Vicar of Dibley co-writer Paul Mayhew Archer gives Founders’ Day lecture

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Paul Mayhew-Archer Founders Day lecture

Script-writer and producer Paul Mayhew-Archer gave the second annual Founders’ Day lecture at Oxford Brookes University on Wednesday 24 May.

A packed audience of staff, students and members of the local community attended the free lecture, entitled We Have Ways of Making You Laugh, with the Oxford Brookes Honorary Graduate.

Paul, who co-wrote two of the most successful British sitcoms of the last 20 years (The Vicar of Dibley and Mrs Brown’s Boys), talked about how comedy woks, the joy of hearing an audience laugh, the horror of hearing an audience not laugh and why laughter is crucial to us an individuals and as a society.

Paul said: “Comedy has driven people to commit murder. It has also saved lives – The Vicar of Dibley has saved at least two. Comedy has also helped people who are autistic and yet the gentle act of trying to give someone a laugh can arouse loathing and fury.”

Founders Day anniversary teaPaul was diagnosed with Parkinson’s six years ago and last year won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Presenter of the Year for the BBC documentary Parkinson’s: The Funny Side. He has always believed in the therapeutic power of laughter and he now uses comedy to keep his own spirits raised and to raise the spirits of others dealing with health problems.

He has written pieces for cancer support charity Maggie’s and family bereavement charity SeeSaw, and given talks at local and national Carers’ conferences. Paul received an Honorary Degree at Oxford Brookes in 2016.

As a script-writer and producer, Paul’s credits include the screen version of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot starring Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench; I’m Sorry I Haven’t a ClueSpitting ImageTwo Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Miranda.


Founders Day cakesFounders’ Day is an annual legacy event of Oxford Brookes University’s 150th anniversary celebrations and timed to mark the first days of teaching in the Oxford School of Art in 1865. It recognises the visionary group of philanthropists who formed the School, the extraordinary people who founded the like-minded predecessor organisations and Oxford Brookes’ modern founder John Henry Brookes. 

At this year’s celebrations, staff at Oxford Brookes marked 25 years since Oxford Polytechnic became Oxford Brookes University with an afternoon tea. The tea was also an opportunity to recognise staff members who have worked at Oxford Brookes for 25 years.

Just before the lecture, Oxford Brookes Social Enterprise Awards (OBSEA) alumni gathered to give presentations about their work and created an inspiring exhibition of social enterprise and social innovation projects which focus on the social impact of the programme, both locally and globally. 

OBSEA presentation Founders DaySocial enterprises given funding and mentoring advice from OBSEA include a women’s bakery co-operative in Peru, a back-to-work programme for unemployed mums, a support programme for non-trauma amputees and a low carbon, energy efficient hearing innovation company. 

More about the OBSEA programme can be viewed below.