THE actor who plays Grant Mitchell in EastEnders is to stand against five other nominees for the position of Lord Rector of Glasgow University in next month's election, writes Paul O'Hare.

Actor Ross Kemp, SNP Holyrood candidate Ian Hamilton QC, and comedian John Sessions yesterday emerged as the favourites to succeed Richard Wilson on March 9.

They will compete against two pensioners and a recent Glasgow graduate to secure a three-year term in the post. As well as representing the students, the rector is entitled by law to chair meetings of the University Court.

It has been rumoured since October that Kemp, 36, would stand as a candidate for Glasgow University Labour Club. Club chairman Blair McDougall, said: ''In Ross Kemp we have the opportunity to elect an excellent rector who will represent and fight for the university.''

Although Kemp is based in London, Mr McDougall said of him: ''When we contacted him about the position, he was very enthusiastic - he is a committed campaigner for social justice and feels passionately about education.

''Despite Ross's hardman image, he is an articulate and intelligent individual and those who confuse him with his screen character are in for a shock.''

Kemp is on holiday in Tanzania and unavailable for comment but is due to begin his election campaign soon.

University Union debating legend, Mr Anthony Louden Connolly, 72, is widely believed to be the most realistic challenger to the celebrity candidates. Mr Connolly has been debating in the union for 55 years, despite never having studied at the university.

Mrs Margaret Smith, otherwise known as ''Jamie's Gran'', was the most unlikely candidate to enter the race. Jamie Smith, a second-year English literature student, said interest in his gran's campaign had been ''quite high'' and that he had been planning it for three months.

Freelance illustrator Will Pickering, who graduated from the university in 1992, is standing as a candidate for the university's gaming society.