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What Makes Glasgow Special? People Make Glasgow (updated 2019)

Updated: Apr 29, 2019

Glasgow is one of the world’s most exciting, friendly and culturally vibrant cities. Crowned the ‘World’s Friendliest City’ in the 2019 Time Out Index, friendly Glaswegians are the thing everyone comments on.

Glasgow also has a phenomenally vibrant arts scene for a city of its size. Indeed, some say the city’s size – big enough to be a city, small enough to be a village – is what makes it so unique.

Top 6 Most Famous People to Come from Glasgow

Over the years Glaswegians have made their mark on the political, scientific, educational, religious, commercial and cultural map at home and abroad. They include football legend Sir Alex Ferguson, architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Comedian Sir Billy Connolly. And even though we tried, we couldn’t possibly name everyone that makes Glasgow Great, so please let us know who or what makes it special to you in the comments below. #peoplemakeglasgow

1. Sir William (Billy) Connolly CBE - The 'Big Yin'

The ‘Big Yin’ displays two classic Glaswegian tendencies – a great sense of humour and a history of claiming not to be a fan of either of the Old Firm football teams. Billy Connolly was a ‘fan’ of Clyde FC for years before apparently deciding that his success levels were such that they wouldn’t be unduly affected by confessing a leaning for the green-and-white side of the city’s footballing divide. Connolly came through that classic learning ground for Glasgow ‘patter’, the shipyards of the Clyde, then progressed from playing the folk music scene to gradually doing less singing and more talking when onstage.

These days, he’s still touring and entertaining audiences across the globe. We should put in our apologies to Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges and Glasgow-born, now US chat-show host, Craig Ferguson who were all narrowly edged out for a place on the list.

2. Sir Alex Ferguson CBE - 'Fergie'

We’re keen to make sure we get our facts right when talking about Sir Alex, lest we end up having a football boot bouncing off our face, a la David Beckham.

Brought up in Govan, Ferguson played as a forward for several Scottish clubs, including Dunfermline Athletic and Rangers. While playing for Dunfermline, he was the top goal scorer in the Scottish league in the 1965–66 season. Towards the end of his playing career he also worked as a coach, then started his managerial career with East Stirlingshire and St Mirren.

Ferguson then enjoyed a highly successful period as manager of Aberdeen, winning three Scottish league championships, four Scottish Cups and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1983. He briefly managed Scotland following the death of Jock Stein, taking the team to the 1986 World Cup.

Ferguson was appointed manager of Manchester United in November 1986. During his 26 years with Manchester United he won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and two UEFA Champions League titles.

He was knighted in the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honours list for his services to the game. Ferguson is the longest-serving manager of Manchester United, having overtaken Sir Matt Busby's record on 19 December 2010. He retired from management at the end of the 2012–13 season, having won the Premier League in his final season.

3. Lulu Kennedy-Cairns OBE - 'Lulu'

Lulu’s name is synonymous with rock and blues. It was the sixties when she first burst onto the scene at the tender age of 15, with the mega, definitive and enduring Shout. Since then she has topped the charts in every decade, working over the years with some of the greatest talents of our time – from Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash and The Beatles to Elton John, David Bowie and Paul McCartney. Also, an accomplished actress, her film debut was in the cult classic To Sir With Love, breaking hearts all over the world with her plaintive rendition of the title song. She also starred alongside Tom Courtenay in Whatever Happened to Harold Smith and in the much-loved Adrian Mole tv series. In the nineties she had the dubious pleasure of being shot by her number one fans in the shape of French & Saunders - which led to a regular slot in the cult comedy, Absolutely Fabulous.

And never one to slow down – Lulu embarked on a nationwide tour with her own music based show. Joined by two of the best powerhouse voices in the business – Chaka Khan and Anastacia – ‘Here Come The Girls’ was a must see event of 2009. Lulu says 'I am so proud of our Here Come the Girls Tour. Putting it together has been so exciting and I am thrilled that these great voices, and now my great friends, Chaka Khan and Anastacia, shared the experience with me. The Show was a celebration of us women - a little mischief and a lot of fun, set to real get-up-and-dance music. Talk about woman power!!!" The show went on to have a second sell out tour in 2010.

And as if all this wasn’t enough - Lulu is now a very successful business woman with her anti-ageing skin and body care collection, Time Bomb, currently breaking sales records on QVC and now in John Lewis - and winning her a whole new legion of fans. She has also just published a new coffee table book with Harper Collins called ‘Lulu’s Secrets to Looking Good’ and is also promoting her brand new haircare collection Operation: Glam

4. Charles Rennie Mackintosh

The debate over who is or was Scotland’s most famous architect probably centres around two Glaswegians, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. As Mackintosh’s art nouveau design skills branched out from just architecture to earn him eminence in areas such as furniture design too, he’s just edged out Thomson to make our list of famous Glaswegians. Although Thomson died when Mackintosh was only 7, there is a link between the two. In 1890, Mackintosh won the Alexander Thomson Travelling Studentship, set up for the “furtherance of the study of ancient classic architecture, with special reference to the principles illustrated in Mr Thomson’s works.”

As with so many greats, Mackintosh’s work wasn’t fully appreciated in his home city until after his death though. One of his most famous architectural designs, House for an Art Lover (which can be visited in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park), was created by Mackintosh in 1901… but work on building it didn’t begin until 1989!

5. Mark Millar MBE

The name Mark Millar may have a few people scratching their heads, but if we were to mention that the comic book writer is the creator of Kick-Ass then recognition will (hopefully!) start to dawn.

We’re also aware that the people of the Lanarkshire town of Coatbridge may not be too happy about us ‘appropriating’ Millar for Glasgow, but he does live in the city these days. As well as Kick-Ass, he’s also responsible for The Authority, The Ultimates, Marvel Knights Spider-Man, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Civil War, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Wanted, Chrononauts and Superior.

Millar has been an executive producer on all of his films, and for four years worked as a creative consultant to Fox Studios on their Marvel slate of films. In 2017, Netflix bought Millar’s comic line, Millarworld, which Millar and his wife Lucy will continue to run; publishing new comics and adapting them for other media.

6. Peter Capaldi

James McAvoy’s Hollywood career should really have earned him a place on our list, but we just can’t bring ourselves to leave out Peter Capaldi. He first came to prominence in 1992 with the release of the critically acclaimed British movie, Soft Top Hard Shoulder, BUT it was a role he first took on in 2005 that has really elevated him to national treasure status.

He portrayed the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who (2013-2017) and Malcolm Tucker the spin doctor in The Thick of It, for which he has received four British Academy Television Award nominations, winning Best Male Comedy Performance in 2010. When he reprised the role of Tucker in the feature film In the Loop, Capaldi was honoured with several film critic award nominations for Best Supporting Actor.

Following on from his success, as a director, Capaldi won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Short Film for his short film Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life. He went on to write and direct the drama film Strictly Sinatra and two series of the sitcom Getting On.

Even though we tried, we couldn’t possibly have named everyone who makes Glasgow what it is, so please let us know who or what makes Glasgow special to you in the comments below.

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