TWO graduates who went on to make their mark in television have been given honorary degrees by Durham University
Radio and television presenter Jeremy Vine, who gained an English degree at Durham’s Hatfield College in 1986, is an honorary Doctor of Civil Law.
Blue Peter producer Biddy Baxter, who graduated in social studies from the then all-women St Mary’s College in 1955, is an honorary Doctor of Letters.
Jeremy, 47, said his days at the university were some of the happiest of his life, and he might have remained in the area had he not been rejected for a job as a trainee reporter at a Newcastle newspaper.
“There were only a few thousand students in those days,” he said. “I was in halls at Hatfield in the centre of Durham and it was pre-Facebook, so you went out drinking and socialising and got to know everyone.
“I remember one of my friends, now a prominent lawyer, decided to hit a golf ball over Durham Cathedral.
“His first shot hit the side of the building between two stained glass windows.
“Undeterred, he tried again, and the ball went over, although I don’t know what happened to it on the other side.
“I couldn’t recommend anyone try that today, but it illustrates what fun times we had,”
Biddy Baxter was greeted by vice-chancellor Professor Chris Higgins, who unearthed his Blue Peter badge for the occasion.
“That was a kind gesture and typical of Durham,” said Biddy, 78. “I made all my closest friends during three blissful years here.
“Many of us had boyfriends at the religious colleges of John’s or Chad’s, and we would travel to the outlying villages on Sunday to hear them preach.
“It was a culture shock for someone like me from the affluent Midlands.
“Living conditions were primitive, but I had many wonderful high teas inside those small homes.
“Rationing was still in operation, so the food was hugely appreciated by us.
“I am overjoyed to be back in Durham all these years later to receive this honour.”