Entertainer Bruce Forsyth says he is "very proud" after being knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
The recognition for the 83-year-old comes after years of campaigning by fans and a parliamentary Early Day Motion signed by 73 MPs.
The list sees actor Colin Firth and singer Bryan Ferry become CBEs and BBC Radio 4 presenter Jenni Murray a dame.
Ex-EastEnders star Brooke Kinsella, 27, a campaigner against knife crime since her brother's murder, is made an MBE.
Ashes-winning cricket captain Andrew Strauss is made an OBE and fellow opening batsman Alastair Cook an MBE, while golfer Lee Westwood is appointed an OBE.
Sir Bruce's career has spanned almost 70 years, including presenting TV hits such as The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and, most recently, Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One.
He is known for greeting audiences with his catchphrase, "Nice to see you, to see you nice."
He was made an OBE in 1998, and a CBE in 2005 and since then there has been considerable speculation about when he might be knighted.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office, which manages the honours system, said: "Generally speaking, committees like to see another four or five years' further achievement or service before they start to consider a further award."
'Didn't he do well?'
Sir Bruce told the BBC he was "so happy and so relieved in a way".
"When I got the CBE there'd been speculation every year and I think there's been too much talk about it, so I'm thrilled at last it has happened," he said.
"I feel very proud that my career hasn't been in vain. I just love getting out there and performing and this is a reward that I never expected and hope I'm worthy of."
But he admitted that he even feared a hoax when he was notified of the knighthood.
"We were doubtful because it's been going on so long, the speculation, we thought it might be a hoax so we did check all the way down the line that it was real," he said.
"Didn't he do well?" said BBC controller of entertainment commissioning, Mark Linsey, quoting another catchphrase.
"Arise Sir Brucie," said Strictly Come Dancing co-host Tess Daly. "Bruce is Britain's greatest living all-round entertainer and for 70 years - and counting - he has been making us laugh."
She added: "Does this mean I'll have to curtsy now at the start of each show?"
Speaking to the BBC on Saturday afternoon alongside his wife of 30 years, Wilnelia Merced, Sir Bruce said he would indeed expect some respect from his co-host.
"Of course she will and she'll have to curtsy and pay homage to me," he said.
Sir Bruce said he felt the honour was as much Wilnelia as for himself but she denied that was the case, claiming she was having a "free ride".
"I think it's really more a recognition about the amazing career you have," Lady Forsyth said. She added that he would be brought back down to earth by still having to do the dishes.
Fifty-year-old Firth is honoured by the Queen after winning an Oscar and Bafta for depicting the struggle with a stammer of her father, George VI, in The King's Speech.
Pop star Ferry, 65, has enjoyed success as lead singer of Roxy Music and as a solo artist, with hits including Love is the Drug and Jealous Guy.
He said being made a CBE was a "great honour", and expressed thanks to "all the musicians and others behind the scenes who have helped me throughout my career".
It was the murder of her 16-year-old brother, Ben, in 2008 that turned former EastEnders actress Kinsella into a prominent anti-knife crime activist.
Appointed a government adviser, Kinsella published a report earlier this year recommending measures including the staging of anti-knife crime workshops in primary schools.
There are knighthoods for Bank of England governor Mervyn King and for IVF pioneer Professor Robert Edwards.
Sir Robert is honoured eight months after being awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in recognition of work that led to the birth of the first test-tube baby in 1978.
Former Tory leader Michael Howard is made a Companion of Honour for public and political services.
'Most beautiful voice'
Dame Jenni has been the regular host of Radio 4's Woman's Hour since 1987 and has previously presented the Today programme and BBC Two's Newsnight.
Also an author and regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, the 61-year-old was once described by journalist Sir Charles Wheeler as having "the most beautiful voice on radio, ever".
The owner of another of radio's most distinctive voices is honoured, as Radio 2 DJ "Whispering" Bob Harris becomes an OBE. He is 65.
Actress and director Janet Suzman, 72, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the 1971 film Nicholas and Alexandra but is better known for her theatre work, becomes a dame.
There is good news for two stars of comedy series The Goodies: Writers and actors Graeme Garden, 68, and Tim Brooke-Taylor, 70, are made OBEs. Their fellow creator of the 1970s show, Bill Oddie, became an OBE in 2003.
Actor Bernard Cribbins has enjoyed a prolific career since the 1950s, in films including Carry On comedies and The Railway Children, and on TV in the likes of Fawlty Towers, Doctor Who, Jackanory and as narrator of The Wombles.
Appointed an OBE, the 82-year-old said he was "gobsmacked". "You can't go through life expecting to get prizes. You just get on with things, which is how it should be," he said.
There are MBE awards for authors Kate Atkinson, whose books include Behind The Scenes At The Museum and Case Histories, and The Gruffalo creator and children's laureate Julia Donaldson.
Textile designer Celia Birtwell, 70, becomes a CBE. The clothes she produced with Ossie Clark in the 1960s helped define the era and were worn by the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Twiggy among others.
Artist and film director Sam Taylor-Wood is made an OBE and the same honour goes to conceptual artist Gillian Wearing.
England cricketers' achievement in winning their first Ashes series in Australia for 24 years in January is recognised as skipper Strauss and coach Andy Flower are appointed OBEs.
The MBE honour for 26-year-old Cook rewards his 766 runs, the most by an Englishman in the Ashes since 1928, which earned him the player of the series title.
Golfer Westwood, 38, becomes an OBE following a period of months in which he twice topped the world golf rankings, the first time ending Tiger Woods' 281-week reign as world number one.
There is a knighthood for 68-year-old Henry Cecil, arguably Britain's greatest ever racehorse trainer. In a career lasting more than 40 years, he has been crowned champion trainer 10 times.
Two athletics world champions become MBEs - heptathlete Jessica Ennis, 25, and triple jumper Phillips Idowu, 32.
Ennis said: "I love my sport and can't think of anything I would want to do more, and to be recognised for the years of hard work and the success I have had over the past two years means so much."
Cyclist Mark Cavendish is also appointed an MBE after a year in which he won five stages of the Tour de France.
The first Briton to play basketball in the NBA in the US, John Amaechi, becomes an OBE.
Amaechi, who is 40, became the first openly gay NBA player when he came out in 2007. In recent years he has undertaken considerable voluntary work and his award in the Queen's Birthday Honours recognises services to sport and the voluntary sector.
"Normally the kind of thing you say to this is you're standing on the shoulders of giants," Amaechi said. "I'm a giant who has literally been propped up by a wonderful family and the people that I work with.
"So it's like a giant standing on the shoulders of slightly smaller people."
Of the 965 people receiving an award in the honours list, 74% are members of the public recognised for outstanding community and voluntary work.
Among them is Beverley De-Gale, who set up a charity to attract bone marrow donors from ethnic minorities after her son developed leukaemia. She is appointed an OBE.
Ex-soldier David Stuttard, 65, set up an organisation that has improved water sanitation in parts of Ghana and given 50,000 people access to clean water. He becomes an MBE.
Also becoming an MBE is Patricia Gilman, who has worked as a lunchtime supervisor at Kenmore Park First School in Harrow, north London, for more than 30 years.