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Ken Loach in profile

Ken Loach Thursday 22 January 2015

Film and Television Director, Ken Loach, was awarded an honorary degree by Liverpool Hope at our Winter Graduation ceremony.

In his impassioned speech to his fellow graduates, he first thanks them for allowing him to be part of their day before going on to apologising for the "state" his generation had left the country in. He used to apposing quotes to demonstrate how we must all work together to better our society rather than only looking to self interest. He said: "Your neighbour is not your enemy or competitor but your comrade."

His first quote was from Alan Sugar who reportedly said: "There's nothing wrong with being greedy. If you're a businessman, that's what it's about." As the antithesis to this, Ken Loach quoted John Donne's poem No Man Is An Island.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee. 

Professor Nick Rees, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Liverpool Hope said: “I am delighted that Ken Loach has accepted the conferment of an honorary doctorate by Liverpool Hope University. He is a very worthy recipient of this award. The commentary within his films directly raises and addresses issues of social justice and marginalised people, which resonates with the University’s commitment to social justice and education in Liverpool and beyond.”

Professor Michael Lavalette, Head of Social Work at Liverpool Hope University, said: “Ken Loach is a very worthy recipient of an honorary degree. His work in the film industry has been driven by a sense of social justice and a commitment to understand the lives of vulnerable and those at the margins of society.

“On our social work programme we try to instil such values into our social work students. More generally, at Liverpool Hope we share Ken’s commitment to social justice. As professor of Social Work it was an honour to read the citation for Ken and welcome him into the Liverpool Hope family.”


Hear from our honorary degree recipients


Ken Loach in Profile

Ken Loach was born in 1936 in Nuneaton. He attended King Edward VI Grammar School and went on to study law at St. Peter's Hall, Oxford. 

After a brief spell in the theatre, Loach was recruited by the BBC in 1963 as a television director. This launched a long career, directing films for television and the cinema, from Cathy Come Home and Kes in the sixties to Land And Freedom and The Wind That Shakes The Barley. His other films include Up The JunctionPoor Cow, and Sweet Sixteen. 

Ken Loach has a long association with Liverpool, including Z CarsThe Golden Vision, and Riff Raff. He directed Crissy Rock in the acclaimed Ladybird, Ladybird, Ricky Tomlinson in Raining Stones, Ian Hart in Land And Freedom and Mark Womack and John Bishop in Route Irish. 

In 1996 he made The Flickering Flame, a documentary about the Liverpool Dockers’ Strike, an issue he first explored in 1968 when he made the fictional The Big Flame about a strike at the Liverpool docks which almost escalates into a working-class revolution.

In 2013, Senior Lecturer in History Dr Bryce Evans hosted the Liverpool launch of Ken Loach’s film about the foundation of the welfare state, The Spirit of '45, which included interviews with people from the city reflecting on Liverpool’s past. History and Politics and Media students from Liverpool Hope went along to FACT Liverpool for the launch, where they were able to ask Mr Loach questions about his work.

Ken Loach's honorary doctorate recognises his distinctive and humane artistic vision, which uses realism to bring to the forefront issues of social injustice. His work is known for his realism, and as such, he uses a mixture of professional and non-professional or relatively unknown actors, blending scripted dialogue with improvised lines.