Quentin Blake knighted in Queen's New Year honours

Sir Quentin Blake: "To me it's amazing"

Artist Quentin Blake has been knighted in the New Year honours list for his work as an illustrator.

Known for his distinctive drawings, many of which Roald Dahl used in his books, Blake said the honour was "quite a nice 80th birthday present".

Artist Tracey Emin and singer Kate Bush become CBEs while actor Ewan McGregor is made an OBE.

The list, dominated by the 2012 Olympics recognises the director of the Cultural Olympiad, Ruth Mackenzie.

The former government advisor is made an CBE for her services to the London Games, while designer Stella McCartney, who created the kit worn by Britain's record-breaking Olympic team, becomes an OBE for her services to fashion.

Former Strictly Come Dancing star Arlene Phillips said she was "absolutely thrilled" at being made a CBE.

The choreographer who founded the dance group Hot Gossip in the 1970s has worked behind the scenes on concerts, musicals and films.

Start Quote

I haven't quite got used to it yet, but I'm very pleased about it.”

End Quote Quentin Blake
Jackanory pictures

She joins artist Alex Beard, deputy director of the Tate Gallery and actor-turned-politician Michael Cashman, best known for his role as Colin Russell in EastEnders - a participant in the first gay kiss in a British soap opera - who are also made CBEs.

"This announcement is as big a surprise at it is an honour," said Cashman, 62, accepting the honour "on behalf of all those fighting for equality".

Blake, from Sidcup in south-east London, has provided his distinctive pictures for some of the most popular literature, including the BBC series Jackanory. He has also published many of his own books.

His knighthood recognises his involvement in the House Of Illustration, a permanent museum and gallery for which he has pledged his entire archive, due to open in north London in 2014.

It also recognises his work in hospitals where he has created specially-commissioned artworks and murals.

"I haven't quite got used to it yet, but I'm very pleased about it. I think of it as quite a nice 80th birthday present. But I think it is even more valuable to me because it is for things that aren't finished - it relates to projects that are still ongoing.

"The work in hospitals makes the patients feel more welcome and it is reassuring to their relatives," he said.

Kate Bush singing Wuthering Heights on Top of the Pops Kate Bush singing Wuthering Heights on Top of the Pops in 1978

Having previously received both an OBE and a CBE, he said that many of his overseas fans assume that he is already a Sir.

"The funny thing is that my books are published a lot in France and Germany and I get a lot of letters from people there who think I have got it already, so I suppose this kind of regularises it," he said.

'Deeply honoured'

Bush, whose chart-topping debut single Wuthering Heights instantly made her a star in 1978, said she was "deeply honoured" to be recognised for her services to music.

The 54-year-old singer-songwriter has kept out of the public eye for much of the past two decades, with only occasional releases and appearances.

Last year she released an album of reworked songs from earlier in her career, as well an album of new tracks called 50 Words For Snow.

"It's a great surprise and I'm really delighted," she said.

"Thanks to everyone who's encouraged and supported my work over the years."

Ewan McGregor McGregor is appointed an OBE for services to drama and charity

Scottish actor McGregor is recognised for his services to both drama and charity.

An ambassador for Unicef, McGregor became a supporter of the charity after visiting some of its projects in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Mongolia as part of his televised round-the world motorcycle trip, Long Way Round. His film credits include Moulin Rouge, Trainspotting, and the Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace.

An OBE also goes to 44-year-old stage and screen actor Adrian Lester, star of the BBC show Hustle, and comedy writer Jeremy Lloyd, who created the likes of 'Allo 'Allo and Are You Being Served?

"I'm aware I've made people laugh round the world, but I'm astounded to be honoured for services to British comedy," said Lloyd, 82.

"It is, after all, what I love doing and couldn't have done without the many wonderful actors, directors and others who made my work come to life."

Joining them are Michael Billington, the Guardian's theatre critic; Philip French, film critic for the Observer and Nica Burns - a leading figure in London's West End.

Charity work

Other entertainment figures to be honoured include Glasgow-born actress Siobhan Redmond.

Redmond, who first appeared on television in the early 1980s before going on to star in shows such as Taggart and Holby City, receives an MBE for services to drama.

The same honour goes to violinist Nicola Benedetti for her services to music and charity. Benedetti was named BBC's Young Musician of the Year in 2004 at the age of 16 and has also worked with organisations such as Sistema Scotland, to help demonstrate the power that music can have in transforming the lives of young people.

Meanwhile, fashion commentator Caryn Franklin, who presented the BBC's The Clothes Show, receives an MBE for services to diversity in the fashion industry.

A knighthood also goes to Kenneth Grange, one of the UK's leading industrial designers, responsible for Britain's first parking meter, Adshel bus shelters and the London taxi.

One notable name missing from the list is Danny Boyle, who created the epic Olympic opening ceremony.

The director of hit films including Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting is believed to have turned down an honour.

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