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Alun Armstrong picks up UEA degree

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:56 06 July 2010

The star of TV show New Tricks chewed over some old memories of Norfolk yesterday as he picked up an honorary degree at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The star of TV show New Tricks chewed over some old memories of Norfolk yesterday as he picked up an honorary degree at the University of East Anglia.

Veteran character actor Alun Armstrong donned gown and mortar board to pick up his honorary doctorate of letters.

The 62-year-old, who is currently starring in BBC comedy-drama New Tricks and has a host of other TV, film and stage credits behind him, including Little Dorrit and Our Friends in the North, told of his fondness for the county.

He said: "I had two successes with Arthur Miller plays - The Crucible and Death of a Salesman - and through my association with Arthur I came to know the university."

Miller was given the honour

of freedom of the city of Norwich

in 2000, 11 years after he came to

UEA to open the Arthur Miller Centre, set up to bring a greater understanding of American culture to Britain.

Mr Armstrong said: "When he got freedom of the city I came to Norwich to celebrate with him."

However, his first memory of the county goes back 50 years to when he and a friend were put on a train at Newcastle and arrived on their own at Norwich Station aged 12 to go to a school camp at Loddon.

He said: "I guess it must have been a more innocent age then."

The North Easterner, who made his acting breakthrough in Get Carter in the 1970s, having spent time as a gravedigger, said his next trip to Norwich was in the 1970s.

He said: "I came back to the city

to play the lead in the premiere of

the Willy Russell play Dennis

the Menace. It was a memorable

time for me.

"It was the first time I had the headline role in a commercial play. There was a lot of pressure on me and I was quite terrified. I learnt something in the first few seconds.

"It was the gap between one's expectations and fears and what actually happened. It was a comedy and the first line was a funny line. I got a laugh and that was it - I was immediately in love with the

play and with the theatre."

He said he "loved" playing Brian Lane in New Tricks, which has just begun its sixth series. He said: "We all get along fine and it's funny. It's a great set-up."

Mr Armstrong said picking up the degree was "more nerve-racking" than acting.

He said: "It's not the sort of thing actors are used to. It's different. You are writing the script as well as delivering it."

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