Comedian Don Maclean made Papal Knight

Malcolm Stent, Dave Ismay, The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, Don Maclean, Jasper Carrott and Gary Newbon (left to right) Malcolm Stent, Dave Ismay, Jasper Carrott and Gary Newbon attended alongside the Archbishop of Birmingham and Don Maclean (third from right)

Midlands comedian Don Maclean has been made a Papal Knight for using his work to further the Roman Catholic faith.

More than 400 people attended a Mass at Our Lady of the Wayside, Shirley, including fellow comedian Jasper Carrott and TV presenter Gary Newbon.

Maclean, of Solihull, was given a sword as he was made a Papal Knight of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of Pope St Sylvester.

He said it was "probably one of the best days" of his life.

'Wonderful thought'

Maclean, who appeared on 1970s TV programmes Crackerjack and The Black and White Minstrel Show, presented Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2 for nearly 16 years from 1990.

He said: "I do have a sword and I am supposed to protect my archbishop against attack should anybody decide to attack him, if I'm actually attending a Mass which he is presiding."

The comedian, who has also been given a uniform, is now entitled to ride a horse into St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

He added: "I can't wait to try that one!

'Very, very special'

"I don't know how I'd get him up the steps and I don't know whether anybody's ever exercised that privilege, but it's a wonderful thought."

Speaking after the Mass, which began at 11:00 BST, Maclean said the honour "comes from the Pope himself, which makes it very, very special".

The comedian said he was given a Papal Brief from the Vatican - "like a certificate almost" - and a medal was pinned onto his chest by The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham.

Maclean said: "I was brought up by a very devout Roman Catholic mother and really from when I was quite young, the Roman Catholic faith has been important to me."

Those attending also included actor, musical performer and playwright Malcolm Stent and entertainer and presenter Dave Ismay.

Peter Jennings, Press Secretary to the Archbishop of Birmingham and to the Archdiocese of Birmingham, said: "The award is conferred on men who are actively involved in the life of the Catholic Church, particularly those who have used their profession to further the Catholic Faith."

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