweed twin-set and wispy hair, but she’ll certainly get the pulses racing of those that she accuses of murdering the countess in the drawing room with a banana. For over 30 cases Jane Marple was able to find the villain that eluded the police thanks to her wit, wiles, and knitting expertise. Or could she possibly have been inventing elaborate lies to frame innocent people while she continued her secret life of St Mary Mead’s first serial killer. A formidable woman, whatever the case.

Detective or Killer?

4) Margo Leadbetter

When the TV series The Good Life was in its prime at the end of the seventies Felicity Kendall’s character Barbara was the one generally thought of as sexy, intelligent, and most admirable of the female stars on the show. Now though we see that the long-suffering Margo Leadbetter, who lived next door to Tom & Barbara and had to deal with the pain of her once respectable neighbours turning their garden into a farm replete with chickens, goats, and constantly escaping pigs, was in fact remarkably resilient. Her class obsessions were probably more accurate than the insanely optimistic Goods, and her brave attempts to keep the sartorial standards of Surbiton up where they belonged was a testament of breeding and stiff-upper-lip determination. In the end she also achieved a quiet allure that even held Tom in its spell at times.

Margo - a woman of the people

3) Lara Croft

If there’s something that represents the age-old nature of the English then it’s rampaging through foreign countries stealing their priceless treasures and bringing them home to Blighty. One figure has done more to promote this than any other in modern culture, all while hiding the fact deftly behind inappropriate adventuring attire and a physics defying chest. Lady Croft has become an icon the world over for derring-do, beauty, and pushing large blocks around. She’s also about to reappear in a new guise, showing that a real lady can reinvent her style but keep her class.

Lock up the silver, here comes Croft!

2) Eliza Doolittle

Pygmalion may well have been a treatise on the class struggles of the early 1900s, but it could easily have been dry and preachy without the immediately loveable Eliza Doolittle taking centre stage. Her journey from cockney sparrow to fine lady is not without its battles, but in the process Eliza steals the pompous Professor Higgins’ heart and shows that class itself is not a matter of wealth or position but one of the heart. Plus hearing Audrey Hepburn shouting for her horse to ‘move your bloomin’ arse!’ is always a winner.

She's got it, by jove I think she's got it!

1) Emma Peel

To head up a list of this sort then you have to have a perfect balance of brains, beauty, and brawn. There were others who came close but truly there was only ever going to be one woman who could claim the title of Greatest Living, Fictional, Englishwoman and that was Mrs Peel. Her reliance on intelligent solutions to world-threatening problems, allied with the ability to karate chop her way through a swath of henchmen, and all while wearing a leather catsuit is the stuff of legend. Bravo Mrs Peel, the nation is in your debt…

The Greatest of Them All

So, what do you think? Any glaring omissions?  Let me know who you think should have made the list and those that you think shouldn’t be here at all….


A Peculiar People

Here at the True Brit Blog we pride ourselves on bringing you the best in social commentary, cultural enlightenment, and the Arts. Plus the occasional biscuit or two. So it with great pleasure that we herald the arrival of a new novel penned by two friends of ours from the colonies. The thing that makes it particularly interesting, and relevant to this blog, is the fact that they have set it in England (a fictitious England, but good old Blighty non-the-less).


Madam is that a pistol in your stockings or are you just pleased to see me?

The book in question is ‘Phoenix Rising’, set in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, a government department charged with the investigation of mysterious events and strange goings-on. Within the sacred walls of the ministry’s archives we find Wellington Books, a Victorian gent with a penchant for information and inventions – less a James Bond, but rather a proto-Q. Into his life explodes, quite literally, Eliza D Braun, a field agent for the ministry hailing from New Zealand and bringing with her a collection of exotic weapons and little patience for asking questions. Their relationship remains as combustible as her entrance but they soon find themselves teamed up to fight against the dark forces of the Pheonix Society. This pursuit takes them through High Street Carriage Chases, Robot Infested Mansions, and even the occasional Fatal Opera, all for Queen and Country.

Phoenix Rising is many things, but first and foremost it’s a lot of fun. Eliza and Wellington play their parts wonderfully well as the sexy, deadly secret agent, alongside the stiff-necked Brit with a little more going on under his perturbed surface than first appears. The real strength of the duo is the deft banter that fills the pages as each tries to work out the other while holding their own cards close to their, in Eliza’s case ample, chests. Comparisons can be drawn between the Avengers, Castle, and Warehouse 13 for the partnership of brains and battle but Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine have worked hard to give their creations a life of their own with enough depth and charm to warrant the further titles that are planned in the series. Add to this a believable Victorian London setting (complete with the obligatory street-urchins of unquestionable loyalty and dubious hygiene), a fine selection of secondary characters, and enough action sequences to keep even Michael Bay happy, the result is an exciting, funny, and highly enjoyable novel that will last long in the memory. A romp with some pomp, we Brits love that.

