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Greg James, Jenni Murray and Graham Linehan to be UEA honorary graduates

Greg James has been announced as one of UEA’s honorary degree recipients this summer, on the eve of the Radio 1 Big Weekend in Norwich. The Radio 1 drive-time presenter and UEA graduate joins a list of high-profile actors, authors, academics and public figures who will visit the campus in July - which Greg describes as 'the place where I fell in love with drama and radio'.

Others to be honoured at graduation ceremonies from 21-24 July include actor Samuel West, Woman’s Hour presenter Dame Jenni Murray and comedian and writer Graham Linehan.

Honorary degrees are given each year by the University to honour those who have made an impact in fields such as the arts, science and civil society and a number of recipients have links with the University.

UEA Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson said: “We take great pride in honouring those who make valuable and notable contributions to society alongside our newest cohort of graduating students. This year’s honorary graduates are an impressive group of artists, writers, business and community leaders who I hope will inspire this year’s graduates and encourage their ambitions for their own future careers.”

Greg James, a UEA graduate, presents the Radio 1 drive time show. He studied drama and presented several shows on the students' union radio station Livewire 1350AM, becoming station manager in 2006. He also presented several breakfast shows on Future Radio in Norwich before he got his break at BBC Radio 1. During university holidays he presented stints on Galaxy North East.

Greg has stayed in touch with the University, returning in 2013 to open the Student Union’s newly refurbished Post Office during UEA’s 50th anniversary celebration weekend. He is in the city for the Radio 1 Big Weekend event at Earlham Park, next to UEA’s campus, this weekend.

He said: “My affair with UEA continues - it really IS wonderful and I'm completely honoured to be given this. I spent a very happy three years there and it's the place where I fell in love with drama and radio, so it's very special to me. As soon as the ceremony is over, I'll set about officially changing my name on all credit cards, mortgage documents and most importantly, the Radio 1 website.”

Greg will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Irish television writer and director Graham Linehan has written a number of popular television comedies and is most noted for writing Black Books, The IT Crowd and co-writing Father Ted with Arthur Mathews. In their early collaborations, Linehan and Mathews were responsible for segments in many sketch shows, including Alas Smith and Jones, Harry Enfield and Chums, The All New Alexei Sayle Show and the Ted and Ralph characters in The Fast Show played by UEA alumni Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse. Linehan wrote and directed the 2006 Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd and has been awarded an International Emmy and two BAFTAs for the show, two BAFTAs for Father Ted and another for Black Books.

Graham said: “I'm delighted and somewhat stunned to be afforded this honour. Perhaps now I'll be in a position to apply for a real job."

Graham will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Arthur Smith is an English alternative comedian and writer. Smith studied at UEA where he was chairman of the poetry society, wrote for the student newspaper and contributed sketches for the student review. He graduated with a 2:1 BA degree in comparative literature in 1976. He appeared at UEA’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2013.

He said: “I am delighted to be coming back again to UEA which made me what I am. I am also looking forward to wearing a silly hat.”

Arthur will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Dame Jenni Murray is most recognised as the voice of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour - well known for its high quality, influential broadcasting that includes in-depth items on gender equality issues and stories of inspirational women. The journalist and broadcaster has also written a number of books and writes regularly for various newspapers and magazines.

Jenni said: “It’s a great honour to be awarded an honorary doctorate at UEA and I look forward to another trip to Norwich”.

She will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.

Erica Wagner is an American author and critic, living in London. She is former literary editor of The Times. She moved to Britain in the 1980s to continue her education, first at St Paul's Girls' School, then at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and finally at UEA, where she was taught by Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain. She is the author of several books, including a collection of short stories, Gravity, and Ariel’s Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and the Story of Birthday Letters. Her latest work is the novel Seizure. Her latest work is the novel Seizure, and she is completing a biography of Washington Roebling, builder of the Brooklyn Bridge.

She said: "I am simply delighted -- and indeed honoured -- to receive this degree. UEA is a wonderful place, and I have such lovely memories of my time there. I'm really looking forward to attending the graduation ceremony. And I should add that UEA has played an enormous role in the course of my life, as I met my husband, the author and educator Francis Gilbert, on our MA in Creative Writing there!"

