COMEDIAN Eddie Izzard has been honoured by Sunderland University for his contribution to the entertainment world.
The funnyman and actor received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in recognition of his innovative work, as well as his commitment to the European political agenda and his support for charities.
He said: “It’s wonderful to be here in Sunderland and to receive an honorary doctorate. I have just flown into the region from America, where we are filming in Hollywood, but of course it’s far more glamorous to be here.
“I have always found Sunderland a hugely vibrant city whenever I have done gigs at the Sunderland Empire.
“It really does not matter which city we are in in the UK, it’s the vibrant spirit of the people who really make a place what it is.
“It’s incredibly inspiring to be here and I just want to encourage people and children growing up in Sunderland to see that if I can do it, you can also go off and do things like I have in my life.
“I love to be inspired and when I was growing up I was inspired by people like the University’s Chancellor Steve Cram, who was one of the first people to know I was going to run my 43 marathons.
“My advice to girls and boys growing up now is that no matter what happens just keeping doing what you love, and invent things. It’s what life is all about.”
Eddie is one of the foremost stand-up comedians of his generation and has won two Emmy Awards during his career.
Since his first stage appearance in London’s West End in 1993, Eddie has repeatedly sold out shows across the world as well as broken box office records in the UK and America.
He is one of only a handful of comedians to perform at the Madison Square Garden Arena in New York.
He has appeared in a number of films such as Valkyrie, Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen and Cars 2.
On television, he has had many roles, perhaps most famously playing Long John Silver in the 2011 mini-series Treasure Island.
He is also an accomplished stage actor, winning a Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in the 2003 Broadway Revival of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.
Last year, he publicly announced his desire to be an MP, MEP or Mayor by 2020 and is a keen supporter of the Labour Party.
In 2009, Eddie ran 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief, raising £1.85million.
This year, Eddie has set himself a new challenge, running 27 marathons in 27 days in honour of the 27 years Nelson Mandela spent in prison.
Among the other honoraries receiving awards this week are ITV News at Ten presenter Alastair Stewart, Olympian Charlie Spedding and artist Norman Cornish.
This year’s annual awards ceremonies are the biggest in the University of Sunderland’s 111-year history.
Over five days, 3,218 students from 68 countries, from Nepal to Uzbekistan, will graduate from the Stadium of Light watched by 8,786 guests, with 289 staff cheering on the class of 2012.