So in honour of this marvellous achievement we are proud to bestow upon Mr Morris and Lady Ballantine the Order of the Brit Blog (OBB) which acknowledges their outstanding efforts in the service of fictional Britain. God bless them, and all that sail in them.

To receive your own copy of this exemplary example of storytelling simply go to Amazon or order it from your local bookshop. For more information please visit –


The Classic British Eccentric

For many generations now it has been an established tradition in British families to have some sort of weird Uncle or Aunt who have a touch of the crazies going on. Whereas in other cultures this would result in ostracization, shame, or possibly even complete denial, over here it is a proud and notable part of our heritage.

Uncle Arthur’s built another illegal distillery in his window box? How inventive.

Auntie Marge has combined nuclear fusion and knicker elastic? That should come in handy…

Grandpa has once again annexed the Indian sub-continent by employing the use of the Royal Navy and a sizeable collection of ground troops? Well, maybe he should have explored more diplomatic methods first, but bless him, he’s 94 and still has all his own teeth.

Yep the British eccentric is a loveable character, a whimsical inventor, a misunderstood idealist. This is of course unless you happen to be poor. You see poor people can’t be eccentric, no, they’re simply crazy people who should be locked up as they’re a danger to others. Still, you have to have standards.

There have been many famous examples over the years of course, Caractacus Potts being as good as any. Not only did he build a car that can fly, sail, and seemingly think, but he also managed to call the thing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – suggesting that he may well have invented some pretty strong drugs around the same time. In fact the whole reality of his life (yes, I know he’s fictional, but run with it) is somewhat hazy when you consider the fact that he falls for a woman called Truly Scrumptious. Heavy LSD use aside Caractacus is an archetype that years later would bring us the likes of Dr Emmett Brown. Great Scott!!

Just say no, kids....

Women have also given their all in the pursuit of professional strangeness, with the creative arts being replete with candidates. Although Tracy Emin scores pretty highly for her artwork that consisted of wheeling her bed down to the gallery and not bothering to tidy it up – thus making her either a brave new talent or the laziest cleaning woman in the history of galleries – there is one that stands tall above all others. Vivienne Westwood has for decades now been convincing some of the most beautiful women in the world to dress up in clothes that are clearly designed for creatures from another planet. The fact that she can do it with a straight face and get tons of cash into the bargain proves that she must be some kind of renegade genius.

A Westwood creation....or some kind of curtain.

But when you’re clocking up the crazy you’d be hard pressed to even get near the levels that Sir Ranulph Twisleton Wykeham Fiennes OBE has managed to accrue. Not content with attaining a position in the SAS (Britain’s military elite), Ranulph instead set his heart on more tricky goals and became the first man to reach both the North and South pole on foot – well, with about half his foot and only a few fingers remaining by the time he’d finished. Shortly afterwards he suffered a heart-attack and had to have double-bypass surgery. To recover he decided to give himself a little challenge, and four months after going under the knife he completed 7 marathons in 7 days. Yep….7 in 7 days. Alongside all this he has written bestselling books, was nearly cast as James Bond instead of George Lazenby, and has a job title of Professional Adventurer.

He has now settled into a quiet retirement, with only the occasional climb up Mount Everest to keep him busy.

Ranulph. You legend.

The greatest adventurer of all time?

Are there any heroes you know that can top our Ranulph? Let me know if you think so…

The Infiltrators

Being an island race the British have a long standing relationship with the sea. In years gone by it was used by intrepid explorers like Sir Walter Raleigh and Captain James Cook to discover new and exotic lands.

Another set of adventurers also set sail from these shores in search of fame and fortune, a strange diaspora of entertainers, thinkers, and artists. They settled so well into their new surroundings that soon they were accepted as one of the natives, and slowly became part of the tribe. But in their chests still beat the lion hearts of Englishmen and Women, if only to be hidden behind transatlantic accents and quite staggering success.

These chameleons are among us now, and here I will reveal their heritage. Actually you probably know it already, but I thought it would be fun to put together a list of England’s most impressive exports.

10) Angela Lansbury

Scoff not ye….scoffers. Not only did the ‘Lans’ manage to spend most of her life sporting the same haircut, she also built an impressive Hollywood film career and secured a role in her older years as a mass murdering novelist who constantly framed innocent people for her heinous crimes. At least that’s how ‘Murder She Wrote’ appeared to me….

