After the pretty bleak year we’re about to put behind us once and for all, we’ve never been more in the “out with the old, in with the new” spirit.
Fortunately, it looks like there’s plenty of new talent currently on the come-up who are set for big things in 2021.
Here are the 12 of the rising stars set to shake up the world of music, TV, comedy and more in the next year...
After being name-checked on the BBC’s Sound Of... list last year, Arlo Parks spent the following 12 months – which saw so many in the music industry struggling – working hard at putting out new music that has seen her hailed as a young voice everyone should be paying attention to.
While her intelligent and thought-provoking single Black Dog was lauded by critics for its refreshing take on mental health, she’s also received the thumbs up from stars like Billie Eilish and Michaela Coel (who included Arlo’s song Cola in the acclaimed drama I May Destroy You).
With a debut album set for release in 2021, not to mention a UK tour (a lot of which has already sold out), Arlo Parks is unquestionably a name you should get used to hearing in the year ahead.
In a year where the news cycle left us with little to smile about, Munya Chawawa ’s social media output gave thousands a much-needed reason to laugh.
From hilarious rap parody videos to send-ups of media reports courtesy of his alter-ego, “Bi Bi Si” reporter Barty Crease, Munya won praise from stars including Clara Amfo and John Boyega, and even earned himself a Mobo nomination for Best Media Personality.
He also recently signed to Atlantic Records and released the headline-grabbing single Piers Morgan under the guise of another of his comedy characters, Unknown P, so get ready for more of his original music and sketches (with astonishingly fast turn-around) in 2021.
Jordan Kristine Seamón
Frankly, we could have picked any of the young cast from Luca Guadagnino’s critically-acclaimed drama We Are Who We Are for this list. However, it’s Jordan Kristine Seamón who impressed us the most – not just because of her fantastic performance in the show, but also the fact that at 17, We Are Who We Are marked her first ever on-screen credit.
Jordan told IndieWire earlier in 2020 that she’s getting used to a new “chaotic” way of life now We Are Who We Are is out in the world, and wants to try her hand at comedy next, as a complete change of pace from her first role.
At just 17 years old, Alfie Templeman has already gained a loyal following thanks to his musical stylings. Not only has he already had plenty of support from BBC Radio 1 (Annie Mac has now named three of his tracks her Hottest Record In The World), he’s also heading into 2021 with endorsements from Vevo and MTV, and a spot on the BBC’s Sound Of… list.
Putting his best foot forward, you can listen out for Alfie on the brand new Top Of The Pops special, set to air on New Year’s Day.
After the second series of Sex Education proved to be every bit as captivating, hilarious and absolutely outrageous as its predecessor, we can’t wait to return to Moordale High in 2021 (even if Covid-19 restrictions mean we’re in for a slightly longer wait than usual before school is back in session).
While much of what’s in store for the third season is being kept under wraps, it’s already been revealed that we’re set to be introduced to three brand new characters. Among them is Cal, the show’s first non-binary character, who will be played by Dua Saleh.
Dua’s Sex Education debut is still a little way off, but they’re actually already known for their music career, with their most recent EP Rosetta being released in 2020.
Jeremy Pope might seem like an unusual choice for a “ones to watch” list, particularly as he was already a Tony and Grammy-nominated performer with various Broadway credits before he landed his breakthrough role as Archie in Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood.
Still, there’s no denying that his performance in the Netflix drama helped push the young star further into the mainstream (it even earned him his first Emmy nomination), and next year will see him joining the cast of another of the super-producer’s flagship shows, Pose. No doubt we can expect him to crop up in other shows in the Murphy-verse before long.
Originally gathering a large following thanks to her no-holds-barred YouTube channel, Ivorian Doll proved she was a force to be reckoned with in the British music scene in 2020, not just in terms of her rap skills but also her elaborate music videos.
In the video for her biggest track Rumours – currently on 4.5 million Spotify streams, and 5.3 million YouTube views – she sends up teen high school dramas like Mean Girls and Clueless, while more recent offering Body Bag clip (or the two-minute “movie” as she describes it) sees her and some friends disposing of a body in the woods… in sleek and super-stylised fashion, naturally.
Fingers crossed that 2021 is the year we can get some semblance of live performance back – so Ivorian Doll can really show the world what she’s made of.
Another British musician who’s been tipped for big things in the next 12 months is Holly Humberstone. Five stars in NME, endorsement from Lewis Capaldi and Sam Fender and a placement on the BBC’s Sound Of 2021 list mean the Grantham-born songwriter is definitely in good stead for the year ahead.
She’s already making waves internationally, too, with praise from the New York Times and Apple Music, plus the fact she’s already delivered a performance on Jimmy Kimmel’s US talk show, cementing her place as one to watch.
I May Destroy You was unquestionably one of the most talked-about shows of 2020, and Paapa Essiedu’s nuanced portrayal of Kwame – a close friend of Michaela Coel’s character, Arabella, who is profoundly changed after going through his own experience of sexual assault – was a stand-out.
Already respected within the theatre world (his performance in productions of Shakespeare staples Romeo & Juliet and King Lear in the last few years have seen him singled out for praise), he’ll next be seen in the upcoming Channel 5 thriller about the final months of Anne Boleyn’s life, opposite Queen & Slim star Jodie Turner-Smith.
If you caught the four-part BBC drama Us and thought young star Tom Taylor looked familiar, that might be because you remember him playing Suranne Jones and Bertie Carvel’s young son in the TV drama Doctor Foster.
Now 19, Tom’s performance as Albie, a teenager doing his best to find his way in the world and assert his independence while on holiday with his rowing parents, in Us was one of the show’s strongest aspects, and we can imagine has set him up nicely for some big offers in 2021.
British comedian London Hughes is someone you may well have been following for a while now (we’ve actually had our eye on her since she appeared on Celebs Go Dating way back in 2017).
She’s ended this year with the double-punch of her first ever Netflix comedy special, the beautifully-titled To Catch A Dick, and an appearance in the streaming service’s yearly roundup The Afterparty. Her years of hard work have truly paid off, and it’s also been announced that next year she’ll be working on a new comedy film loosely based on her own life.
“My mum just brought to my attention that the last movie role I had was a customer in Bridget Jones’s Baby – deleted scene three on the bonus DVD,” she joked on Twitter after the announcement. “So yep, things are totally looking up mate.”
Long-serving radio presenter Jordan North found himself a brand new audience in 2020, when he was announced as a campmate on the first ever castle-based series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!.
It later transpired that he was actually a last-minute replacement for an unknown star who dropped out at the eleventh hour, but despite getting off to a rocky start (we’ll never get over the image of him throwing up on day one, sorry), there was no stopping him from winning over viewers, eventually finishing as runner up.