Entertainment & Arts

Dame Barbara Windsor leads arts and entertainment honours

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Media captionBarbara Windsor: "Dame Babs sounds nice doesn't it"

Barbara Windsor is among the leading entertainment and arts figures to be recognised in the New Year Honours.

The veteran star of EastEnders and the Carry On films said she was "thrilled" to be made a dame for services to charity and entertainment.

Actress Sian Phillips also receives a damehood for services to drama, while choreographer Matthew Bourne is to be knighted for services to dance.

Luther star Idris Elba receives an OBE, as does Blur singer Damon Albarn.

Actress Imelda Staunton, whose recent successes include her award-winning turn in the West End musical Gypsy, receives a CBE for services to drama.

The same honour is awarded to Tamara Rojo, the Montreal-born Spanish dancer who became the artistic director of English National Ballet (ENB) in 2013.

Spooks and Selma star David Oyelowo gets an OBE, as does tennis player turned BBC sports commentator Sue Barker.

Cold Feet actor James Nesbitt also gets an OBE, for services to drama and "the community of Northern Ireland".

Drum and bass star Goldie - real name Clifford Joseph Price - receives an MBE for services to music and young people.

There is also an MBE for Jacqui Oatley, the sports broadcaster who became the first female commentator on BBC One's football highlights show Match of the Day.

'A very good dame'

Reports of Windsor's damehood began circulating on Saturday, following a news story in The Sun with the heading "Arise Dame Babs".

The 78-year-old, who was made an MBE in 2000, told the BBC she had initially thought the letter informing her of her latest honour was a letter from her bank.

"I'm just thrilled that they've honoured me," she told the BBC's Lizo Mzimba. "I'll do my best to be a very good dame - and I don't mean in pantomime."

Known to millions as Peggy Mitchell, landlady of EastEnders hostelry The Queen Vic, the Shoreditch-born actress made her stage debut at 13 and appeared in nine Carry On films between 1964 and 1974.

In addition to her roles on stage and screen, Windsor has supported and raised funds for such charities as Help the Aged, Variety, the Royal British Legion and the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

"I feel so lucky to live in a country I love [and do] a job I have always adored which has allowed me to be in a position where I am able to help others," she said.

"For a girl from the East End born into a working class family and an evacuee during World War Two, this is truly like a dream," she continued. "I am so happy and blessed to say it's real."

Image caption Sian Phillips (second from left) appeared in Calendar Girls alongside actors from The Archers

Phillips is perhaps best known for playing Livia in the BBC's landmark adaptation of Robert Graves' I, Claudius.

The Welsh actress won a Bafta for her work in the 1976 series, in which she played the to the emperor Tiberius, played by George Baker.

Phillips, who was made a CBE in 2000, made her first radio appearance at the age of 11 and was married to actor Peter O'Toole for 20 years.

She was recently heard on BBC Radio 4 alongside cast members of The Archers in a production of Calendar Girls, a play in which she first appeared in 2008.

The 82-year-old said her damehood was "totally unexpected... and something I could never have imagined when I decided to be an actress at the age of six.

"I idolised all the dames like Peggy Ashcroft and Edith Evans and couldn't quite believe then that we inhabited the same planet.

"I feel the same way now - though I also feel deeply honoured and very grateful."

'A great surprise'

Bourne is known for his modern takes on such ballet classics as Swan Lake, which he boldly staged with a company of male dancers as the swans.

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Media captionMatthew Bourne on becoming a knight of the realm

The Hackney-born choreographer, who was made an OBE in 2001, has also enjoyed success and acclaim with his productions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Edward Scissorhands.

"This news has come as a great surprise to me, but I couldn't be more thrilled and honoured," the 55-year-old said.

"I am particularly proud to be, I believe, the first dance knight outside of the National Ballet companies."

