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Cumberbatch, Ejiofor and Redmayne named in birthday honours

Kevin Spacey has been made an honorary knight in the Queen’s Birthday honours.

The American star, who has run Old Vic theatre in London for 11 years, said he felt like “an adopted son” after being recognised for his services to theatre.

Other actors recognised in the honours list include Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiewtel Ejiofor and Lesley Manville.

And Eddie Redmayne continues a career-defining year with an OBE to add to his Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

Spacey, who steps down as artistic director of the Old Vic in the autumn, said he was “honoured and humbled by such recognition from the Queen”.

“I must thank the British public for being so supportive of my efforts on behalf of the Old Vic. I feel like an adopted son.”

Musician Van Morrison, comedian Lenny Henry and performer Michael Ball are among the other entertainers honoured by the Queen.

But there is a noticeable lack of recognition for female names from the worlds of arts and culture – despite the fact that, overall, female recipients outnumber men for only the second time in honours history.

Amanda Nevill, chief executive of the British Film Institute, is one notable exception, receiving a CBE for services to the film industry; while singer Patti Boulaye has been recognised for her charity work.

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Here are some of the most prominent entertainment figures to receive honours:

Sir Neville Marriner


Sir Neville Marriner began life as a violinist, playing first in a string quartet and trio, then in the London Symphony Orchestra, during which period he founded the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

As a conductor, he has worked not just with the Academy but many of the world’s best orchestras in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Milan, Athens, New York, Boston, San Francisco and Tokyo.

He oversaw the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film Amadeus and, last year, became the oldest conductor to lead a Prom.

Knighted in 1985, he has been made a companion of honour for services to music.

Lenny Henry


A mainstay of Comic Relief, Lenny Henry is being knighted for his services to drama and charity.

The comedian, from Dudley, made a triumphant televisual debut in 1975, when he won the New Faces talent competition at the age of 18.

For many years he was the only black British entertainer to achieve mainstream acceptance on television, through shows like Three of a Kind and the anarchic children’s show Tiswas.

In the 1980s, he had his own primetime sketch show on BBC One, and later starred in the hit sitcom Chef!

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In recent years, the star has turned his hand to Shakespeare, playing Othello and Antipholus in The Comedy of Errors, as well as campaigning for greater diversity in the media.

Pieces of Sir Lenny Henry

Van Morrison

An Irish poet steeped in the music of America, Van Morrison’s work spans blues, jazz, soul and country.

Born in Belfast in 1945, he was schooled in music by his father, who ardently collected classic jazz and blues recordings. After quitting school at the age of 15, he toured Europe with a local R&B band, before forming his own group, Them, in 1964.

They scored a UK top 10 hit with Baby Please Don’t Go in 1965; but fell apart a year later.

Going solo, the irascible musician hit a purple patch in the late 60s with the albums Astral Weeks, Moondance and Tupelo Honey.

His best-known song is undoubtedly Brown-Eyed Girl, the first dance at countless weddings since its release in 1967, but he continues to write and perform. He is being knighted for services to music and tourism in Northern Ireland, which has inspired many of his hits.

Here comes the knight

Kevin Spacey


Hollywood star Kevin Spacey receives an honorary knighthood in recognition of his 11-year stint as artistic director of London’s Old Vic theatre.

Born in South Orange, New Jersey, he studied at New York’s Juilliard drama school and began his career on stage, playing a messenger in a 1981 production of Henry VI. The following year he made his Broadway debut in Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts.

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A versatile and fearless actor, he was soon courted by Hollywood, and gave Oscar-winning performances in The Usual Suspects and American Beauty.

He took up his role at the Old Vic in 2004, directing two productions and starring in nine – including an acclaimed version of Richard III. He was credited with revitalising the theatre at a gala tribute marking the end of his tenure in April.

Kevin Spacey: UK’s ‘adopted son’

Michael Bond


Children’s author Michael Bond has created several successful series, from Parsley the lion to French detective Monsieur Pamplemousse and his talking dog, Pomme Frites.

