Dr Frank Cottrell Boyce

Presented by Professor Frank Sanderson

Described by none other than Manchester legend Tony Wilson as "one of the great geniuses of British Cinema - one of my heroes",  and by film director and LJMU Fellow Alex Cox as "Britain's best and brightest screenwriter", Frank Cottrell Boyce is a screenwriter with a gift for good dialogue, whose films include Welcome to Sarajevo, Hilary and Jackie and 24 Hour Party People - the last-named film portraying the history of Factory Records and starring Steve Coogan as Anthony H Wilson. 

Earlier this year, his first book, Millions, was published. Later this year, it will be released on film, directed by Danny Boyle. 

Frank was born 43 years ago in Kirkdale, North Liverpool. His parents, Frank and Joan Boyce continue to be a major influence and have instilled in him the importance of lifelong learning - a principle very much promoted by LJMU. His father was a lecturer in continuing education at the University of Liverpool and his mother is a graduate of LJMU, completing an honours degree as a mature student in the 1980s.

When he was young, the family moved from Liverpool to nearby Rainhill. From there, Frank Junior attended West Park Grammar School where he did well enough to be accepted at Keble College Oxford to study for a degree in English.

During his gap year, he had a short-lived career as a Punch and Judy man's assistant, taking the show to parties and village fetes, and managing to make a fortune entirely in small change.

After completing an honours degree in English at Oxford, Frank stayed on to complete a Doctor of Philosophy thesis on Pamphleteers in the English Civil War.  

After Oxford, Frank began his career as a script-writer for soap-operas with Professor Phil Redmond's Mersey Television. From there he moved - or was sent, it's not clear which - to Thames Television, but moved onto film at the first opportunity - which came through Michael Winterbottom's Revolution Films Company which made the afore-mentioned films: Hilary and Jackie; Welcome to Sarejevo; and 24 hour Party People.

Frank Cottrell Boyce now lives in Blundellsands, a posh part of North Liverpool, with his wife and family of seven children. Not surprisingly, his domestic commitments, such beating his children at Monopoly, are considerable, but he still finds time for wider interests, although, sadly, his active political involvement is in abeyance. His social conscience means that he has a natural tendency to be politically active somewhat to the left of centre, but the contemporary political landscape leaves him bemused. He is not alone in asking, "Who on earth do you support these days?"

He is in fact a life-long supporter of Liverpool FC but, typically, when asked to name a sporting hero, he doesn't mention the usual suspects such as Kenny Dalglish or Michael Owen. He nominates a relatively unsung hero, Roly Howard, a 68 year-old window cleaner who has managed Marine FC since 1972 over the course of nearly 2000 league games - making him the longest serving football manager in the world.

But Frank's greatest hero and influence is undoubtedly cartoon character, Wile E. Coyote, who he describes as: "constantly inventive and hopeful in the face of his inevitable failure to catch the roadrunner, endlessly inventive despite the unworthiness of his object. Does this bother the Coyote? No. A hero to all those who are better than they need to be"

Frank does manage to find the time to take an active interest in the local community:

  • He is a trustee of the Crosby Plaza Cinema
  • He is a Director of Archer Street Films
  • And he's working on a comedy feature film located in the Bootle area of North Liverpool

It is widely recognised that if Liverpool is once again to thrive economically and be fully able to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by Capital of Culture status, then it must be able to retain and attract talented people. Frank Cottrell Boyce could have taken his talent anywhere in the world, but, along with others such as Alex Cox and Professor Phil Redmond, he has chosen to base himself on Merseyside to add weight to the burgeoning local creative industries. We wish him well. 

We are proud to acknowledge Frank Cottrell Boyce as a major local talent, a screenwriter of great ability and promise who is making and will continue to make an outstanding contribution to the reputation of Liverpool and the region as a centre for film-making.

Thus I have pleasure in presenting Dr Frank Cottrell Boyce, this distinguished son of our region for the award of our highest honour of Fellow of this University.