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Who’s Who of the Exeter Alumni

With the arrival of exams this week we’re sure everyone is looking for that little bit of motivation to get them through. Here at Her Campus Exeter we decided to bring you a selection of people that all passed through our own esteemed univeristy and once felt exactly the same. Although some of you may not be able to see beyond the end of the week, if you stay motivated now, maybe your name will make it on the list one day…!

Frank Gardener

Perhaps you may not be aware of this BBC Security Correspondent, but he is undoubtedly one of the greatest and bravest alumni to come from Exeter University. Having graduated in 1984 with a degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies, he claims that he didn’t really get into his degree until he spent a year in Cairo with an Arabic family. He said studying Arabic was ‘like having to learn Chaucerian English!’ He subsequently worked and travelled all over the Middle East eventually becoming the BBC Security Correspondent. He frequently risked his life reporting from dangerous and war-torn areas and in 2004 was seriously injured after being shot six times by Al-Queda sympathisers. Thankfully he did not loose his life and continues to report today.


Rhod Gilbert

Studying languages, Rhod Gilbert, the well known welsh comedian was once at Exeter. Far from what you would expect from a now famous and successful comedian, Gilbert was excruciatingly nervous and hardly left his accommodation for the first three weeks. He could not bear to eat in the canteen despite paying for the meals and even contemplated leaving. Despite these difficulties he ended up leaving with a 2:1 in French and Spanish. The funny guy obviously spent a lot of time joking around as he admitted to going to only ‘two lectures out of 60 in the final year!


Will Young

As the winner of the infamous Pop Idol, Will Young has gone from strength to strength since he studied politics at Exeter University. He suggests that his decision to study politics was because “I thought I should know more about what was going on in my country.” Whilst studying here he enjoyed taking part in university productions shown at the Northcott and eventually graduated with a 2:2. Rumour has it that he spent his first year in Duryard Halls of Residence and also waited at ‘Harry’s’ on Longbrook Street during his spare time. The staff claimed “He made pretty poor cappuccinos and forgot many a pudding, but made up for it with his trademark charm!”


Thom Yorke

Known for wearing a long coat and a trilby hat around campus, Thom Yorke, Radiohead’s lead singer once attended Exeter. Studying Fine Art and English, he passed the time regularly DJ-ing at Exeter’s *finest* nightclub, the Lemon Grove, and also played with his band ‘Headless Chickens’ at the Amber Rooms, now known as Monkey Suit. Although he may be long gone now, his legacy lives on through Cavern Club, which York helped to set up and provides a stage for musicians to this day. It was also at Exeter, that Yorke met the ‘sixth’ member of Radiohead – Stanley Donwood – an artist who has created all of the band’s album artwork and posters since 1994.


J K Rowling

Undoubtedly Exeter’s biggest claim to fame is the imagination that created the world of Harry Potter. J K Rowling (real name: Joanne Rowling), the women who imagined the impressive wizarding world of Hogwarts once graced the corridors of the Amory building. Contrary to popular belief, Rowling took her degree in Classics and French as opposed to English Literature, after her parents persuaded her it was a ‘where will it lead?’ subject. As you would expect, Rowling helped to stage various productions at the university and enjoyed the use of the library – running up a £50 fine at one point! Her time at Exeter clearly left a mark on her creativity as many local places were used as inspiration for the Harry Potter series. The Great Hall at Exeter University inspired Hogwarts’ own Great Hall and Gandy Street is where Diagon alley was born.  There is also on-going debate over which student packed pub – Firehouse or The Black Horse inspired the Leaky Cauldron – make sure to check both places out!


So there you have it – five distinguished individuals that will precede your name on the list of Exeter University alumni.

Image Credits: guardian.co.uk, telegraph.co.uk, thevoiceuk.blogspot.com

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