Entertainment & Arts

Damian Lewis awarded freedom of the City of London

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Media captionActor Damian Lewis has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London for his acting achievements.

Homeland star Damian Lewis has received the freedom of the City of London in recognition of his achievements as an actor.

The London-born actor picked up a Golden Globe award earlier this year for his role as Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody in the hit TV series.

He said the honour was "one of the greatest I've ever received".

The freedom of the City dates back to 1237 and is offered to individuals to celebrate a significant achievement.

Other recent recipients include Sir Michael Caine and London 2012 Paralympian David Weir.

Receiving the award at the City's Guildhall, Lewis said: "It's remarkable, I'm still surprised. I wasn't quite sure if they'd got the right person, so I'm very happy to be here. It's a rare occasion."

Lewis, 42, was educated at Eton College and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, from where he graduated in 1993.

The actor, also known for playing Soames Forsyte in ITV's The Forsyte Saga and Major Richard D. Winters in the US mini-series Band Of Brothers, said he felt strongly connected to London.

"I feel like a Londoner through and through actually. London is the greatest city in the world, I think."

He also revealed historical family ties to the City. "Four previous lord mayors were related to me - my great-great-grandfather, great-grandfather and a great-uncle, and my grandfather.

"They started out as girdlers. They'd probably be making Spanx now if they were around today," he joked.

The freedom of the City of London is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade.

Today people are nominated or apply for the freedom, because it offers them a link to the historic City of London and one of its ancient traditions.

However, many of the so-called traditional privileges associated with the honour, such as driving sheep over London Bridge, no longer exist.

Lewis said the lapsed tradition was a "shame", adding: "I've got a flock in my garden in Tufnell Park but I wasn't allowed to bring them down."

Lewis will next star as Lord Capulet in an upcoming production of Romeo And Juliet, directed by Carlo Carlei.

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