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Ken Campbell

Actor turned director Ken Campbell performed in numerous television roles including In Sickness and in Health and Fawlty Towers, while also writing plays for worldwide audiences.

Ken was unable to attend the 2008 awards ceremony to receive the University’s highest honour after severe disruption on the railways scuppered his travel plans.

Ken died suddenly on September 1, only days after his last acclaimed performances as part of the Edinburgh festival.

His award – honorary Doctor of the University - was presented posthumously on the occasion of his funeral by Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Media and Design, Ann Parry.

The Ilford-born thespian had joined the Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, as an actor and resident dramatist in 1967. During his time there he wrote his own version of children’s classic Old King Cole.

"I was told I could write what I like so long as it had a famous title," said Ken. "I looked through nursery rhymes and came across Old King Cole and then gave it a Beano and Dandy feel. At the time it was a revolutionary children’s Christmas play as most were adaptations of Grimm tales or pantomimes."

Ken, with the help of fellow actors including Bob Hoskins, founded the Ken Campbell Roadshow, a small theatre group that toured unconventional venues and which became independent from the Bolton Octagon where it originally began as a means of promotion for the theatre.

He then went on to create the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool where he directed monumental epics such as the record-breaking cult hits The Warp, The War with the Newts and Illuminatus!, an eight and a half hour story based on The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea.

He gained international acclaim with the play Skungpoomery which was translated into German by F K Waechter, whose own play School for Clowns Ken later adapted to English.

Also famous for his one man shows, Ken won many awards for what he refers to as his "sit-down tragedies" including Furtive Nudist, and Jamais Vu which was named winner of the Evening Standard award for comedy in 1993.

Ken’s diversity showed further when he presented three science-based series on Channel 4 entitled Reality on the Rocks, Brainspotting and Six Experiments that Changed the World.

He leaves behind one daughter, two grandchildren three dogs, a parrot and an army of fans.

Photo of Ken Campbell

Ken Campbell was bestowed the award in 2008