Blur's drummer, an Olympic medallist and Elmo: How famous faces did in the general election

Politics is showbusiness for ugly people - according to the crude and perhaps unfair saying by American political consultant Paul Begala.

However, occasionally famous faces from the world of entertainment and sport do cross over into the ruthless, back-stabbing world of politics.

Sometimes they are hugely successful - just look at the case of the late US actor Ronald Reagan or former Pakistani cricket star Imran Khan, who both ended up running their respective countries.

In the UK, former actress Glenda Jackson, ex-GMTV presenter Esther McVey and Olympic gold medallist Sebastian Coe are among those who switched careers in the spotlight to become MPs.

However, this time around, the story was mostly one of failure for the celebrities - and sort-of celebrities - who ran in the 2024 UK general election...

Dave Rowntree

The man with the sticks behind the kit in Britpop band Blur had been hoping to become a Labour MP in the Conservative-held Mid Sussex constituency.

Unlike some of his fellow famous contenders, the 60-year-old did have prior experience in politics. The drummer was successfully elected as a Labour county councillor in Norfolk in 2017, before standing down in 2021.

Rowntree also once stood as the party's parliamentary candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster seat in 2010, but came second after being comfortably defeated by the Tory incumbent.

The musician, fresh from Blur's controversial headline show at US music festival Coachella, suffered defeat again this time around, coming third in Mid Sussex.

The seat was won by the Liberal Democrats, in a gain from the Conservatives.

Rowntree received 9,397 votes - with Labour's vote share falling by a tiny 0.4% to 17.6%, suggesting his candidacy did not have a huge impact on voters.

James Cracknell

Former rowing champion James Cracknell was unveiled as the Conservative candidate for Colchester last year.

The 52-year-old had high hopes of victory. He is widely known to the general public, after receiving plaudits for gold medal wins in the coxless fours at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, coupled with high-profile TV appearances such as a stint on Strictly Come Dancing in 2019.

The previous MP in the seat, Tory Will Quince, who decided to stand down at the 2024 election, also had a healthy majority of 9,000 over Labour.

However, Cracknell only managed to pick up a silver medal in this race - as he was defeated by Labour's Pam Cox following a sizeable swing to her party.

He secured 10,554 votes, with the Tory vote share slumping by almost a third to 23.5%.

Marc Jenkins

Another former Olympian, Jenkins had been hoping to get elected as MP for Gower in Wales.

As a Tory candidate in a seat with a sizeable Labour majority in the previous election, it was perhaps just as well he had experience in battling against adversity.

The athlete famously suffered a bike crash during the Athens 2004 men's triathlon. But, instead of giving up, he ran 2km to get his bike repaired before eventually crossing the finish line in last place.

Despite his disappointing result, he received praise at the time for his determination to finish the race.

In this, the first political contest of his life, Jenkins finished second behind Labour, with 8,913 votes. However, the Tory vote share in the seat halved, dropping by 21% to 18.9%.

Tom Gray

The Mercury Prize winner is perhaps best known as the co-founder of indie rock band Gomez, but he also has a string of TV and theatre music-writing credits to his name, as well as being a political activist.

The composer pulled off the notable feat of pipping comedian and actor Eddie Izzard to become Labour's candidate for Brighton Pavilion last year.

However, he always had a mountain to climb in the constituency, which has been a Green stronghold since 2005.

Sure enough, the environmentally-focused party's candidate Sian Berry held the seat on Thursday with 28,809 votes.

Gray can perhaps console himself that the 14,519 people who backed him at the ballot box represented a vote share of 27.7% for Labour - a 5.1% improvement for the party compared to the last election there.

Read more:
Follow general election fallout live
Who could replace Sunak as Tory leader?
Labour's landslide in maps and charts

Josh Tapper

If you are not a fan of Channel 4's hit programme Gogglebox, you may not have heard of Tapper.

However, the fresh-faced 26-year-old impressed Labour colleagues enough to be selected as the party's candidate to run against (now former) deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden in Hertsmere, Hertfordshire.

The Tories did manage to hold on, but the party's vote share slumped by almost 20%.

Tapper came second with 13,459 votes - a vote share of 28% and a 6.9% improvement on the last election.

However, it appears that Reform UK was the main beneficiary of the Conservative collapse in the constituency, with the party receiving a vote share of almost 14%.

Alison Hume

The television writer is known for creating the CBBC series The Sparticle Mystery and the 2005 BBC drama Rocket Man,as well as being a trade unionist and disability campaigner.

Unlike many on this list, she was successful in her battle to be elected and is now the MP for Scarborough and Whitby.

Previously held by the Conservatives, Hume wrestled the seat back for Labour, picking up 17,758 seats, with the party's total vote share rising by more than 5% to 40.2%.


Those watching Sir Keir Starmer's victory speech in his London constituency of Holborn and St Pancras may have spotted a frighteningly large version of the loveable red Muppet in the background.

However, fans of the Sesame Street star may be disappointed to learn that it was not the one true Elmo hoping to secure a spot on the green benches in the House of Commons, but fathers' rights activist Bobby Smith.

The founder of the Give Me Back Elmo party frequently dresses up as the character to raise awareness of his political beliefs.

He came last with 19 votes in the Labour stronghold.

Niko Omilana

The 26-year-old prankster and comedian has an impressive seven million followers on YouTube, with legions of fans worldwide.

He decided to stand as an independent in Rishi Sunak's constituency of Richmond and Northallerton after an impressive performance in the 2021 London Mayoral election.

Omilana secured nearly 50,000 first-preference votes in the capital back then, with more than 75,000 Londoners putting him down as their second-preference.

There was controversy in the run-up to this year's general election when it emerged there were 11 constituencies where the name Niko Omilana had been listed as a candidate.

Ultimately, his attempt to unseat the former Tory leader was less successful than his performance in the capital, as he received just 160 votes.

Count Binface

The space politician was the only independent candidate in the general election to secure the endorsement of a national newspaper.

The Daily Star urged its readers - across several front page splashes - to vote for what it described as the "most sane and honest" candidate in the country.

Formerly known as Lord Buckethead - until a copyright dispute forced him to change his name - the Recyclons leader has been a familiar face at high-profile election counts in recent years.

This time around, he stood in Mr Sunak's North Yorkshire constituency and received 308 votes.

The count said his sixth-place finish was his "highest ever" in an election, while he also secured his highest-ever parliamentary vote tally.

The intergalactic space warrior further pointed out he was also the physically highest candidate, largely thanks to his space helmet.