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Graduations 2023: Billy Elliot writer receives Honorary Award

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Published: 9 November 2023

Honorary Lee Hall

Born in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1966, Lee Hall has established himself as a highly acclaimed writer across various mediums including theatre, TV, radio, and film. Notably recognised for his outstanding works like Billy Elliot and renowned screenplay contributions to films like Rocketman, The Pitmen Painters, and War Horse. 

During his early years, Lee was surrounded by a working-class society focused on industries like ship-building and heavy manufacturing. Despite the significant decline of these sectors in the 1980s within the north-east of England, Lee observed that the culture remained just as vibrant as ever. In fact, he described it as “a fountain of cultural inspiration”.

Honorary Lee Hall

Lee’s inspiration and dedication helped him take his first step into the world of theatre where he started to act, write, and create music with youth theatres across the north-east. During his journey, he realised that the north-east was “artistically underrepresented” nationally. The “culturally rich” north-east would eventually take Lee to his goal of writing the story of a working-class boy from the industrial north-east who aspired to become a ballet dancer – Billy Elliot.

The University of Sunderland in London celebrate Lee Hall’s success in Southwark Cathedral. This iconic venue is conveniently situated near the renowned Globe Theatre, that have been home to the unforgettable plays of William Shakespeare.

Lee Hall is the first person to receive an Honorary degree at the Southwark Cathedral, celebrating an incredible graduation ceremony and a special moment for the University of Sunderland in London.

Honorary Lee Hall

“The honorary award is a recognition of what I’ve done in my career, but also a recognition of the work, community, and aspiration of north-east culture. The award is both individual and collective.”

Lee Hall is a creative visionary with a catalyst for change. Today he has been awarded with the Honorary Doctorate of Arts in recognition of his unparalleled contributions to the realm of arts and culture. This honorary award serves as a recognition that Lee's creative prowess has left an incredible mark on the north-east and global audiences alike. His dedication to championing a vibrant culture is unmatched; through his work, he has harnessed cultural expression, breathing life into historical narratives. Through compelling storytelling and exciting characters, he inspires us all to harness our own creativity and manifest it as a driving force in writing history.

Watch the special moment Lee Hall receives his Honorary award at our Autumn graduation ceremony 2023.

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