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Top film producer and Cambridge Satchel Company founder made Honorary Fellows

  • 12 May 2017

Two women who excel in their respective fields of film and enterprise have been elected Honorary Fellows of Gonville & Caius.

Christine Langan, a film producer and until last year Head of BBC Films, and Julie Deane, founder and CEO of The Cambridge Satchel Company, were exact contemporaries at Caius from 1984-87, arriving just five years after women were first admitted to the College.

Their election brings to three the number of current female Honorary Fellows at Caius: Carolyn Fairbairn, a Caian Economics graduate and Director General of the CBI, was elected in 2016.

The biochemist Dorothy Needham was the first and only previous female Honorary Fellow at the College.

Master of Caius, Professor Sir Alan Fersht, warmly welcomed the latest additions to the College’s roll of Honorary Fellows. He said: “Julie and Christine are examples of the astonishingly diverse range of Caian achievement.

“Julie’s business, begun on her kitchen table, has achieved phenomenal global success, and she continues to support and promote British manufacturing.

“Christine’s work for the BBC and elsewhere has seen her involved in such landmark and varied films as 2016’s Denial, Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus and The Queen – her impact on British film has been incredible.

“I’m particularly proud that we have elected two such impressive women to our list of Honorary Fellows. Following Caroline Fairbairn’s election last year, this seems to be a trend that I very much hope will continue.”

Christine Langan was born in London in 1965 and studied English at Caius. After three years in advertising and film reviewing, she moved to Granada Television where she began as a script-editor for daytime soap operas, moving on to become a producer of comedy and drama.

She made her feature film production debut in 2005 with Pierrepoint, starring Timothy Spall, and in 2006 she produced The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, which won the BAFTA Award for Best Film and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

In the same year, Christine became an executive producer for BBC Films, developing features such as The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) and The Duchess (2008). In 2009, she was promoted to Creative Director of BBC films, overseeing a £12M budget. By 2010 she had led BBC Films to a record 13 nominations at the British Academy Film Awards, for films including In the Loop (2009), Fish Tank (2009) and An Education (2009). In 2011 she was executive producer for Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus and the Lionel Shriver adaptation We Need to Talk About Kevin; in 2013 for Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa; and in 2016 for Denial. In 2016 Christine left the BBC to become CEO of Baby Cow Productions, the production company founded by actor and writer Steve Coogan.

In response to her election, she said:  "I’m very humbled and delighted to have received an Honorary Fellowship from my old college, Caius. I can’t express my gratitude at being invited to join this impressive and highly esteemed group of individuals. It’s as inspiring to me as the day I learned that Caius had accepted me as an undergraduate back in 1983."

Born in 1966 and raised in Wales, Julie Deane studied Natural Sciences at Caius, then pursued a successful career as an accountant, including an eight-year period in Chicago.

In 1994, she responded to an advert sent to Caians only to become the College’s first Development Officer – a challenging job as at the time many in Caius and other colleges didn’t believe such a role was needed at all.

Despite others’ doubts, Julie remained steadfastly positive and upbeat, and with just one assistant she successfully laid the foundations on which others built following her departure in 1999. She was also pressed into service as Registrary (the first woman to do the job).

Seeking a new challenge, she worked again as an accountant and business consultant, before in 2008 founding The Cambridge Satchel Company. Begun on her kitchen table, the company had a turnover worldwide of £13 million per year by 2013, currently does business in 139 countries and is worth some £40 million.

Besides running her own business, Julie has become a nationally recognised spokeswoman for small businesses and entrepreneurs, recently leading a national committee reporting to the government on the challenges and opportunities for those who want to work for themselves. She continued this work reflecting on the challenges of modern entrepreneurship as entrepreneur in residence at the British Library through 2016.

Julie has also committed herself strongly to supporting British craft and small enterprise and to education and training. All her products are made in this country.

We look forward to seeing both Julie and Christine at events at Caius in the future, and congratulate them both.

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