On the surface, Basingstoke may appear to be a modest and unassuming town.

But it does produce an interesting and successful array of alumni, from Hollywood actress Liz Hurley to literary superstar Jane Austen. 

This week, we are taking a look at famous faces who hail from the town - the news and politics edition.

Have we left someone out? Email: newsdesk@basingstokegazette.co.uk. 

BBC presenter Sima Kotecha 

She is famous for presenting the news on television and the radio for the BBC.

But the renowned journalist began her passion for journalism here in her home town of Basingstoke through work experience on hospital radio. 

Basingstoke Gazette: Sima collecting an award from Queen Mary's College with her parents Sima collecting an award from Queen Mary's College with her parents

Sima Kotecha attended Queen Mary’s College between 1996 and 1998 where she studied business, theatre and English language. It was during this time, QMC reports Sima fell in love with the history of language. 

Read more: Seven reasons why Basingstoke is the best town in the south 

Sima went onto university at Goldsmith’s before securing her first job at BBC Radio Berkshire in 2003. After a spell in Brussels, she moved back to London in 2012 and worked as a news reporter for Radio 4’s flagship news programmes The World at One and PM. Sima has also been an on-screen correspondent for Newsnight and BBC Breakfast and remains a regular on BBC programmes today. 

Economist Grace Blakeley

Former Lords Wandsworth College student Grace Blakeley is an economist, Labour activist and journalist who works for the socialist Tribune Magazine and contributes to The New Statesman. 

The 26-year-old, who hails from Basingstoke, studied at the fee-paying Lord Wandsworth College in Long Sutton, Hook, before attending The Sixth Form College in Farnborough. Grace then went onto Oxford to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Peter's College.

Grace is a familiar face on political programmes, having shared her views on Question Time, The Andrew Marr Show and Politics Live, to name but a few.

In the 2019 General Election, Grace was out campaigning in Hatch Warren for Labour candidate Kerena Marchant.

Read more: These are the 21 signs you know you are from Basingstoke 

Grace, who has 114,000 followers on Twitter, shared the news on the social networking site that she was recently treated at Basingstoke hospital after she injured her finger, chopping an avocado. 

She wrote: "Just to clarify the finger is still attached and I have been stitched back together by a lovely nurse in Basingstoke hospital.

"Shout out to the absolute legends dealing with idiots like me while also coping with a pandemic."

Basingstoke Gazette:

Arron Banks

Self-described as one of the "bad boys of Brexit", Arron Banks is probably best known for his role as the co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign. 

The 54-year-old was raised in Basingstoke. He was educated at Crookham Court boarding school before he was allegedly expelled for selling lead stolen from school buildings. He then went to St Bartholomew's School in Newbury before he was expelled again. 

Read more: Seventeen famous faces linked to Basingstoke (yes, including Liz Hurley) 

The British businessman, who owns an insurance company as well as various websites including Westmonster, is also known as a political donor, having given money to both the Conservative Party and Ukip over the years.

Basingstoke Gazette: Arron Banks

He came into the spotlight during the EU Referendum through his role with the Leave campaign. He was investigated by the National Crime Agency over alleged wrongdoing in the run up to the referendum. The allegations were unfounded and he was found to have not broken the law.

Arron, who now lives near Bristol, is an active voice on Twitter and sparks many a debate with his tweets.

Last year, while reminiscing about his days as the chair of Basingstoke Young Conservatives, he criticised the appearance of a group of Tory activists in Bracknell for not looking smart enough.

Tweeting alongside a picture of the group, wearing casual attire, he wrote: “"Gosh, the state of young Conservatives nowadays. When I was chairman of Basingstoke YC, we politely knocked on doors in a suit and tie and helped out in the local community with meals on wheels." 

Arron caused widespread outrage in August 2019 when he tweeted a picture of climate change activist Greta Thunberg on a yacht with the caption, “Freak yachting accidents do happen in August”.

He later clarified: “Obviously I don’t hope she encounters a freak yachting accident. I just enjoy watching the ludicrous tweeter [sic] mob following the next outrage.”

Basingstoke Gazette:

Pippa Taylor

Radio show listeners might recognise Pippa Taylor’s voice from her role at producer for The Chris Moyles Show on Radio X.

Pippa joined the programme when it started in September 2015, three years after Chris Moyles left Radio 1.

Read more: The Basingstoke Bucket List - things to do before you die 

The 42-year-old presenter and producer was born in Brighton and grew up in Basingstoke. On top of her work, Pippa also raised more than £27,000 running the London marathon for the Global Make Some Noise charity.

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And you might recognise her mother Cllr Diane Taylor, who is the current mayor of Basingstoke.

Pippa often tweets her support of her mum and her father Andrew, who are active members of the Basingstoke community. Both are Christians and involved in the local church, with Andrew volunteering as a street pastor.

Pippa recently tweeted to say she was “proud” of her mum, following the news that Cllr Diane Taylor is set to continue as a mayor for a second consecutive year. Cllr Taylor has appeared on The Chris Moyles Show as a guest.