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Arthurian legend returns to his creative roots

Wed, 18 May 2005

A much-loved University of East Anglia alumnus is making a grumpy old pilgrimage to his former comedy stamping ground.

Comedian, presenter and star of hit BBC series Grumpy Old Men, Arthur Smith will return to his alma mater to take part in UEA Court on Friday May 20.

UEA Court is the university's version of an annual general meeting and this year takes festivals as its theme. The university's literary festivals are internationally renowned and next year UEA and its Norwich Research Park partners will host the prestigious BA Festival of Science. As guest of honour, Arthur Smith will talk about his time as a regular performer at the Edinburgh Festival, as well as his formative years as an English student at UEA.

Famous now as Britain's most lovable curmudgeon, Arthur Smith arrived at UEA in 1973 to study Comparative Literature. A self-confessed show-off, his colourful student career included a stint as chairman of the Poetry Society. He also wrote for the student newspaper and penned sketches for the student revue.

After graduating with a 2:1 in 1976, he set off for the Edinburgh Fringe with a group of fellow UEA performers the following summer. It was the first of many appearances in Edinburgh and the beginning of a long and successful career in radio and television comedy.

Returning to his creative roots on Friday, Arthur will tour the campus to witness the many changes over the last 30 years and visit his old student room in one of UEA's iconic Ziggurats. He also plans to re-visit his old haunts in Norwich city centre.

"It is a great pleasure to welcome Arthur Smith back to UEA. He will be joined by many other alumni who attend Court and are part of the wider community of UEA graduates," said Vice-Chancellor Prof David Eastwood.

"We have over 70,000 ex-students around the world and this summer will see around 300 alumni from the 1970s joining us for a campus reunion. The willingness of alumni to be part of the development of the university and its reputation is a strong reminder of the affection they have for UEA and Norwich."

UEA Court 2005 will be chaired by Chancellor Sir Brandon Gough. After the formal university business has been conducted, there will be a series of presentations. Pro-Vice-Chancellor Prof Trevor Davies will detail the exciting plans for next year's BA Festival of Science. And Jon Cook, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, will talk about UEA's history of prestigious literary events.