Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE DL, Hon DLitt (Exeter) is the University of Exeter’s Chancellor, the ceremonial head of the University.
Floella, 63, is a broadcaster, actress, writer, producer and an active worker for the welfare, care and education of children throughout the world. Although best known for her work as a children’s TV presenter on iconic programmes like ‘Playschool’ and ‘Play Away’, she began her career in the theatre, appearing in many hit West End shows and in television dramas including ‘Within These Walls’, ‘Bergerac’ and ‘Gentle Touch’ as well as British 1977 Cannes Film entry ‘Black Joy’ where she was critically acclaimed.
Today she runs a successful TV production company and continues to appear in feature films, television dramas and children’s programmes. She is also an active Vice-President of Barnardo’s. She led a twenty-year campaign to create the role of Minister for Children, which achieved its goal in 2003.
She was Chairman of the Women of the Year Lunch for five years and Chairman of BAFTA - Television, also a member of the OFCOM Content Board and a Millennium Commissioner. She is currently President of the Elizabeth R Broadcasting Fund, President of The Ramblers and a governor of Dulwich College and the National Film and Television School. In 2008 she was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London. In 2010 she was elevated to the peerage.
Her broadcasting work has been recognised with a Special Lifetime Achievement BAFTA and an OBE.
She has created the ‘Touching Success’ initiative which aims to mentor and help young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. She is an honorary graduate of the University of Exeter.
On her appointment in 2006, Floella said, “It’s a great honour to be appointed Chancellor of the University of Exeter. I have always tried throughout my career to make a difference to the lives of young people. That is my mission and passion, so the chance to become closely involved with a major university is a wonderful opportunity to continue that work.”
Floella Benjamin is only the fifth Chancellor to be appointed by the University of Exeter since it was created in 1955. She succeeded Lord Alexander of Weedon, a leading barrister.