News | Friday, 7th July 2006

‘Shameless’ creator is awarded honorary degree

Faculty also honours Dame Alexandra Burslem

ACCLAIMED dramatist and television writer Paul Abbott is to be awarded an honorary degree from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Abbott, who penned Shameless, Clocking Off and State of Play, will receive an honorary Doctorate in Arts at the annual graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Humanities, Law and Social Science at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on Friday, July 14.

A versatile and socially-aware writer, Paul Abbott also takes a keen interest in young writers, having a close working relationship with MMU’s Department of English and its outreach group, the Manchester Association for Creative Writing.

Head of English at MMU, Professor Sue Zlosnik, said: "Paul has become one of the most influential writers of his generation in British television. This award Doctor of Arts Honoris Causa is offered in recognition of this contribution to contemporary television drama both as a writer and producer."

Inspired by his English teacher

Paul Abbott was born into a large, working-class family on an estate in Burnley and was brought up by his older sister when both parents left home. By 15 he was depressed, suicidal and briefly sectioned before being inspired by his English teacher to publishing short stories for local newspapers. In 1982 he had a radio play accepted by the BBC and the following year landed a job as a story editor on Coronation Street.

With his background Paul was able to produce honest depictions of northern life, and later wrote and produced on Cracker with Jimmy McGovern. His thriller series Touching Evil and romantic drama Reckless were nominated for Royal Television Society and Writers Guild awards. Clocking Off, in 2000, established Abbott’s reputation and won BAFTAs and a RTS award.

His most important work to date is Shameless, the semi-autobiographical series, again set in the North of England and starring David Threlfall, the MMU School of Theatre graduate.

Added Professor Zlosnik: "Paul’s catalogue of work shows that there is still a place for original drama in television and has brought working class voices and lives to the small screen in a way that is comparable with the ‘angry young men’ and ‘kitchen sink’ dramas of the 1960s.

Role model for youngsters

"The critical acclaim accorded to his work comes from his ability to truly reflect part of the social realism of life in Britain."

Last year MMU’s Department of English enlisted Paul’s help to get youngsters in Manchester schools interested in writing drama and novels through the MMU-founded Manchester Association for Creative Writing.

MMU honorary degrees also go to:

Dame Alexandra Burslem, DBE – former Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University for her contribution to higher education and the University.

Nighat Awan, OBE, the Asian businesswomean behind the Shere Khan restaurant/brand, who suffers motor neurone paralysis and entered the world of business aged 18 printing Bay City Rollers T-shirt for her dad. (Doctor of Business Administration)

Stephen Hodder, MBE, the city architect, a graduate of MMU's Manchester School of Architecture, who won the RIBA/Sunday Times Building of the Year award for the Centenary Building, Salford University. (Doctor of Arts)

Mary Dodd, FCPS, the renowned physiotherapist in recognition of her research into the benefits of exercise and sport in the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis. (Doctor of Science)

Ms Fadela Amara, Founder of French civil rights movement ‘Neither Whores, Nor Submissive’ for her work to end ‘honour killings’ and violence against women. (Doctor of Business)

Sir Philip Craven, MBE, president of the International Paralympic Committee and member of the IOC board for his work to develop British paralympic sport. (Doctor of Science)

Paul Walsh, Chief Executive, Diageo plc, for his contribution to business leadership and his inspirational management. (Doctor of Business Administration)

Mike Turner, CBE, Chief Executive of BAe Systems for his contribution to the development of the aerospace industry. (Doctor of Business Administration)

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