Kenneth Branagh knighted in Queen's Birthday Honours

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Kenneth Branagh, Kate Winslet and Gary Barlow
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Kenneth Branagh, Kate Winslet and Gary Barlow have all been honoured in the Queen's Jubilee year

Actor and director Kenneth Branagh says he is "very happy, very grateful and delighted" to be knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

The Wallander star is being recognised for services to drama and the community in Northern Ireland.

The list also sees Take That star Gary Barlow become an OBE and Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet a CBE.

Branagh told the BBC he felt especially pleased to be honoured in the Queen's Jubilee year.

"I feel very humble about it, I feel elated about it," he said.

"It would be an amazing thing at any time. In the jubilee year, I'm sure anybody else that's had the good fortune to be recognised would feel as I do. Very, very special."

Branagh added it was an honour to be recognised in the same way as many of his acting heroes, including Sir Laurence Olivier, who he recently played in My Week with Marilyn.

Gary Barlow - who was widely tipped for an honour after his involvement in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations - said he was "absolutely thrilled" about being recognised for his services to the entertainment industry and to charity.

The 41-year-old star masterminded and performed in the star-studded Jubilee concert in front of Buckingham Palace.

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Gareth Malone and Gary Barlow teamed up for the Diamond Jubilee single, Sing, featuring the Military Wives choir

In a statement, the Take That singer and X Factor judge said he felt "very privileged" to be in the company of "so many brilliant people" who had also become an OBE.

He said: "Growing up, I never dreamt that one day I'd be getting one myself. I enjoy every minute of the work I do, with a lot of it being a reward in itself, so for somebody to decide I should get recognised for that is just amazing. My family are very proud."

Choir master Gareth Malone, who teamed up with Barlow for the chart-topping Jubilee anthem, Sing, is also recognised in the honours list.

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"I feel very humble, I feel elated"

He was also responsible for coaching the Military Wives Choir to secure the Christmas number one in 2011, and said he was "thrilled" to be appointed OBE for services to music.

"Over the past 10 years, encouraging people to sing has been a labour of love so it's wonderful to be recognised in this way," said Malone. "I am hugely grateful to all the people I have worked with in both television and the arts for helping me to bring music into people's lives."

He paid special tribute to his wife; and to BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans for bringing his work to a wider audience by backing the Christmas chart campaign.

Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet, 36, said she was "both surprised and honoured" to become a CBE for services to drama, and stand alongside those "who have achieved great things for our country".

Image caption,
Kate Winslet won her second Bafta for her role in The Reader

The star shot to fame in 1997 blockbuster Titanic, and has since earned six Oscar nominations and a string of international acting awards.

"I feel deeply proud to receive this, as a part of an ever expanding community of British actors and film makers who are fortunate enough to be able to contribute to an international industry," added Winslet.

"This makes me very proud to be a Brit!"

Other actors honoured include Call the Midwife's Jenny Agutter, who is appointed OBE for her charity work, and New Tricks star Amanda Redman, who founded the Artists Theatre School and becomes an MBE.

Also honoured with OBEs are actor and playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah and Upstairs Downstairs co-creator and star Jean Marsh, who returned to TV screens in 2010 for BBC One's revival of the series.

After designing the Royal wedding dress for the Duchess of Cambridge last year, Sarah Burton, the Creative Director of Alexander McQueen, is appointed OBE for services to the fashion industry.

From the literary world, The Woman in Black author Susan Hill is honoured with a CBE, while children's author and illustrator Judith Kerr - famous for the Mog stories and The Tiger Who Came to Tea - becomes an OBE.

Renowned cookery writer and broadcaster Mary Berry, 77 - who was a judge on BBC2's hugely successful TV baking contest, The Great British Bake Off - becomes a CBE.

Image caption,
Mary Berry has published cookery books and appeared on TV since the 1960s

It is a bumper year for the arts, with the Royal Shakespeare Company's artistic director Michael Boyd made a knight for services to drama, and RSC executive director Vikki Heywood appointed CBE, as they both prepare to stand down in September.

Boyd said: "I am extremely grateful for this wonderful acknowledgement of my work so far, of our achievements at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and of the earned importance of theatre in British life."

His colleague Heywood echoed his thoughts and paid tribute to the passion and ambition of those she has worked with, adding that she is "absolutely delighted and very proud".

Scottish opera director David McVicar also receives a knighthood, for services to opera, while English National Opera's Edward Gardner becomes an OBE.

A regular fixture on Countdown, Richard Stilgoe is knighted in recognition of his generous donations to good causes.

Soul singer Omar is appointed OBE, along with The Thick of It writer Armando Iannucci, for services to broadcasting.

Actress and campaigner, April Ashley, 77, will become an MBE for services to transgender equality. After being born a boy, she became the first Briton to undergo a sex change operation, in Casablanca in 1960.

Also on the list from the world of entertainment and the arts are Head of Warner Bros UK, Josh Berger, who becomes a CBE, and Bridget Jones 2 director Beeban Kidron, who is appointed OBE.