Presented by Professor Frank Sanderson
Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Pauline Daniels for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
Birkenhead-born Pauline Daniels made her name as Britain's best female stand-up comedian, noted for her spot-on comic timing. Progressively, she has extended her range as an entertainer to great effect, achieving acclaim as an actress and singer on the stage and on television.
This consummate performer now finds time through her ownership and management of the Actor's Studio on Seel Street to feature in her own productions and provide great opportunities for emerging local talent. She is convinced that no other city has such a concentration of creative talent and has begun running comedy classes from the Studio.
She proudly pronounced during last year's Capital of Culture celebrations, "Look out World, we are on the up. We are brimming with culture, but we have something no other city has … Scousers".
Scousers she describes as "friendly, helpful, funny - and bloody good at football".
Pauline Daniels was born in Birkenhead in June 1955, the only child of Charles and Doreen - Charles and Doreen, together with Pauline's daughter Sarah are here today to share in the occasion.
After Mersey Park junior school Pauline attended Prenton Park Secondary school in the late 60s, and despite the strict atmosphere she had a happy time there. She does however recall with some satisfaction that the headmistress wrongly predicted, "you'll never get anywhere in life young lady by being a clown".
Pauline has proved her emphatically wrong, and when she took over the Actor's Studio on Seel Street in 2007, she emphasised the point, "I always wanted to join the circus and now I have."
After leaving school at sixteen, Pauline wanted to be an actress but with no means of supporting herself through theatre school, she bluffed her way into a succession of office jobs, but her bluff was called when she took a job as a telex operator and was put in a room with a telex machine but with no idea as to how the telex machine actually worked.
Her first experience as an entertainer was in her early 20s as a singer in a Wallasey-based Trio. One night, a sore throat restricted her singing and so she told a few jokes to such good effect that jokes became an important part of the act. Then came the first of many stage roles - at the Liverpool Playhouse as Mama Morton in Chicago in 1986, followed by Rose in Gypsy at the same venue.
After a variety of musical, comedy and straight roles, she began her legendary run as Willy Russell's favourite Shirley Valentine in 1992 and has continued to play the definitive Shirley all over the country, recently at her own Actor's Studio.
Pauline has put her great singing voice to good use, performing with the Liverpool Philharmonic on several occasions and made her West-End debut in 1999, starring as Faye Bogle in the smash-hit musical "A Saint She Ain't" where she very effectively parodied Mae West - for whom she has a great respect and affection.
In 2002 she starred with Jo Monro and Sam Kane in the musical comedy Women on the Verge of HRT which she expects will tour in the near future. And Pauline's impressive range as an actress was movingly demonstrated in the play Unprotected at the Everyman in 2006 when she played the mother of a murdered Liverpool prostitute, a performance which won her huge plaudits.
Pauline has made numerous television appearances: she was in Carla Lane's Bread and Phil Redmond's Brookside where she played Maria Benson in a twelve month run. And notably, Pauline was the first and only female comic to feature in ITV's The Comedians.
She also had a two-year spell co-presenting with Roger Phillips on Radio Merseyside. Roger describes Pauline as 'always kind, always positive and always great fun', remembering with affection the time they were in the Everyman production of Elsie and Norm's Macbeth.
Recently, the ever-busy Pauline starred in several productions at her Actor's Studio, including a production of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads, and at the Royal Court in Dirty Dusting. She will play the leading role in Helen Forrester's tale of a family fallen on hard times, Twopence to Cross the Mersey, when it returns to the Empire this autumn. And then Panto at the Floral Pavillion New Brighton where she will play the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
At the Actor's Studio, Pauline is not only the theatre manager, box-office receptionist, artistic director and publicity officer but she also answers the phone.
During the sell-out run of Shirley Valentine, Pauline picked up the phone and the caller said, 'I believe Pauline is very good in it . . . she got ten out of ten in the ECHO'. And Pauline, not normally one to blow her own trumpet, replied, 'Well, that's a pretty good recommendation, madam'."
Joe Riley describes her as "the best ever Shirley Valentine", Peter Grant marvels at her effortless communication with her audiences, and Spencer Leigh has applauded her strength as an actress, noting in one production that she transformed herself so well that he felt that another actress had come onto the stage.
Pauline is frequently involved in raising funds for worthy causes, on several occasions playing Shirley Valentine in aid of charities. She has given her support to Age Concern and many local cancer-related charities such as the Lily Centre, Jospice, The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and The Linda McCartney Centre.
She is also a passionate community activist for regeneration and improvement of her Everton neighbourhood - she believes opportunities for neighbourhood regeneration were missed because of the concentration of funding in the city centre for Capital of Culture Year.
She did however find the year itself fantastic, bringing a buzz to the city she'd never known, despite being opened by someone she describes as "the worst drummer in the world". "Being born on the other side of the water doesn't stop me being proud of this great city of which I have become an adopted daughter and a semi-skilled scouser," she says.
Pauline Daniels loves Liverpool and Liverpool loves Pauline Daniels. And today we are delighted to show our appreciation for this true professional, this multi-talented comedienne, actress, and singer for her outstanding and on-going contribution to the performing arts.
Thus I have great pleasure in presenting Pauline Daniels, this most distinguished adopted daughter of our city, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.