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Harold Owen "Gary" Wilmot, MBE (born 8 May 1954) is an English singer, actor, and comedian who rose to fame as a contestant on New Faces.[1] As a television presenter, he is best known as the host of So You Want To Be Top and Showstoppers.

Gary Wilmot

Harold Owen Wilmot

(1954-05-08) 8 May 1954 (ageĀ 65)
OccupationSinger, actor, comedian
ChildrenKatie Wilmot , Georgia Wilmot

Wilmot was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to drama and charity.[2]


Early lifeEdit

Wilmot was born in Lambeth, London, into a mixed-race household; his mother was English, and his father, Harry, was Jamaican. Harry was a member of vocal harmony group The Southlanders,[3] but died of a brain tumour in 1961, when his sons were still young.[3][4] Despite these show business roots, Wilmot's upbringing was outside of the limelight; he continued to live on the predominantly white estate while his mother struggled to raise her children on family allowance. Later, he began to work on building sites and in factories, soon realising that manual labour was not a career he wished to pursue.[5]


Wilmot started his career in entertainment after a friend informed an agent of his talent, and soon began to perform as part of the variety circuit. However, his big break came when he featured as part of a comedy double act with Judy McPhee on New Faces; the pair were later finalists. This would lead to numerous television appearances on Copy Cats, Knees Ups, Cue Gary!, and The Keith Harris Show. One of his most notable television roles was with the BBC children's quiz show So You Want To Be Top, which he co-presented with Leni Harper.[6]

In 1994, Wilmot hosted Showstoppers, a programme which featured him performing songs from musicals alongside special guests.[7] Originally commissioned as a one-off series in which celebrities were given ten days to learn and perform a song, Wilmot was asked to record a further series of six spectaculars due to popular demand. He also starred in and directed a tour of Showstoppers which proved so popular that its original sixty dates were increased to one hundred and sixty.[8]


In 1989, Wilmot made a move into musical theatre debuting in the West End production of Me and My Girl, playing the role of Bill Snibson at the Adelphi Theatre.[4] He played the role to critical acclaim for two years, with Jack Tinker describing him as a "Musical Talent of the Highest Order". Wilmot was subsequently nominated in the "Best Actor" category at the Olivier Awards, and theatre tour of a new comedy, Teething Troubles followed. He was also cast as Joe in Carmen Jones at the Old Vic before starring in the world premiere of the Barry Manilow musical Copacabana at London's Prince of Wales Theatre.

In 2001 Wilmot joined The New Shakespeare Company to play Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, and the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance national tour with Sue Pollard as Ruth, in 2001-2002. The national tour of Giles Havergal's adaptation of the Graham Greene novel Travels with My Aunt followed. In 2003, he was Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, taking over from Michael Ball,[9] and returning in 2006 and 2007, albeit outside the West End. Wilmot also played Billy Flynn in the national touring company of Chicago.[10]

Other stage productions he has appeared in include H.M.S. Pinafore, Santa Claus the Musical,[11] Oliver!,[12] Half a Sixpence, The Wizard of Oz,[13] The Goodbye Girl, One for the Road, Confusions, Lord Arthur Saville's Crime, and a national tour of the successful Watermill Newbury Theatre production of Radio Times.[14]

He is currently playing Jonathan Ripples in Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear - the Musical! at the National Theatre, London.


Wilmot's solo albums include Love Situation, The Album, and Double Standards.[15] In 2004 he embarked on his own national concert tour My Kind of Music taking him to many major concert venues throughout the country.[16]


  • So You Want To Be Top? (1983-1985)
  • Chas & Dave's Knees-Up
  • Mike Reid's Mates and Music
  • You and Me (presenter)
  • The Bob Monkhouse Show
  • Copy Cats
  • The Keith Harris Show
  • CITV (presenter in November)
  • The Book Tower
  • Fun with Numbers (presenter)
  • Showstoppers
  • Lazarus
  • An Audience with Des O'Connor
  • An Evening With Chas and Dave


  1. ^ "Stage Star Gary Wilmot Has Come a Long Way Since Talent Show Days".
  2. ^ Queen's birthday honours 2018
  3. ^ a b "Gary Wilmot talks Chicago". Nottingham Evening Post. Nottingham Post Media Group Ltd. 26 June 2009. Archived from the original on 21 January 2010. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Gary Wilmot official site - biography". Archived from the original on 21 January 2010. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  5. ^ "Revelations: Gary Wilmot - Goodbye Dad, hello showbiz".
  6. ^ "Gary Wilmot: A fruitful career - Features - The Stage". 1 March 2012.
  7. ^ "Gary Wilmot Talks Chicago".
  8. ^ "West End star Gary tunes in as Radio Times hits city stage".
  9. ^ "Wilmot Takes Over from Ball as Chitty's Caractacus".
  10. ^ "Aberdeen, North & Tayside". STV News.
  11. ^ "Santa Claus The Musical".
  12. ^ "BBC - Birmingham - Entertainment - Gary Wilmot takes control of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".
  13. ^ "The Wizard Of Oz: Not quite over the rainbow, I'm afraid".
  14. ^ Gary Wilmot Credits
  15. ^ "gary wilmot".
  16. ^ "Archive news from the York Press".

External linksEdit