University Honours Pamela Stephenson-Connolly


Pamela Stephenson-Connolly will receive an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from Robert Gordon University at its graduation ceremony at 2.30pm on Wednesday 15 July at His Majesty's Theatre Aberdeen for her achievement in the field of human sexuality where she has made a marked, sustained and international contribution.

Dr Connolly was born in Takapuna in New Zealand and the family moved to Australia where she attended the University of New South Wales before graduating from Sidney's National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1971. She pursued a successful acting career in Australia before moving to London in 1976 and will always be identified with her iconic comedic roles in Not the Nine O'Clock News playing alongside Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones in the 1980s. Her celebrity impersonations included Kate Bush, Esther Rantzen and our own Clare Grogan.

One of her most significant impersonations was to be that of Janet Street-Porter interviewing a rather nervous Billy Connolly. She obviously, metaphorically, got her teeth into him as they later married in Fiji in 1989 and have three daughters Daisy, Amy and Scarlett. During the 80s she also appeared in the American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) and has the distinction of being the first SNL cast member to have been born outside North America. Hollywood beckoned and she appeared in such notable films as Superman III, Bloodbath At The House of Death and Mel Brook's History of the World War, Part 1.

The family settled in Los Angeles in 1991 while Billy was contracted to Warner Brothers to do TV shows and Pamela changed career direction and first studied psychology at Antioch University before graduating with a PhD in clinical psychology from the California Graduate Institute (CGI) in 1996. She is licensed in California as a clinical psychologist and has had a successful private practice in Beverly Hills for 16 years specialising in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, personality disorders and substance abuse. She is also a trained hypnotherapist offering hypnosis for smoking cessation, appetite control, trauma recovery, self esteem issues and to dental patients as an alternative to anaesthesia.

However, Dr Connolly's main specialism is in the field of human sexuality and she holds a post as adjunct professor at the CGI where she teaches in advanced human sexuality and sex therapy. She is Founder and President of the Los Angeles Sexuality Center and treats clients for a range of sexual disorders and counsels those with gender issues. Pamela is also Secretary to the American Association of Sex Educators, a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association and the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health. She is an international lecturer and has undertaken world renowned research including the largest empirical study ever undertaken on the psychological attributes of individuals who engage in power exchange sexuality and several other field studies on the gender liminal people of Samoa, Tonga and India. Dr Connolly gave the Outpatients Setting Keynote Lecture to the Addictions Faculty of the British Psychological Society, University College London in 2003.

During this period she has also managed to find the time to author an award winning biography of her husband titled Billy which sold 2 million copies (the book won the 2002 British Book of the year award) and followed this up with a second novel Bravemouth: Living with Billy Connolly. Not to be outdone by her husband's antipodean trips on a tricycle Pamela embarked on a year long cruise in 2004 around the South Pacific Ocean retracing the route taken by Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny. The cruise is documented in her book titled Treasure Islands. A year later she made another voyage to discover the fate of an ancestor, a sailing captain who had disappeared in the South Seas. The voyage was the subject of a documentary by Australian television and a book titled Murder or Mutiny. Pamela re-emerged onto British television in 2007 in a series of programmes for Channel More 4 titled Shrink Rap. A variety of celebrities including Sharon Osbourne, Stephen Fry, Robin Williams and the Duchess of York were interviewed by Pamela using a quasi-therapeutic approach to try to relate childhood experiences to problems in adult life.

This award marks and celebrates the successes of Pamela not only in her numerous careers in TV, in film, in literature but particularly in science in the field of human sexuality where she has made a marked, sustained and international contribution.