WHEN leaving university with a qualification in Welfare Law back in the early 80s, comedian, TV presenter and lifelong Boro fan Bob Mortimer could not have dreamt of what was to follow.
The once solicitor has gone on to win multiple awards thanks to his famous partnership with Vic Reeves, whom Bob met in a London pub in 1986.
Hits like Shooting Stars, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer and Bang Bang It’s Reeves and Mortimer have earned Bob a place in British comedy history, and now he has been awarded with an honorary degree by Teesside University on November 28.
Speaking about being named among nine degree recipients, Bob said: “It’s great. I love Middlesbrough, for better or for worse.
“It’s where I was brought up, so if I had to choose a university to be honoured by, it would be without any doubt Teesside.”
The news came out of the blue for 55-year-old Bob who discovered that he would be taken to the Town Hall stage for graduation in the middle of filming the second series of House of Fools.
Being honoured by his hometown ranks highly in Bob’s career, and the former Grove Hill bin-man said he wanted to thank the people of Middlesbrough.
“I really like the people from Middlesbrough. I still know a lot of people there and I think they’re really good people,” said Bob.
“I know the honour doesn’t come from them and it actually comes from the university, but I’d like to think it comes from them.”
Having performed with Vic since the mid-eighties, Bob has shared the stage with his partner-in-crime for most of his career, but he says there are not any nerves ahead of the ceremony.
“I’m not nervous about accepting the award because I don’t think my brief is to be entertaining.
“I think it’s more to be inspirational to the students there who are graduating with their degrees.
“Let’s be honest though, I’m a just a daft a*** so I haven’t really got anything in my locker, but I’ll give it a go.”
The special day is shared with other graduates from Teesside University’s School of Arts and Media, who have studies in Television and Film Production, Media Studies and Performing Arts amongst others.
Bob formed Pett Productions, an independent, regional production company in 2001 alongside Vic and entertainment producer Lisa Clark, and is still working towards giving young talent a helping hand.
He said: “I have tried in a tiny way with the BBC to help some people from Teesside who are interested in TV and that.
“I meet quite a lot of people who studied at Teesside. I just did a show called Drifters and that was directed by a lad who graduated here about four years ago.
“I did some work with Middlesbrough FC and the lad who’s doing the media there, Alex Larkin, and he’s graduating this year.
“That was all in the last six months so I’ve come across people from the area that are really making a go for it.”
Bob is currently filming the new series of House of Fools after it was commissioned for a second series earlier this year.
The BBC sitcom features Vic and Bob playing themselves and they are joined by Bosh (Dan Skinner), Beef (Matt Berry), Julie (Morgana Robinson) and Bob’s son Erik (Daniel Simonsen).
Speaking after a day of filming, Bob said: “It feels a lot better than the first series for us.
“It’s the first time we have ever done a sitcom so you learn a lot. We make mistakes but we think the second series is a lot more professional.
“We have a Christmas episode coming out and in that my son, Erik, requires a particular bobble hat for his present and we discover the only person who owns this hat is Phil Collins.”
Acklam-born Bob says he asked Dan Skinner to put on a full Teesside accent for the character Bosh, one similar to that of the infamous Boro Tin Tin YouTube videos.
“We didn’t ask him to copy Tin Tin but we wanted a full on Middlesbrough one. He tries his best because he’s a posh lad really.”
Growing up in the North East has obviously had an influence on Bob’s comedy and he has declared the people of Middlesbrough the funniest he’s ever met.
Bob added: “I think we have a lovely sense of humour up there. I go to most of the Boro away matches with my two boys and we laugh our heads off all the way through at the Middlesbrough lads.”