Kenneth Branagh Receives an Honorary Degree
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From the BBC, 2 September 2001
Shakespearean Honour for Branagh
Harriet Walter was honoured along with Kenneth Branagh
Actor and director Kenneth Branagh has been honoured by the University of Birmingham for his
popularisation of Shakespeare.
The film and stage star received an honorary degree on Sunday from the University of Birmingham's Shakespeare Institute as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.
Branagh, who is well known for his Shakespearean roles on stage and screen, often consults the Institute during his projects. Accepting the award he said he was "truly touched and humbled" to be recognised for his work.
Actress Harriet Walter also received an honorary doctorate at a ceremony at Stratford-upon-Avon. Walter said she was "thrilled to bits" and despite never going to university, now had letters after her name.
A university spokeswoman said Branagh had done much to bring Shakespeare into the public sphere. "Shakespeare was always intended to be performed in the vulgar market place," she said. "Nowadays, that would be film. "It was never meant to be an expensive highbrow activity - that's certainly why he (Branagh) is being honoured."
Branagh himself joked about his Shakespearean activities. "Acting is largely a matter of shouting in tights," he said. "Shakespeare was a great psychologist as well as an entertainer," he added on a more serious note.
Branagh has directed four feature films of Shakespeare plays: Henry V (1989), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996) and Love's Labour's Lost (2000) - and he also appeared in Oliver Parker's film of Othello as Iago.
From Ananova, 2 September 2001
Branagh Receives University Honour
Kenneth Branagh has been recognised for his work promoting the plays of William Shakespeare. The actor and director, and actress Harriet Walter received an honorary doctorate of literature from the University of Birmingham.
They became Doctor of Letters as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the university's Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. The Institute was set up in the Bard's home town in 1951.
Accepting the award, Branagh said he was "truly touched and humbled" to be recognised for his work. "Acting is largely a matter of shouting in tights," he joked. "Shakespeare was a great psychologist as well as an entertainer. The Shakespeare Institute has helped the glory of Shakespeare and exposure of his words."
Miss Walter said she was "thrilled to bits" and, despite not going to university, now had letters after her name.
Branagh's film and stage credits include interpretations of Shakespeare's Henry V, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and Love's Labours Lost. He regularly consults the Shakespeare Institute for information and advice when working on Shakespearean projects.