Erica will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

(From L-R: Diana Athill, David Almond, Arthur Smith, Sam West, Jenni Murray, Erica Wagner, Graham Linehan)

Samuel West is an actor and director perhaps best known for his role in the film Howards End and his work on stage, including the award-winning play Enron. Both his parents, actors Prunella Scales and Timothy West, already hold honorary degrees from UEA and Samuel has previously visited the University to speak to drama students.

Samuel will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Diana Athill, born in 1917 in Norfolk, is a fiction and autobiographical writer and distinguished literary editor. In memoirs she published from 2000 onwards she discusses ageing and daily life frankly and its ups and downs. 

Diana will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Irish author John Boyne studied English Literature at Trinity College Dublin and Creative Writing at UEA where he was awarded the Curtis Brown prize. Boyne’s 2006 New York Times Bestseller, The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas was made into an award-winning Miramax film with the novel itself winning 2 Irish Book Awards and the Bisto Book of the Year. John is the author of 9 novels for adults, 4 for younger readers and his work is published in 48 languages.

John will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

David Almond is an acclaimed, boundary-breaking author of children’s books and one of only three UK authors to win the biennial international Hans Christian Andersen Award (2010) - the most prestigious prize in children’s literature. His work includes novels, short stories, graphic novels, plays and opera libretti.  Novels include Skellig, The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas, The Tightrope Walkers and A Song for Ella Grey. Almond is a UEA alumnus where he studied English and American Literature.

David will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Baroness Beeban Kidron is an English film director most well-known for directing Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. She is the joint founder of the education charity FILMCLUB, which helps schools with after-school clubs in the United Kingdom, with clubs in Norfolk. Kidron has been a guest speaker at the UEA. In the House of Lords she sits on the Crossbenches.

Baroness Kidron will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

David Grossman is a British journalist who is currently political correspondent for Newsnight, a BBC current affairs programme. He was educated at St Albans School and at the University of East Anglia where he graduated with a degree in politics in 1987. He previously worked as a reporter for On The Record, as a reporter and presenter on BBC Radio Solent, as a reporter with BBC South Today, and as Political Correspondent for BBC North West.

David will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.

(From L-R: Baroness Beeban Kidron, Jonathan Powell, Douglas Kell, David Grossman, Susan Owens, John Boyne)

Prof Douglas Kell is a biochemist and Professor of Bioanalytical Sciences in the School of Chemistry at the University of Manchester, based in the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology. He was formerly CEO of the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) from 2008-2013 and is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Kell was appointed CBE in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to science and research.

Douglas will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science.

Dominic Christian is Executive Chairman of Aon Benfield International and also serves as CEO of Aon UK Limited. He chairs UEA’s Campaign Advisory Board and has an Honours Degree in History from UEA. He established the Dominic Christian Scholarship, the purpose of which is to enable a student to study the MA degree course in Medieval History in the School of History.

Dominic will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.

Prof Jonathan Powell is a British television producer and executive, and UEA English Literature graduate. He is currently a Professor at Royal Holloway, University of London where he was, until recently, Head of the Department of Media Arts. In 1968, he began working in television drama with, amongst his best known work as producer, the Alec Guinness-starring BBC serials Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979), and its sequel Smiley's People (1982).

He has been Head of Drama Series and Serials at BBC Television, and later overall Head of Drama then Controller of BBC1. He remained controller of BBC1 until 1993, when he left the BBC to join the ITV company Carlton Television, where he became Director of Drama & Co-Production.

Jonathan will receive an honorary doctorate of letters.

The Rt Rev Lord Bishop of Norwich Graham James has been Bishop of Norwich since January 2000, and has been an active member of the House of Lords since 2004. He was Chair of the Ministry Division, which is responsible for the selection and training of all candidates for ordination, until 2012. In 2011 he was invited to join the Lords Select Committee on Communications and took up the responsibility as the Church of England’s Lead Spokesman on Media Issues.

The Lord Bishop has also been a Board Member of the Countryside Agency and has been very involved in rural issues. He is a patron or president of more than thirty organisations and is involved in amateur dramatics, appearing on stage at the Theatre Royal and with Stephen Fry in Twelfth Night.

He will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.

Professor Susan Owens is a UEA graduate who is Professor of Environment and Policy at the University of Cambridge. She was a recipient of the Royal Geographical Society's Back Award in 2000, made an OBE in 1998, and a Fellow of the British Academy in 2011.

Susan will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science.