Stars of ‘Still Game’, an actor, musician, and a mountaineer awarded honorary degrees from Queen Margaret University

Graduation audiences in Edinburgh were given an extra surprise yesterday as Still Game favourites and a former Scotland rugby player were handed honorary degrees.

Jane McCarry, who plays Isa Drennan in Still Game.
Jane McCarry, who plays Isa Drennan in Still Game.

Queen Margaret University awarded Jane McCarry and Mark Cox, best known for playing the busybody, Isa Drennan, and the tight-fisted old miser, Tam Mullen, in the much loved Scottish TV comedy series ‘Still Game’ the degrees at the Usher Hall, which saw them granted the title Doctor of the University.

Having been honoured for the memorable contribution they have made to the cultural life of Scotland, the duo went on to entertain the audience with their comedy banter, whilst regaling them with tales of their experiences on stage and screen, and their student days studying acting at Queen Margaret.

Playing two of Scotland’s most iconic characters in the BBC sitcom Still Game, which aired between 2002 and 2019 and was enjoyed by loyal fans for nine series and 62 episodes, Jane McCarry and Mark Cox were part of a multiple award-winning team.

Still Game won awards from BAFTA Scotland, Scottish Comedy Awards, Rose d’Or and many more. Both Jane and Mark also played numerous roles in the Scottish sketch show ‘Chewin’ the Fat’ which ran between 1999 and 2005. Jane also had TV success in shows like ‘Rab C Nesbitt’, and as childminder Granny Murray in the BBC Two and Cbeebies hit programme ‘Me too!’.

The acting pair were joined by Paul Ewing, actor and voice artist, and Mostafa Salameh, the first Arab to climb Mount Everest from its south side, and who is one of only ten people in the world to have completed the ‘Explorer’s Grand Slam’.

Paul had early success as a children’s presenter and worked on more than 250 children’s shows for the BBC in the late 1990s and 2000s.

He now spends most of his time song writing, singing and composing music for stage and screen. As a producer, Paul has worked on UK West End and touring productions including the number one UK tour of ‘Dracula’, and ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ starring Jason Donovan.

Born to refugee parents who met in a Palestinian refugee camp, Mostafa Salameh was brought up in Kuwait where he was made to feel like a second class citizen. After several years of hard toil living, working and learning in the UK with issues of immigration status hanging over his head, Mostafa transformed his life by gaining a degree in Hospitality and Tourism from Queen Margaret University.

Having all studied at Queen Margaret several years ago, the four famous faces were delighted to celebrate their honorary degree awards and the success of new graduates, at what was Queen Margaret University’s first in-person graduation ceremony to be held since 2019, and in the year in which the institution celebrated 50 years of teaching drama and performing arts.

Sir Paul Grice, principal of Queen Margaret University, said: "We are delighted that, today, our students have the opportunity to learn about the careers of actors and creatives, Jane McCarry, Mark Cox and Paul Ewing, and the adventurer, mountaineer and charity fundraiser, Mostafa Salameh.

"We are inspired by Jane, Mark and Paul’s outstanding creativity and their endless ability to engage and entertain. Mostafa’s passion for social justice, and his commitment to improving the lives of the disadvantaged, reflects QMU’s values. Mostafa dared to dream, and what followed was, and continues to be, extraordinary. We are truly honoured to have such exceptional individuals at graduation and we are delighted to recognise their impressive achievements with honorary degrees."

Former Scotland rugby player Doddie Weir, who launched an Edinburgh-based charity after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, was also awarded an honorary degree from Abertay University yesterday.

The award was in recognition of the work he has done through the charity, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, to help others suffering with MND.