Have you seen this woman?

9) The Edge

He may well sound Irish and spend a fair amount of his time in America, but back in the summer of 1961 tiny cries could be heard in parts of Barking, London as David Howell Evans made his first attempts to draw an audience. These days he plays in grander arenas, but in our hearts we know he’s one of us.

He must be English, he's used to delays.

8)  John Harvard

When we hear the name of Harvard University heralded around the world (behind Oxford and Cambridge of course!) it swells an Englishman’s heart to know that the name itself belonged to a resident of these lands. In fact John Harvard only spent about a year in America after emigrating from Southwark, London in 1636. He sadly contracted Tuberculosis and died, but in his will left half of his estate, plus his personal library of over 400 books to a new college in Cambridge, Massachusetts which then renamed itself in honour of their munificent benefactor.

John Harvard, big reader.

7) Abe Sapperstein

Who? Well, maybe he isn’t exactly a household name, but the organisation he formed certainly is. As Abe, originally from London’s East End, was the creator and coach of the Harlem Globetrotters. This world famous basketball team wowed audiences the world over with their skill, athleticism, and sense of humour since their inception in 1926. Cheers Abe!

Abe Sapperstein - little guy, big friends.

6) Bob Hope

Think of Bob Hope and what springs to mind? His open air shows for US soldiers? Glittering Hollywood career? Legendary stand-up routines? I’m guessing one thing that doesn’t leap to the front is ‘Oh, you mean that guy from Eltham in Surrey?’ Yep, you guessed it, his appearance in this list is not a guest slot, because Mr Hope was a Brit… oh yes! His reason for departure from this fair isle was a simple one – at least in his routines – in that he decided to head for the US at the tender age of 4 once he discovered he could never be king. Now, wouldn’t that have been interesting….?

His Royal Highness The Bob Hope

5) Charlie Chaplin

Britain can boast a few legends of the silver screen, but none had the kind of world-wide dominance achieved by a little fella from South London who walked funny, sported a moustache, and went by the name Charles Spencer Chaplin. In the silent film era he became a mega-star thanks to his down-at-heel character ‘The Tramp’ who beguiled audiences with his humour and stunts. Such is his association with Hollywood that many forget that he was born in the impoverished borough of Walworth to a family of entertainers. Safe to day the boy done good.

Walk softly and carry a bendy stick.

4) Jonathan Ive

To your normal everyday person Jonathan Ive will be someone they’ve never heard of. But if you say iPod, iPhone, iMac, and now of course iPad then they’ll all know what you’re on about. So what’s that got to do with this chap? Well, he was pretty much responsible for designing them. From the sleepy London suburb of Chingford Ive has changed the design world forever, not to mention given us probably the finest mobile phone on the planet. Three cheers for Jonny! Hip, hip….

iPhone...that was him.

3) Archibald Leach

With a name like that what chance did the poor boy have? Thankfully Bristol-born Archie changed it when he went on stage to something far more suitable….Cary Grant, and the rest, as they say, is history. Oddly enough he seemed to spend the majority of his glittering film career with an accent that sounded like an American trying to be English, when it fact it was the other way round. His debonair style, and classic looks led him to share the screen with such legends as Katherine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Ginger Rogers and Audrey Hepburn. He did us proud.

Mr Grant. A proper gent.

2) The Liberty Bell

It’s an interesting irony to think that the bell that, as legend would have it, rang out on a summers day in Pennsylvania, 1776,  calling all to hear the reading of the declaration of Independence from British rule, and which has since gone on to be a symbol of liberty and justice, was in fact a Brit. Ok, it’s an inanimate object, and wouldn’t be granted a passport by even the most lenient of governments, but the truth is that its place of origin was Whitchapel Bell Foundry in London – so we’ll claim it!

Let freedom ring!

1) Saul Hudson

Ok, so there may well be more important political, intellectual, or artistic candidates out there, but this is my blog after all and the top spot goes to a man whose influence over guitar playing in the past 20 years has been absolutely immense. He also keeps snakes, wears a top hat, smokes cigarettes through his hair, and enjoys the odd tipple – all of which make him a classic British eccentric! Most importantly though Saul Hudson, or Slash as he is more infinitely well known, was born in the unsuspecting city of Stoke-On-Trent, before being whisked off to California in search of other amusingly named musicians who would form Guns ‘n’ Roses and set the rock world back on fire. He’s a hero of mine and I’m glad I can also boast that he’s a fellow countryman. Arise, Sir Slash!

