UWE awards honorary degree to Mike Hodges

Issue date: 03 November 2005

Issue date: 3 November 2005

The University of the West of England is awarding the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters to Michael Tommy Hodges in recognition of his outstanding and nationally significant contributions to cultural progress and understanding, particularly through his film and television work. The honorary degree will be conferred at the Award Ceremony of the Faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences on Monday 7 November at 14.45 at Bristol Cathedral.

Mike Hodges is a well known and highly respected film maker who has played a major role in the development of British cinema. He was born in Bristol and raised there and in Salisbury, attending boarding school at Prior Park College in Bath. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant and in 1955 was called up for National Service. Having refused a commission, he served below deck in the Fisheries Protection Squadron during the Cod Wars. This gave him experience of the violence and impoverishment found in British fishing ports and contributed to his ability to capture such things in his later films.

A chance meeting in the early 1960s with the Executive Producer of ABC’s Armchair Theatre led to Mike Hodges writing Some Will Cry Murder, a television drama about euthanasia. His further writing included the children’s television series Once Upon A Time and a documentary about designing and marketing women’s products, entitled Catching a Woman’s Eye. He was appointed editor of ABC’s Sunday Break and after making The British Way of Death, a documentary about funeral directors, was hired as a producer/director for ITV’s World in Action. Between 1963 and 1965 he made documentary programmes on the Vietnam War, the US Presidential elections, pirate radio ships, the state of the unions and Freemasonry. Mike Hodges also revitalised ITV’s arts programme Tempo and produced the more experimental New Tempo.

Mike Hodges returned to children’s television as producer/director of the six-part The Tyrant King (1968) and then moved into adult drama as writer/director/producer of two dramas: Suspect (1969), the first filmed drama on commercial television, and Rumour (1970) for Thames Television’s Playhouse. In 1971, the film Get Carter was released: regarded as a classic, it draws on the documentary techniques Hodges used in television to tell a crime story about urban corruption. This was followed by Pulp (1972), The Terminal Man (1974) and Flash Gordon (1980). Other films followed, including Morons from Outer Space (1985), A Prayer for the Dying (1987), Black Rainbow (1989), Croupier (1998) and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003). Major retrospectives of his work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles and the German Cinematheque in Munich.

In 1985, Mike Hodges wrote and directed his play Soft Shoe Shuffle at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London. This was followed by Shooting Stars and Other Heavenly Pursuits. In the 1990s, he returned to television with the LWT drama, Dandelion Dead, and the BBC drama, The Healer. He has also written and directed two radio plays for the BBC; the last, King Trash, was broadcast earlier this year.


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