Writer Armando Iannucci thrilled to receive honorary degree

Writer Armando Iannucci thrilled to receive honorary degree

Writer and satirist Armando Iannucci has said it is a “delight, an honour, a thrill” to be awarded an honorary degree by one of the UK’s oldest universities.

The Thick of It creator has been given the honour by the University of St Andrews in Fife in recognition of the impact his work has had on stage and screen, and in public discourse, across four decades.

Iannucci, originally from Glasgow, has won numerous awards for his television work, which has also included The Day Today and Veep, while he co-created the character Alan Partridge with actor Steve Coogan.

He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) by university principal Professor Dame Sally Mapstone in a ceremony at the Younger Hall in St Andrews on Thursday.

Addressing students who had graduated earlier in the ceremony, he said it was an honour to be part of their day, ending with Partridge’s “ah ha!” catchphrase.

He said: “It’s a delight, an honour, a thrill to be given this award. My real honour, really, is to be a tiny, tiny part of this kind of concluding day, of what I hope has been a fantastic experience of your time in university that will affect you for the rest of your lives, thank you very much and ah ha!”

Speaking after the ceremony, he told the PA news agency: “I’m always surprised that you can get an honour for writing jokes, but I’m happy to take it.

“I’ve gone through my career with imposter syndrome thinking ‘I’m not really working, am I?’, so it’s nice to be acknowledged that I have been.”

Iannucci’s films have also been met with critical acclaim, including the multi-award-winning Death of Stalin and Oscar-nominated In the Loop, which featured the spin doctor Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It.

He said he thinks the character would be getting “quite frustrated” if watching the current General Election campaign.

Writer Armando Iannucci and University of St Andrews principal Professor Dame Sally Mapstone smile while posing for photographers after the graduation ceremony
Iannucci with principal Professor Sally Mapstone (Jane Barlow/PA)

Iannucci said: “I think Malcolm – if he was watching the election – would be chomping at the bit to get out there and tell various people what to say because my feeling is that a lot of things are being unsaid during this election, no discussion about Brexit, no discussion about benefits from immigration, no discussion, it’s all about tax cuts, whereas in fact people want improvements to our public services and lots of those topics seem to be put to one side during this election, so I think he’d be getting quite frustrated.”

The writer, director and film-maker is currently working on a stage adaptation of Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr Strangelove.

He said: “It’s one of my favourite films but also I’m very mindful of the fact it’s the first time the Kubrick family and estate have allowed one of his projects to be adapted, so it’s great fun working on it and getting to work again with Steven Coogan very closely.”

Professor Stephen Gethins, assistant vice principal of the university, praised Iannucci as he invited Dame Sally to confer the honour on him during the ceremony.

He said: “Armando’s work has been hugely influential, enriching to our public discourse, shining a light on governance, informing the viewer.

“Always whip smart, never self congratulatory, always entertaining and above all always very funny, that he can make us think while making us laugh is on its own worthy of the highest honour.

“In recognition of his major contribution to entertainment and our national discourse, I invite you to confer the honour of Doctor of Letters on Armando Iannucci.”

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