Helen Mirren, 65 Since winning an Oscar for The Queen in 2007, Dame Helen has capitalised on her popularity. She has five major films coming out in the next few months, including her role as a female Prospero (Prospera) in The Tempest and Ida in a remake of Brighton Rock. Just hand over the awards now!
Joanna Lumley, 64 In 2009 the actress became a political animal, helping to win retired Gurkhas the right to live in Britain, and embarrassing a few senior politicians, including Gordon Brown, in the process. The former model, voiceover artist and outspoken campaigner also found time this year to appear in the prime-time BBC drama Mistresses.
Sonia Friedman, 45 The West End producer’s hits include last year’s award-winning Jerusalem and the girl-power musical Legally Blonde, which took more than £2 million in advance sales alone. She’s also conquered Broadway: this year’s Tony winners La Cage aux Folles, A Little Night Music and A View from the Bridge were all Friedman productions.
Kate Winslet, 35 With six Oscar nominations to her name our most effusive thesp finally won in 2008 with The Reader. Her marriage to the director Sam Mendes is over, but the career of the mother-of-two continues to rocket. She has films lined up with the directors Steven Soderbergh and Roman Polanski and a talked-about television miniseries, Mildred Pierce. Gather, gather…
Cheryl Cole, 27 Whether you think she’s the new people’s princess or a talentless (ex) Wag, Cole is a national obsession. A former talent-show winner herself (Popstars: the Rivals) and the most popular judge on The X Factor, the singer’s every hairstyle, fashion choice and tearful smile is analysed to the nth degree. If the Labour-voting Geordie ran for prime minister tomorrow she would probably get the gig.
sport in 2007 and this year became a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords. Kelly Holmes, 40 She won gold for both the 800 and the 1,500 metres at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and although she retired in 2005 she still holds the British all-time women’s record for both distances, indoors and out. She has won BBC Sports Personality of the Year and played a major role in bringing the 2012 Olympics to London.
Rebecca Adlington, 21 The previously unknown swimmer stunned everyone with her two gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, and became the first British woman to win a swimming gold since 1960. In her 800-metre freestyle win, she broke a world record that had stood for 19 years. She has just won two more golds at the Commonwealth Games.
Victoria Pendleton, 30 The cyclist won gold at the Beijing Olympics and set an Olympic record. As one of the few sportswomen who admit to a love of all things glamorous, she is a firm favourite both on and off the track and manages to combine her ripped physique with a sultry femininity.
Hope Powell, 46 Powell has been the manager of the women’s national football team since 1998, and was the first woman in the world to achieve the Uefa Pro Licence, the highest coaching qualification in football. Next year is a big one for women’s football and for Powell as England has qualified for the World Cup. From next spring women’s football gets its own professional league (though the top players will earn only £40,000 a year – hardly Wayne Rooney territory).
FOODDelia Smith, 69 No other British chef has had the longevity of Delia, whose recipes have been gracing our tables for more than 40 years. She has sold millions of cookery books and has had her name entered in the Collins English Dictionary. Who else has the power to save struggling firms, such as the manufacturers of the frying-pan she recommended for making omelettes? When Smith promoted her rhubarb and ginger brûlée recipe in a recent Waitrose advert, the supermarket sold as much rhubarb in four days as it normally sells in 14 weeks. British growers were unable to meet the spike in demand, and Waitrose had to import the fruit from Germany.
Angela Hartnett, 42 Hartnett survived an apprenticeship under Gordon Ramsay – an experience she describes as 'psychological warfare’ – and is now the country’s most successful female chef. She won a Michelin star while heading up Ramsay’s restaurant at the Connaught hotel in London, and last month bought her Michelin-starred restaurant Murano from her former boss.
Nigella Lawson, 50 With her killer curves, lascivious finger-licking and perfectly iced cupcakes, Nigella Lawson ignited the appeal for a kind of 1950s domestic goddess long before Joan from Mad Men appeared on our screens. Her books have changed the way we cook and Lawson herself is estimated to be worth more than £15 million.
Cathy Chapman, 56 As the head of product development at Marks & Spencer Chapman is one of the most powerful women in the food retail industry. Not only did she give us the first posh ready-meal in the form of chicken kiev in 1979, she also oversees all new food ranges for M&S today.