New Year Honours: John Hurt receives a knighthood

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image captionJohn Hurt has received two Oscar nominations for his roles in Midnight Express and The Elephant Man

Veteran actor John Hurt has received a knighthood in the New Year Honours.

The 74-year-old was appointed for his services to drama after a career lasting more than five decades.

Actress and writer Joan Collins has been made a dame, along with poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, TV presenter Esther Rantzen, actress Kristin Scott Thomas and fashion designer Mary Quant.

TV actors James Corden and Sheridan Smith also become OBEs for services to drama.

Corden, who rose to fame in Alan Bennett's History Boys, said he was "thrilled, overwhelmed and honoured to be recognised in such a way".

"My family are very proud. My mum is already fretting about what to wear."

Hurt's career has seen him go from a bit part in TV series Z Cars to Oscar-nominated actor for his roles in 1978's Midnight Express and 1980's The Elephant Man.

He was recently seen on the small screen in Doctor Who as the mysterious "War Doctor".

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image captionDynasty actress Joan Collins was recognised for her services to charity
image captionEsther Rantzen set up children's charity ChildLine in the 1980s after highlighting the issue of child abuse on her TV show That's Life!

Collins, who is best known for her role as Alexis Carrington in the 1980s US soap Dynasty, was made a dame for her services to charity.

The 81-year-old is involved with a number of charities including the NSPCC, National Centre for Learning Disabilities, Action for Sick Children and The Shooting Star Children's Hospice.

Collins said she was "delirious, thrilled, excited and very honoured" about being recognised for her charity work.

"There's nothing to compare to being a Dame and getting that kind of accolade from my country and my Queen.

"I am very patriotic and quite a Royalist so it is extraordinary", she told BBC News.

Collins added: "I did get an OBE a few years ago for services to drama, so to have this for my charity and philanthropic work is wonderful."

Rantzen becomes a dame for her services to children and older people. The TV presenter and campaigner set up ChildLine in 1986 to highlight the issue of child abuse and The Silver Line - a helpline for older people addressing loneliness - in 2013.

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image captionJames Corden and Sheridan Smith have both starred on stage, television and the big screen

Scott Thomas was previously made an OBE in 2003 and is best known for her roles in Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient and Gosford Park.

She will play The Queen in a new version of Peter Morgan's play The Audience next year, possibly coinciding with her investiture ceremony.

"This is an immense honour that I could not believe was really for me," she said.

"In fact, I thought someone was playing a trick. But it's true, apparently, and I am thrilled, astonished and worried that I might suddenly wake up!"

Sheridan Smith's honour follows her acclaimed TV role as popular entertainer Cilla Black on ITV. She won Olivier awards for her roles in West End musical Legally Blonde and Terence Rattigan's Flare Path and in 2012, she played Ibsen's tragic heroine Hedda Gabler at London's Old Vic theatre.

Other figures from the world of arts and entertainment to receive honours include:


  • David Verey, chair, The Art Fund, for services to arts philanthropy.


  • Alan Davey, chief executive, Arts Council England, for services to the arts.
  • Richard Jones, opera and theatre director, for services to music.
  • Ali Smith, writer, for services to literature.
  • Meera Syal, actress and author, for services to drama and literature.
  • Roger Wright, chief executive, Aldeburgh Music and lately director, BBC Proms and Controller, BBC Radio 3, for services to music.


  • Jeanetta Laurence - lately associate director, Royal Ballet, for services to dance.
  • Faith Liddell - director, Festivals Edinburgh, for services to the arts.
  • William Nicholson, screenwriter and author, for services to drama and literature.
  • Emily Watson, actress, for services to drama.
  • Tony Ageh, controller of archive development, BBC, for services to digital media.


  • Paul Cummins, the artist behind the Tower of London's ceramic poppies, for services to art and World War One commemorations.
  • Jamal Edwards, founder and chief executive officer, SBTV, for services to music.