Baggs Happiness Lecture

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The Baggs Memorial Lecture is part of the Distinguished Lecture Series and began in 1976. Born in Birmingham in 1889, Thomas Baggs was an alumnus of the University who went on to become a teacher, journalist and a war correspondent for the Daily Mail before pursuing a successful career in advertising and publicity for the USA automobile industry.

When he died in 1973 Thomas bequeathed a substantial sum to the University to provide for an annual public lecture on the theme of ‘Happiness - what it is and how it may be achieved by individuals as well as nations.’

This lecture series has seen many distinguished speakers tackle the topic of happiness from their personal viewpoint including Yehudi Menuhin, David Attenborough, Peter Ustinov, Maureen Lipman, Rev'd Richard Coles, Adam Hart Davies, Robert Winston and Sue Lawley.

Video archive

This wonderful theme has produced some truly uplifting, thought provoking, and vastly diverse lectures some of which you can view here, along with a full list of Happiness Lecture speakers.

 Eve Pollard, OBE

Baggs Happiness Lecture 2019

Eve is a journalist, presenter and broadcaster. Often referred to as 'The First Lady of Fleet Street', Eve was one of the first female editors of a national newspaper in the UK, editing the Sunday Mirror from 1987-1991 and the Sunday Express from 1991-1994.



Baggs Happiness Lecture 2018

The Reverend Richard Coles was ordained into the Anglican priesthood in 2005 and serves his parish in the village of Finedon, Northamptonshire. Richard is also known as one half of pop band The Communards, together with Jimmy Somerville. During the 1980s The Communards had three UK Top 10 hits, including the biggest-selling single of 1986, Don’t Leave Me This Way, making him the only vicar to have ever had a number one single.

Richard continues to balance holy duties with a glittering media career, as co-presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live and as a regular guest panellist on shows such as Have I Got News For You and QI. Often described as Britain’s most famous vicar, in January 2014, he won the BBC’s Celebrity Mastermind, and has appeared on Strictly Come Dancing.

Baggs Happiness Lecture 2017

Described as ‘comedy royalty’ by the Telegraph, John Lloyd is the man behind iconic TV comedy classics such as Not The Nine O’Clock News, Spitting Image, Blackadder and QI, as well as the popular BBC radio show The News Quiz. He has also penned a number of popular books, including The Meaning of Liff, with Douglas Adams.

As well as the successful BBC TV series, the QI ‘universe’ now encompasses an online encyclopaedia, series of books, apps, live events, podcasts and radio series. John can currently be heard presenting the QI spin-off, The Museum of Curiosity, on BBC Radio 4, now in its eleventh series.

John’s first major TV production was Not the Nine O’Clock News with Mel Smith, Griff Rhys Jones, Rowan Atkinson, and Pamela Stephenson. The show also provided a platform for writers including Richard Curtis and Clive Anderson. John then went on to produce all four series of Blackadder, working again with Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis, as well as Ben Elton.

John was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to broadcasting.

Baggs Happiness Lecture 2015

Matthew Parris worked for the Foreign Office and the Conservative Research Department before serving as MP for West Derbyshire. He joined The Times as parliamentary sketchwriter in 1988, a post he held for 13 years. He now writes as a columnist for the paper and in 2011 won the British Press Award for Columnist of the Year. He broadcasts for radio and television, and presents the biographical programme Great Lives on BBC Radio 4. He is also a regular columnist for The Spectator. Matthew won the Orwell Prize for his acclaimed autobiography, Chance Witness, published in 2002.

Baggs Happiness Lecture 2014

Chris Addison is an award-winning writer, stand up comic and actor, with a career which has spanned over a decade, with credits including BAFTA Award-winning comedy The Thick of It.

He is every inch the confident, charismatic host, with faint undertones of vulnerability and steel, who impressed Edinburgh Fringe audiences with his series of Perrier-award winning stand-up shows. He has made appearances as a panellist on a number of comedy shows including Have I Got News for You, and Mock the Week.

Baggs Happiness Lecture 2012

Jung Chang is the author of the best-selling books Wild Swans - Three Daughters of China, and Mao: The Unknown Story. Both books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and together sold some 15 million copies. Among the many awards she won are the UK Writers' Guild Best Non-Fiction (1992) and Book Of The Year UK (1993).

Baggs Happiness Lecture 2011

The ex-political editor and chief political columnist of the Daily Mirror is best known for his one-time role as spokesman, press secretary and strategic adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair, having played a key role in shaping New Labour and returning the Party to power in 1997. He remains active in Labour politics today and is passionate about sport, fair access to education and charity.

Baggs Happiness Lecture 1980

Sir David Attenborough is an English broadcaster, writer, and naturalist noted for his innovative educational television programs. Attenborough was director of television programming of the BBC from 1968 to 1972, and went on to write and narrate a succession of award-winning television programs on anthropology and natural history. His most notable programs include The Living Planet(1984), Life in the Freezer (1993), The Life of Birds (1998), The Life of Mammals (2002-03) and Life in Cold Blood (2001). Attenborough's other TV credits include Blue Planet (2001) among others that dealt heavily with environmental issues. He won an Emmy Award for his narration of Blue Planet II (2017). 


Full list of Happiness Speakers

1976  Yehudi Menuhin                      

1977  The Rt Hon. Roy Jenkins

1978  The Rt Hon. Lord Clark

1979   Peter Ustinov

1980  Sir David Attenborough

1982  The Rt Hon. Shirley Williams

1983   Dr Jonathan Miller

1984  Dr Desmond Morris

1985   Sir Hugh Casson

1986    Rabbi Lionel Blue

1987    Lord St. John of Fawsley

1988    Alan Bennett

1989    Professor Laurie Taylor

1990    Dennis Heale

1991    John Mortimer

1992    William Rushton

1994    Anthony Clare

1995    Maureen Lipman

1996    Sir Roy Strong

1997    Lord Mackay of Clashfern

1998    Richard Wilson

1999   David Lodge

2000    Sir Trevor McDonald

2001    James Naughtie

2002    Adam Hart-Davis

2004    Professor Lord Robert Winston

2005    Sue Lawley, OBE

2006    Lord (Richard) Layard

2007    Alexander McCall Smith

2008    Andrew Motion

2009     Clive Anderson

2010     Benjamin Zephaniah

2011     Mr Alastair Campbell

2012     Ms Jung Chang

2013    Mr Gyles Brandreth

2014    Mr Chris Addison

2015     Mr Matthew Parris

2016     Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson

2017      John Lloyd, CBE

2018     Rev’d Richard Coles

2019     Eve Pollard, OBE