Emma Thompson and mum get honorary Glasgow degrees

Emma Thompson and her mother Phyllida Law receive honorary degrees at  Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Picture: PA
Emma Thompson and her mother Phyllida Law receive honorary degrees at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Picture: PA
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EMMA Thompson said that receiving an honorary degree alongside her mother Phyllida Law was their “best starring role together”.

The acting duo were awarded honorary doctorates in drama from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) in Glasgow yesterday and joked that they would now demand to be addressed as doctors as they posed for photos in their graduation robes and signed autographs for fans.

Nanny McPhee star Thompson won an Oscar for her lead role in 1992’s Howards End and a second Academy Award in 1996 for best adapted screenplay for Sense And Sensibility.

The pair have starred in several films together, including The Winter Guest, which was set and filmed in Scotland, but they said sharing a stage at the RCS graduation topped the bill.

Thompson said: “It was so much fun. It’s our best starring role together, definitely.

“We’ve not received anything like this before and we both feel slightly fraudulent because when I told my son he asked, ‘How many essays did you have to right to get that?’

“So we feel really lucky that we now get to put ‘doctor’ in front of our names and pretend we’re important.

“We’ve both had so much work as actors and are still working, so to get a degree for it is great. I suppose in a sense it’s a reward for hanging in there. So many actors fall by the wayside so maybe this is recognition because we’re still going.”

Law said: “It’s certainly not for our looks. It’s a dreadful mistake to be born exquisitely beautiful because it wears off by 28. Thankfully we didn’t need to worry about that.”

Law, 81, who was born in Glasgow, will receive a second degree when she becomes an honorary doctor of letters from Glasgow Caledonian University later this week.

She said: “It’s great fun to be able to do this together, much better than collecting it on your own, and to get it in Glasgow is great.

“It’s quite silly that I’m getting another one but it means I’ll have two and Emma will be in the audience this time to see me.”

Thompson is married to Royal Conservatoire alumnus Greg Wise and said she is delighted to keep up the family tradition, even if her husband is not. “Greg graduated from here in the 80s or 90s and he’s spitting feathers at home because he had to do so much work and exams to get his degree and we just had to turn up to become doctors.”

The honours see the mother and daughter join the likes of singer Annie Lennox, comedian Billy Connolly and actor Tilda Swinton, who have all received honorary doctorates from the Conservatoire, previously the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Also receiving honorary doctorates yesterday were opera singer Patricia MacMahon and Jenny Sealy, a producer for the London 2012 Paralympics opening ceremony.