Fellowships for Jones and Sheen

10 July 2012

Michael Sheen
Michael Sheen

The actor Michael Sheen OBE and The One Show host Alex Jones were presented as Fellows of Aberystwyth University at the first of this year’s Graduation Ceremonies.

Professor Emeritus Elan Closs Stephens CBE, BBC Trustee for Wales and former Chair of S4C presented both and pre-recorded messages of acceptance and good wishes were played to members of the audience as neither was able to attend in person.

Presentation by Professor Stephens for Michael Sheen and Alex Jones.

“Fy mraint, gerbron Anrhydeddus Lywydd y Brifysgol a’r Is-Ganghellor, yw dweud gair am ddau sydd a chyfraniad arbennig ym myd ffilm a theledu. Michael Sheen and Alex Jones cannot be with us today but the President and Vice Chancellor have asked me to refer briefly to their achievements.

“Michael Sheen is one of the outstanding acting talents of his generation. He was brought up in Port Talbot, starred in his schooldays with the National Youth Theatre of Wales, studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.  In the Nineties, he worked predominantly in classical stage roles, in work by Shakespeare, Pinter, Chekhov, Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and played Mozart in Peter Hall Production’s Amadeus. His film breakthrough was the role of Tony Blair in Channel 4 The Deal, directed by Stephen Frears and it was Frears who directed him as Blair again in the hugely successful 2006 film The Queen. That film’s scriptwriter, Peter Morgan, persuaded him to take the role of Frost in Morgan’s Frost/Nixon at the Donmar which led to the surprising success of the widely praised film on Frost’s interviews with Richard Nixon. Michael Sheen has also starred as Kenneth Williams (for which he lost two and a half stone!), and as Brian Clough in The Damned United. He has collected several Laurence Olivier Awards for his stage roles and BAFTAs for his films, and was awarded an OBE in 2009.

“In Wales, as well as being proud of Michael Sheen’s international achievements, we remember last year’s moving and triumphant The Passion, a 72 hour passion play at Easter in his native Port Talbot with over, 1,000 local amateur participants.  The performance was produced by National Theatre Wales with whom, I am proud to say, that our Department in Aberystwyth from which you graduate today, has a close creative collaboration.

“Symudaf ymlaen i lwyddiant Alex Jones, cyn fyfyrwraig yn yr Adran, merch o Rydaman, sydd yn gynnyrch addysg ddwyieithog yng Nghymru. Ar ol graddio yn yr Adran Astudiaethau Theatr Ffilm a Theledu yn Aberystwyth, treuliodd ddeuddeg mlynedd yn cael profiad o deledu byw ac yn gyflwynydd hoffus yn y Gymraeg ar raglenni plant, a rhaglenni teithio ar S4C, yn cynnwys Hip neu Sgip, Tocyn, Chwa.

“Alex Jones, presenter of the popular The One Show on BBC1, was a student of mine. From the beginning she was determined to make her way into television. After twelve years learning her trade in Welsh Language television on S4C, her first UK break came when, in July 2010, she replaced Christine Bleaklely on The One Show. Within a very short time, she had won her place in a world where public opinion of new presenters can be very brutal. She became part of the BBC team for the Royal Wedding and then in September 2011 she was popular and well known enough to be asked to enter the competition for Strictly Come Dancing, a hugely popular UK programme and a format sold globally by BBC Worldwide.  Although Alex was eliminated a week before the final, she established herself as a cherished household name and part of the BBC brand.

“Alex is not a story of reaching the top by accident or happenstance.  It is a story of hard work, learning where the cameras are, how to present, how to do that hardest of all tasks: how to be yourself in public.  It is the art that conceals the skills that you have learnt. The Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies is proud of Alex and what she has achieved.  Da iawn Alex!”

Eight new Fellows are being honoured by Aberystwyth University this year’s ceremonies which take place between Tuesday 10 and Friday 13 July.

The title of Fellow is awarded to honour distinguished people who have a close association with Aberystwyth University or who have made an outstanding contribution to professional or public life in Wales.

The 2012 Fellows are the actor Michael Sheen, TV presenter Alex Jones, Professor Michael Clarke, Director of the Royal United Services Institute, Mark Price, Managing Director of Waitrose, Dr Jan Jaroslav Pinkava, Oscar winner, Rev. John Gwilym Jones, Former Archdruid of Wales, Caitlin Moran, Broadcaster, TV critic and columnist, and Judge Sir David Lloyd Jones.

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Arthur Dafis
Communications and Public Affairs
01970 621763
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aid@aber.ac.uk