Writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg was born in Wigton, Cumbria, in 1939. He read modern history at Wadham College, Oxford, and then joined the BBC as a general trainee in 1961. Three years later, he was appointed editor of BBC2's first arts programme, First Release, and since then has become a pre-eminent figure in arts broadcasting in Britain - editing, producing and presenting a wealth of pioneering, award-winning television and radio programmes across the cultural spectrum.
As editor and presenter of The South Bank Show and controller of Arts for London Weekend Television, Melvyn Bragg is well known for his promotion - as well as his perceptive and critical analysis - of literature and the creative and performing arts; but he is also at ease in the worlds of science and social science.
In 1998 he presented the BBC Radio 4 series on the history of science, On Giants' Shoulders. In 1999, he chaired The Darwin Debate on BBC2, which looked at the significance of evolution theory for human society, and the 1999 Reith Lectures on globalisation and democracy. The breadth of his intellectual interests is apparent too in programmes such as his twenty-part history of Christianity on ITV, his radio series Start The Week (1988-98), The Routes of English and In Our Time (1998 - ).
Alongside his work in broadcasting, Melvyn Bragg has sustained a parallel career as a writer. He is the author of several screenplays, many works of non-fiction and more than a dozen novels: the first, For Want of a Nail, was published in 1965, and the latest, Remember Me, in 2008, is a sequence which began with The Soldiers Return, which won the WH Smith Literary Award for 2000.
Melvyn Bragg is president of the National Campaign for the Arts; he was made a life peer in 1998.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition for his role as a major cultural champion of science.
The Media Society Award for 2010 honoured his unique media career, and outstanding work as a journalist, broadcaster and author.
He was awarded a BAFTA Academy Fellowship in recognition of his distinguished broadcasting career, and joins a select group of individuals including Sir David Lean, Steven Spielberg and Dame Judi Dench.
The Chancellor can be contacted through the Secretary's office