Stirling Alumni “The Creatives”: From BAFTA winner to Scots Makar

88,000+ Alumni in 169 countries

Be inspired by our alumni who are being the difference across the world. This week we’re celebrating the success of some of our “creative minds”.

Stirling is ranked 1st in Scotland and top 10 in the UK for Media and Film Studies (Guardian University Guide 2019).

We’re 2nd in Scotland and top 20 in the UK for English Studies (The Complete University Guide 2018)

With rankings like this it’s no wonder that our graduates are breaking new ground in the creative world!

Doug Allan – Wildlife cinematographer, photographer, biologist and research diver
BSc Marine Biology 1973, Honorary Doctorate 2007

Doug Allen at the South Pole
Doug on one of his many polar expeditions

Doug Allan is best known as the principal cinematographer for a number of world-renowned BBC nature documentaries, including Planet Earth and Blue Planet. We imagine he’s had to build a few extra shelves over the years to house his numerous awards! Highlights include:

  • Five BAFTAs with the BAFTA for Outstanding Contribution to Cinematography Craft being awarded to Doug in 2017
  • Four Emmys for Cinematography
  • Recognition for Cinematography and Photography at the Wildscreen Pandas, Jackson Hole and Missoula Film Festivals

Doug’s wildlife filmmaking career began in 1986. Since then he has specialised in extreme environments, particularly the North and South Polar regions, both above and below the water. He’s now very well acquainted with both penguins and polar bears, though of course never at the same time! He has filmed wildlife and expeditions all over the world, including the upper reaches of Mt Everest.

“Doug Allan seems to be immune to most of the limitations that govern other humans. Furthermore, he is totally without fear in a way that comes not from recklessness but from deep knowledge and experience.”

David Attenborough

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Eilidh Barbour, Television presenter and reporter
BA Film and Media Studies 2005

Eilidh is definitely making her mark as a sports presenter and reporter, fronting shows from golf to football and rugby. In 2017 she became the main presenter of BBC’s golf coverage, replacing her broadcasting hero Hazel Irvine. This year alone she worked at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and was the BBC anchor for top golf tournaments such as the US Masters and the Ryder Cup. As well as BBC Sport, Eilidh works with BT Sport and BBC 5Live. With her popularity soaring with sporting fans, Eilidh’s regularly seen presenting renowned sports shows such as Football Focus, Final Score, and The Women’s Football show.

After graduating from the University of Stirling Eilidh went to South Korea to teach English. Her next step in her career was getting a job with STV, primarily editing their football and rugby highlights. Eilidh then took on various reporting jobs such as the presenter of STV Rugby for the 2011–12 season.

Eilidh is a keen sportswoman herself playing football for Partick Thistle Ladies and golf at Blairgowrie.

Jackie Kay MBE – Poet and novelist, current Scots Makar
BA English Studies 1983, Honorary Doctorate 2000

Jackie is the current Scots Makar – the National Poet for Scotland. The role involves promoting poetry throughout the country and encouraging young people to engage with the art form.
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“Jackie Kay’s poems sometimes deal with challenging subjects, taken from her own life experiences, and she has a particular Scottish brand of gallus humour. She is hugely respected, is known for her poignant and honest words, and is a role model for many, and I am delighted to name her as the new National Poet for Scotland.”

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Although Jackie initially wanted to become an actress, she decided to focus on writing after talking to Alasdair Gray, a Scottish artist and writer. He read her poetry and convinced her that writing was where her career lay. We’re very happy that Jackie took his advice! This led her to studying English at Stirling. Jackie’s first book of poetry, the partially autobiographical The Adoption Papers, won the Saltire Society Award for best first book in 1992.  She won the 2011 Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Award (Non-Fiction) for Red Dust Road, an account of her search for her natural parents. Jackie has also written extensively for stage.

In an interview with our alumni magazine ‘Stirling Minds’ in 2016 we asked Jackie if she had a favourite memory of being a student at Stirling. Thankfully she had many!

“I loved being part of ‘The Women’s Collective’ and our get-togethers in the cottages in Biggar. I also loved attending the ‘MacBob’ and seeing brilliant theatre there like ‘Gay Sweatshop’. Most of all though, I loved my English seminars with Angela and Grahame Smith.”

Alan Bissett – Novelist, playwright and screenwriter
BA English Studies with Education 1998, MLitt English Studies 2002, Honorary Doctorate, 2016

Alan became a published author while still studying for his MLitt English Studies! Boyracers was his debut novel. It focuses on four male teenagers growing up in the town of Falkirk, exploring the influences of popular culture, global capitalism and social class on the lives of young people in contemporary Scotland.

“My years at the University of Stirling were among the happiest and most productive of my life. Not only did I learn a great deal about literature and train to be a teacher there, but my extra-curricular involvement in the Musicals Society helped kick off my career in theatre. My first novel was also published while I was still a postgraduate student, so Stirling is where everything started for me really.”

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In 2012, Alan was named Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Writer of the Year and in 2013 was shortlisted for the Creative Scotland and Daily Record Literature Award, the same year his play Ban This Filth! was shortlisted for an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. His short film, The Shutdown (2009) won numerous awards at international and domestic film festivals.

Alan is currently touring the country with his play ‘(More) Moira Monologues’ which won The Scotsman Fringe First award in 2017.

“A near-perfect series of new monologues, both howlingly funny and unnervingly sharp and poetic.” – 5***** The Scotsman”

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