Slash. Top hat, top chap!

The Greatest Living Englishmen, of a fictional persuasion.

In our long and proud history many heroic Englishmen have held the hopes of the nation proudly on their shoulders.

Warriors such as Nelson, Wellington, and Bader have inspired stories of incredible bravery and courage. Whereas politicians like Wilberforce and Churchill have secured their place in legend.

Fiction though has thrown up figures who embody many of the traits the English hold dear in their hearts – integrity, resourcefulness, and of course the ubiquitous stiff-upper-lip. Like many heroes they succeed where lesser mortals would falter, and create an image of how we would all like to be. Others have the ability to stoically endure the hardships and utter confusion of this life, something many of us struggle to emulate.

So here’s a list of my top five fictional Englishman…let me know if you think differently.

5) Jeeves

Where would lovable idiot Berty Wooster be without the redoubtable Jeeves? As the clueless toff bumbles his way through a series of adventures and close shaves it is his unshakable valet that acts as a rudder in his ship, directing him to calmer waters. All this while making sure his master’s dinner suit is prepared and a miracle cure for a hangover is at hand.

Right Ho, Jeeves!

The Inimitable Jeeves

4) Sherlock Holmes

When not ensconced in his Baker street abode, playing on his violin while feeding his cocaine habit, the consulting detective could be found using his stunning intellect, and not inconsiderable knowledge of tobacco, to solve some of the most fiendish cases of the day. He was even good enough to warrant an arch-nemesis in the guise of Professor Moriarty, whose intelligence was almost as formidable as the great detective himself. With his faithful friend Dr Watson by his side Holmes became the benchmark for the modern sleuth.

He’s been portrayed in countless film and television adaptations over the years, but I must say that to me the ultimate Holmes was the one of Basil Rathbone in the 1940s series of films. No one else could rock the Deerstalker like that man!

Basil Rathbone - The Ultimate Holmes

3) John Steed

Now I know what you’re all thinking, surely James Bond was the perfect gentleman spy? Well, no. Bond, at least the literary version, was a fascinating and flawed character with a penchant for exotic cocktails, scrambled eggs, sausages, and getting himself beaten up on most of his missions. I LOVE the books, which are a far more interesting venture than the majority of the films, most of which have plot holes big enough to build a secret underground lair in. But for sheer class, grace under fire, and the ability to wear a bowler hat without looking like a complete idiot, John Steed (played by Patrick MacNee) is the chairman of the board.

More reliant on wit and intelligence than brute force and snazzy gadgets, John Steed regularly saved the world with a smile on his face. Plus the sexual tension and sense of repression between him and the rather delightful Mrs Peel served to illustrate another trait of English culture. All this during the swinging sixties – now there’s a man of quite inexhaustible self-control.

Just make sure you forget that the film version with Ralph Fiennes ever happened and everything will be ok…

Classy and Deadly - John Steed

2) Number 6

When Patrick McGoohan’s character resigns from his role as a British secret agent he suddenly finds himself kidnapped and imprisoned in the surreal setting of ‘The Village’. Here he is subjected to a series of attempts to get him to divulge the reasons for his sudden career change, each more stranger than the last. From village elections to virtual Westerns, Number 6 maintains a particularly English persona of word-play, polite manners, and subtle scheming. Let’s face it, any man who can finish a series by riding a rocking horse, presiding over the weirdest court case in history, then dancing on the back of a fake house loaded on the back of a lorry, and arrive at Westminster as if everything’s normal has got to be one of the most regal of all men.

Be seeing you…

He's not a number...he's a free man!

1) Arthur Dent

Sure, there are more capable men, more heroic men, more interesting men, but if this is truly about the great Englishmen then Arthur Dent is the only sensible choice to head the list. You see Arthur is one of us. Steed, Number 6 – these are men of incredible fortitude and bravery. Holmes and Jeeves have phenomenal minds that they use to great results. Arthur, though, gives hope to us ordinary men. Faced with the fate of the universe in the balance, the destruction of his world, and worst of all losing the lady of his dreams to the double-headed sex god that is Zaphod Beeblebrox, Arthur responds in the only authentic way a true Englishman should – he tries to find a really good cup of tea.

He may be descended from a hotch-potch collection of telephone sanitizers and advertising executives, but despite this he prevails and gets to see more than any other man in the whole of history. Arthur is the ultimate under-dog, and there’s nothing the English love and respect more than that.

The Greatest Fictional Englishman - Arthur Dent