Entertainment & Arts

Rod Stewart, Penelope Wilton and Ant & Dec named in birthday honours

Rod Stewart and Penelope Wilton Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Stewart became a CBE in 2007, while Wilton was made an OBE three years earlier

Rock singer Rod Stewart has been knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

The 71-year-old, who was awarded a CBE in 2007, has been honoured for his music and charity work.

Downton Abbey's Penelope Wilton has become a dame, while its producer Gareth Neame has been made an OBE.

Presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have become OBEs, along with Citizen Khan's Adil Ray, actor Brian Blessed and trumpeter Alison Balsom.

Speaking to the Radio Times in 2013, Stewart said he was confused why he had not yet received a knighthood, while his contemporaries such as Sir Tom Jones and Sir Mick Jagger had.

He added if his time did not come, he was "not bothered".

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Image copyright PA
Image caption McPartlin and Donnelly began their careers in BBC drama Byker Grove

Wilton, who played Isobel Crawley in the popular ITV drama and also appeared in films such as Calendar Girls and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, plays the Queen in the forthcoming Steven Spielberg adaption of Roald Dahl's The BFG.

Neame, who is credited with giving the idea of Downton Abbey to its writer Julian Fellowes, also co-produced the BBC series, The Hollow Crown, which brought Shakespeare's history plays to TV screens.

McPartlin and Donnelly, who have made their name as double act Ant & Dec presenting the likes of Britain's Got Talent and I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, hosted a TV celebration of the Queen's 90th birthday in May.

The pair said they were "both shocked, but incredibly honoured".

"We are just two ordinary lads from the west end of Newcastle," they said. "We absolutely love what we do and have done since we started out aged 13. We hope us receiving this honour can inspire young people to chase their dreams and believe that anything is possible.

"This will definitely be the proudest our mams have ever been!"

Image copyright Getty Images/BBC
Image caption Blessed, Balsom and Ray have all been made OBEs

Blessed began his on-screen career in Z Cars in 1962 and claimed in a 2015 Big Issue interview that the last time he met the Queen, she wanted him to shout "Gordon's alive!", a line from his appearance in the film Flash Gordon.

Ray, who plays his creation Mr Khan in the BBC sitcom Citizen Khan, originally made his name as a TV and radio presenter, while Balsom has won three Classic Brit Awards. The 37-year-old musician was one of the artists chosen to perform on a cover of The Beach Boys' God Only Knows, which was used to launch BBC Music in 2014.

Balsom said: "It means a great deal to be recognised and awarded for my endeavours in the world of music, which have also brought me great personal joy and fulfilment.

"It is also a fantastic message to the rest of the world that we in Britain consistently make this public recognition of individuals in the arts - which remain such an important part of our national identity".

Also receiving honours are Irish artist Michael Craig-Martin, who came to prominence in the 1970s and has since exhibited across the world, and Julia Peyton-Jones, the outgoing director of London's Serpentine Gallery. The pair become a knight and a dame respectively.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ellis, Friedman and Street-Porter have all been honoured for the first time

The renowned concert pianist Paul Lewis, who became the first person to play all five of Beethoven's Concertos in a single session at the 2010 BBC Proms, and journalist and regular panellist on ITV's Loose Women, Janet Street-Porter, have been made CBEs.

West End producer Sonia Friedman, who recently became the first person to be named Producer of the Year for the second consecutive year at The Stage Awards, and the artistic director of Bristol Old Vic, Tom Morris - who won a Tony award for his direction of the play War Horse on Broadway - become OBEs.

Former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis, Times journalist Melanie Reid, Dynasty actress and charity campaigner Emma Samms and soul singer Ruby Turner have all become MBEs.

Forces' sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn has been given an even higher accolade than her damehood, receiving a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour.

"I felt very greatly honoured to be given a Damehood and never expected to receive anything else. So for Her Majesty to bestow a further accolade on me is very unexpected and I feel even more honoured," she said.

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