By Karen Price, The Western Mail

  Honorary Fellowship for Stewart.
When actor Patrick Stewart landed the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the second incarnation of Star Trek, he admits he was not a fan of the original series.

And when the actor first attended one of the conventions organised by devoted fans he says he was "utterly overwhelmed" by their reaction to Star Trek.

Patrick Stewart bei der Übergabe des Ehren-Doktortitels Stewart was in Wales yesterday to receive an honorary fellowship from Cardiff University for achieving international distinction in his field. The university's media students study his work.

Although he has a wealth of acting credits to his name, including 25 years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stewart says he is not bothered that he is recognised first and foremost as Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

"It's all part of my career", said Yorkshire-born Stewart.

"I am very proud of the work I have done in Star Trek so to be recognised in that way is fine but it's always nice when people know I have done other things."

"I did not really know much about the original series so I approached it in the same way as I do anything else." Stewart, who starts work on the next Star Trek film later this year, is hero-worshipped by Star Trek fans, known as Trekkies, who dress up as characters from the series and attend conventions throughout the world.

"A year after I started, before I was fully exposed to the enormity of the feeling people had for Star Trek, I attended a convention in Denver and thought I would be talking to 200 to 300 people, but there were about 2,500."

"When I first went on stage I was utterly overwhelmed by the reaction of the audience."

"It was about a year after I started that I realised this was not just an ordinary job."

Stewart, who is now based in California, will soon start rehearsals for a major revival of JB Priestley's Johnson Over Jordan, which will be staged at the West Yorkshire Playhouse this autumn.

It will be his first theatre role in Britain for almost 14 years.

"My career was built on the English stage so it's a significant return for me." Stewart left school at the age of 15 and started his career as a reporter before moving into acting.

He says there had not been the "remotest" possibility when he was young that he would go to university, so the honorary fellowship was important to him. "It gives me great satisfaction", he said.

"I come from showbiz and the world of entertainment and often it's difficult to convince people there's a serious side to what we do."

"To be acknowledged in this way is very gratifying, particularly as I never advanced at all through the higher education system."

"An honour of this kind acknowledges all the work I have been doing since I finished school."

After completing filming on the new Star Trek movie in the autumn, he will then film the sequel to X-Men, which also won cult status.