Sunday, 2 September 2012

A roll-call of English graduates

I was just wondering how different the Tempest-themed Olympics Opening Ceremony might have been if it hadn't been masterminded by two English graduates: the director Danny Boyle (Bangor) and the writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Oxford). And so, in a bored moment, I started putting keyword phrases (eg "English Literature graduate", "graduated in English" etc.) into various subscription newspaper databases, and came up with the list of English graduates below. Obviously, in the nature of the exercise it's slanted towards people in the public eye and I gave up counting writers, journalists and media people after a while as there were too many of them. But it does give some idea of the varied careers to which a non-specialist degree like English can lead. Oh, OK, interest declared - I teach in an English department ...

Mark Kermode, film critic (Manchester)
Frank Skinner, comedian (Birmingham Poly, now Birmingham City University; MA from Warwick)
Stuart Maconie, writer and broadcaster (Edge Hill College, now University)
Sarah Waters, novelist (Kent; PhD in gay and lesbian historical fiction, University of Lancaster)
Iain Glen, actor (Aberdeen)
David Bentley, former Bishop of Gloucester (Leeds)
Helen Bailey, opera singer (Liverpool John Moores)
Adrian Chiles, TV presenter (Queen Mary, University of London)

Jack Schofield, Guardian computer editor (Birmingham)
Clare Balding, broadcaster (Cambridge)
Frankie Boyle, comedian (Sussex)
Martin Fry, lead singer, ABC (Sheffield)
Jeremy Vine, Radio 2 presenter (Durham)
Simon Russell Beale, actor (Cambridge)
Richard Hopkins, TV producer (Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing) (University College London)
Lenny Henry (Open University; now studying for PhD)
Andy Hornby, former chief executive of HBOS, now chief executive of the bookmakers Coral (Oxford)
Tony Cohen, chief executive of Fremantle Media (X Factor, The Apprentice, Britain's Got Talent) (Oxford)
Pippa Middleton, party planner (Edinburgh)
Meera Syal, actor and writer (English and Drama, Manchester)
Mark Knopfler, musician (Leeds)
Deborah Leary, entrepreneur (Birmingham City)
Gavin Esler, BBC journalist (Kent)

Dan Stevens, Downton Abbey actor and Booker Prize judge (Cambridge)
Vanessa Feltz, Radio 2 presenter (Cambridge)
Corinne Bailey Rae, singer and musician (Leeds)
Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health (Cambridge)
Tim Waterstone, bookseller (Cambridge)
Philip Hampton, chairman, Royal Bank of Scotland (Oxford)

Kaddy Benyon, poet (Liverpool John Moores)
Hugh Grant, actor (Oxford)
Clive Barker, horror writer (Liverpool)
Ian (Lord) Blair, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner (Oxford)
Charlotte Green, BBC radio newsreader (Kent)
Colin Greenwood, member of Radiohead (Cambridge)
Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye (Oxford)
Sally Lindsay, actor (Hull)
Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party (Exeter)
Jennie Page, former CEO of the Millennium Dome (Royal Holloway, London)
Christopher Nolan, film director (University College London)
Bill Oddie, comedian, TV presenter, birder (Cambridge)
Dominic West, actor (Trinity College Dublin)  
Anthony Julius, QC (Cambridge; PhD from University College London).
Frances Barber, actor (Bangor)
Jemima Khan, writer and campaigner (Bristol)
Russell Norman, chef and restaurateur (Sunderland Poly, now University)
Julie Walters (English and Drama, Manchester Poly, now Manchester Met).
Dianne Thompson, CEO, Camelot (English and French, Manchester Poly, now Manchester Met)
Fiona Phillips, TV presenter (Birmingham Poly, now Birmingham City University)
Manish Bhasin, BBC sports presenter (Anglia Polytechnic University)
Lavinia Greenlaw, poet (Kingston Poly, now University)
Chris Clough, TV producer (Brookside, Eastenders, Skins) (Leeds)
Mark Cocker, author and naturalist (University of East Anglia)
Chris Tarrant, TV presenter (Birmingham)
Russell Kane, comedian (Middlesex)
Tracey Thorn, musician, Everything But the Girl (Hull; MA from Birkbeck)
Rick Stein, chef and restaurateur (Oxford)
Michael Gove, MP, Secretary of State for Education (Oxford)
Peter Lord, co-founder of Aardman Animations (York)
Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England (Birmingham)
Phil Selway, Radiohead drummer (Liverpool Poly, now John Moores)
Phyllida Lloyd, theatre and film director (Birmingham)


  1. I want to thank you for providing this useful information about web services!

  2. Not too chuffed about Pippa Middleton, party-planner, and Chris Tarrant as fellow English graduates but at least Michael Gove isn't in the list. Why not try the same exercise with even more derided degree courses like Media Studies and Drama?

  3. Bugger! I've just re-read the list and Gove is there!

  4. Well that makes me feel a lot better as a MA graduate who cant find a job at the moment. At least there's hope