2020's brand new celebrities – from Carole Baskin to Chanel the African grey

2020 has been long. Like, really long. So much so that it’s felt like a decade within itself.

We’ve been through an awful lot this year, what with the global pandemic, relentless lockdowns, events, concerts and weddings being cancelled and Hermine not making it to the final of the Great British Bake Off. So it’s no surprise that December 2019 seems like another world.

A year ago, we were all busy making plans (you precious, naive idiots) for the year ahead and reflecting on a decade of ridiculous showbiz gossip and feuds. But little did we know what was to come, not only in, you know, the world, but in showbiz and television.

Because there are household names now, as well as more niche icons, that we had never even heard of when this decade of a year began. Whether it’s pandemic heroes or reality TV phenomenons, a whole new group of celebrities has emerged, and it’s strange to think that we had no inkling of who they were on New Year’s Eve 2019.

So, as 2020 draws to a close, let’s remember the people who gained notoriety in the strangest year of them all, and maybe even made it a bit better.

Carole Baskin

Remember Lockdown 1.0? Wild times, guys. While we all adjusted to working from home and were on our 18th attempt at banana bread, Netflix did us a solid and dropped an insane reality TV series for us all to binge and bond over.

Tiger King, the truly bonkers tale of Joe Exotic and how he ended up in prison, became a worldwide phenomenon, due to many of us having nothing to do but to watch it. Some of us may have already known about Joe Exotic from his documentary with Louis Theroux, but Carole Baskin was the breakout star – a big cat lover with a passion for animal print clothing and quirky photo shoots with her husband and a long-running feud with her rival Joe.

An instant pub quiz staple, Carole Baskin became a household name off the back of the show, and even went on to join the cast of Dancing With The Stars. We truly appreciate the hustle.

Paul Mescal

Very few people have had a good year, but Paul Mescal is definitely one of them. Last year, the Irish actor was chosen to play Connell Waldron in the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s bestseller Normal People opposite Daisy Edgar Jones, in his first big TV role.

We knew the show was eagerly anticipated, but we didn’t expect Paul to become the international heartthrob he has. Everybody and their mother got a crush on the Kildare-born actor this year, and somehow Connell’s silver chain and GAA shorts became the sexiest fashion statements around.

Since the show aired in April, Paul landed his first Emmy nomination, starred in videos for the Rolling Stones and Phoebe Bridgers, and has been cast in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut. Not too shabby. 

Jessica Batten and the cast of Love Is Blind

Yes, somehow Love Is Blind only aired this year, proving time makes no sense anymore.

Pre-lockdown and global catastrophe, Netflix gave us a group of singletons so desperate to get married that they were willing to propose to somebody through a wall after talking to them for two days ‘sight unseen’.

The addictive series gave us some genius moments – Giannina falling over in her wedding dress! Barnett’s face when Amber said she was in major student debut but just didn’t want to work! – but the standout was Jessica ‘The Messica’ Batten, a person so wild she may have been genetically engineered for this show.

Yes, she was the sloppiest drunk on television. Yes, she had a serious baby voice issue. Yes, she gave her dog wine. But really, aren’t we all a little bit Jessica?

Chanel, the African grey parrot

One of 2020’s breakout stars wasn’t even a person. 

Back in April, Sandra Hannah filmed her anguish as her African grey parrot Chanel escaped her home in Liverpool, with her owner walking the streets, pleading for her safe return.

Cue dance remixes and one of the only moments of pure joy we got all year. CHANEEEEEEEL!

(It’s ok, Sandra and Chanel were reunited.)

Captain Sir Tom Moore

The pandemic brought to light some true heroes, from NHS staff and key workers, to fundraisers and scientists. And Captain Sir Tom Moore definitely belongs among those ranks.

In the run-up to his 100th birthday in April, Captain Tom began doing laps of his garden, with a view of raising £1,000 for NHS Charities Together. By his 100th birthday, his efforts had raised over £30 million.

Captain Tom also became the oldest person to have a UK number one after his single You’ll Never Walk Alone with Michael Ball hit the top spot.

In July, Captain Tom was knighted by the Queen, and was also appointed the first Honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, Yorkshire.

Siânnise Fudge and the cast of Love Island 6

Remember back in January when we all complained that a winter series of Love Island would be too much? What fun.

When hot singles could still travel to Majorca and get handsy without sanitiser and bubble formations, we were introduced to our sixth batch of islanders, looking for love and Boohoo discount codes in the sun.

It was as entertaining as always, but a special shoutout must go to Siânnise Fudge, for her incredible story arc from death staring off a balcony to loved up TikTok star.

(She and Luke Trotman have a combined 2.2 million followers and yes, they’re still together.)

Chrishell Stause 

OK, so if you were ahead of the game, you would have known who Chrishell was in 2019, but 2020 was the year that Selling Sunset really blew up.

Real Housewives mixed with property porn, Selling Sunset began in 2019 but this year, we were all enthralled with the lives of the staff at the Oppenheim Group as we were blessed with a further two series.

Chrishell Stause was the standout heroine, as we all sympathised with her split from husband Justin Hartley (SHE FOUND OUT BY TEXT!) and wanted good things for her.

Happily for us, she went on to be cast on Dancing With The Stars and is now dating professional dancer Keo Motsepe.

Munya Chawawa 

Munya didn’t start comedy this year, but 2020 was the year his star truly rose.

While many would have thought we couldn’t laugh at the horrors we’ve been through this year, Munya took topics like coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter protests and made them funny – his take on the racist backlash against the Sainsbury’s Christmas ad is a particular highlight.

After his parody drill rapper Unknown P dropped his debut single, Piers Morgan, we predict Munya will become even more famous in 2021. Although let’s just hope he doesn’t have more tragedies to joke about.

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