Image caption Imelda Staunton's many roles include Miss Octavia Pole in TV series Cranford

Imelda Staunton is a three-time Olivier award winner who received a Bafta for her role in Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, a role for which she was also nominated for an Oscar.

The 59-year-old, who was made an OBE in 2006 and is married to Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter, is also known for her role as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films.

Also honoured with a CBE is screenwriter and playwright Peter Morgan, whose credits include The Queen, Rush and Frost/Nixon.

The two-time Oscar nominee, 52, said he was "surprised, delighted [and] a little embarrassed" to be recognised, admitting he had "opened the brown envelope" notifying him of his honour "expecting it to be a speeding ticket."

'Beyond special'

Rojo, 41, came to ENB after a glittering career at the Royal Ballet that saw her described in 2012 as "one of the greatest ballerinas alive today".

Speaking in 2013, the dancer said she had decided to become the company's artistic director because she "needed to do things for other people".

Elba is known for the powerful, brooding presence he has brought to everything from HBO's The Wire and detective drama Luther to Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom and Marvel's Thor films.

The 43-year-old, who was raised in Hackney by his Sierra Leonean father and Ghanaian mother, said his OBE was "beyond special, as it comes from Queen and country".

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Image caption Elba was recently seen in Netflix film Beasts of No Nation

"I couldn't be more proud for receiving this right now," he continued, adding: "On me head son!"

Oyelowo appeared in the BBC's spy drama Spooks and on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company before heading to Hollywood to play Martin Luther King Jr. in the Oscar-winning Selma.

At the age of 18, Oyelowo received a grant from the Prince's Trust - the charity Prince Charles established to help disadvantaged young people - that enabled him to join a youth theatre production.

"To be honoured by the Queen in this way having been aided by her son's charity feels like a beautiful full-circle moment," said the actor, now 39.

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Media captionJames Nesbitt: "I'm delighted for the people I'm representing"

Born in County Antrim in 1965, Nesbitt made his name playing Adam Williams in ITV's popular romantic drama Cold Feet.

He has since been seen in such TV dramas as Murphy's Law and The Missing and appeared as a dwarf in Peter Jackson's recent Hobbit trilogy.

The 50-year-old became chancellor of Ulster University in 2010 and is a patron of Wave, a charity that supports people bereaved or injured by the years of violence in Northern Ireland.

'Really rather gratifying'

"I've been very blessed with my work and very blessed to come from Northern Ireland, and for those two things to be on the citation was really rather gratifying," the actor said.

The music world is represented in the New Years honours by Albarn and Goldie, who receive an OBE and an MBE respectively.

The former shot to fame with Blur in the early 1990s but has enjoyed success since as both a solo artist and a member of cartoon collective Gorillaz.

He has also helped create works for the stage, most recently Wonder.land - a modern reworking of Alice in Wonderland that had its premiere this year at the Manchester International Festival.

The latter is a former graffiti artist whose pioneering role in the field of jungle and drum and bass saw him named as a "New Elizabethan" by Radio 4 in 2012.

Image caption Goldie tried his hand at conducting in 2008 series Maestro

The musician, who is also recognised for his charity work, said his MBE made him "look back at everything [and] all these people that influenced my life as a kid growing up in a really bad environment".

As well as Barker and Oatley, honourees from the world of broadcasting include former newsreader Martyn Lewis, who receives a knighthood for services to charity.

Also knighted is Colin Callender, a former president of HBO Films who is recognised for "promoting British film, theatre and television in international markets."

Phyllida Barlow, the Newcastle-born sculptor known for her large installation pieces, has been made a CBE for services to art.

Sherlock's executive producer Beryl Vertue, meanwhile, said she was "chuffed to bits" to receive a CBE for services to television drama.

Music industry executive David Joseph, chair and chief executive officer of Universal Music UK, receives a CBE for services to music.

There is also an OBE for Piers Haggard, the 76-year-old director whose credits include 1978 Dennis Potter serial Pennies from Heaven.

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