But his most famous character is undoubtedly Paddington Bear – the ursine orphan, who is adopted from Paddington Station by the Brown family.

Bond was born in Newbury, Berkshire on 13 January, 1926 and educated at Presentation College, Reading. He served in the Royal Air Force and the British Army before becoming a cameraman for the BBC, while writing as a sideline.

The Paddington books, first published in 1958, have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide and have been translated into over 40 languages, including Latin.

The author was named a CBE for his services to children’s literature.

Chiwetel Ejiofor


Born on 10 July, 1977, in London, Chiwetel Ejiofor was a stage actor before landing a part in Steven Spielberg’s epic slavery drama Amistad, in 1997.

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He performed with the National Youth Theatre before eventually attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art; and slowly built up a portfolio of impressive, powerful cameos in films such as Dirty Pretty Things, Serenity and American Gangster.

His performance as drag diva Lola in 2006’s Kinky Boots earned him a Golden Globe nomination, and he won a Laurence Olivier award for his Othello in 2008.

But he is perhaps best known for playing Solomon Northup – a free black man from New York, who was abducted and sold into slavery – in Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave (pictured above).

Ejiofor’s recent projects include a movie starring alongside Nicole Kidman, titled The Secret in Their Eyes. He has also been treading the boards in London, starring in the theatre production Everyman at the National.

He is awarded a CBE for services to drama.

Benedict Cumberbatch


His hypnotic, quixotic portrayal of Sherlock Holmes has made Benedict Cumberbatch a household name (although some refer to him as “Britain’s favourite otter”).

Born in London in 1976, he began his career with roles in To The Ends Of The Earth and Small Island, before making his movie debut alongside James McAvoy and Rebecca Hall in 2006’s Starter for 10.

Since then, he’s played Julian Assange, Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing, receiving an Oscar nomination for the latter role. But Sherlock remains his calling card, leading directly to roles in Hollywood films like Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hobbit.

The star, who is about to have his first child with wife Sophie Hunter, recently signed up for the lead role in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

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An ambassador for both the Prince’s Trust and the Motor Neurone Disease Association, he has been made a CBE for services to the performing arts and charity.

Patti Boulaye


Singer Patti Boulaye is appointed CBE for charitable services in the UK and Sub-Sahran Africa.

Born Patricia Ngozi Ebigwei in 1954 in Nigeria, she moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 16 following the Biafran war.

Her showbiz career started when she mistakenly joined an audition queue thinking she was in line for Madame Tussauds.

After winning the talent competition New Faces in 1978, she starred in productions of Hair, The Black Mikado and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Boulaye later founded the charity Support for Africa which has helped build clinics in rural Africa and a school in Lesotho.

Michael Ball


One of the UK’s best loved musical theatre stars, Michael Ball made his West End debut in 1985 playing Marius in the original London production of Les Miserables.

He has gone on to star in a slate of hit musicals including The Phantom of the Opera, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Hairspray and Sweeney Todd – the latter shows twice winning him the Olivier Award for best actor in a musical.

He had a taste of chart success in 1989, when he reached number two in the UK singles chart with Love Changes Everything. He has since recorded more than 30 albums.

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The star says his father burst into tears upon learning his son was being awarded an OBE for services to musical theatre.

“It came out of the blue. I wasn’t expecting it and I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I love these things. For people in our business, it’s all we want is for people to say ‘you are lovely.’”

Martin Clunes


Martin Clunes has been a mainstay of British television since first appearing, aged 22, in an episode of Doctor Who.

He got his first regular television role in the BBC sitcom No Place Like Home but it was his work in Men Behaving Badly which cemented his career.

The sitcom about two beer-swilling flatmates caught the mid-90s lad culture zeitgeist and earned him a Bafta TV award in 1996.

Since 2004, Clunes has played the lead on the ITV comedy drama Doc Martin, and frequently hosts satirical quiz show Have I Got News For You.

He says he is “tremendously proud” after being awarded an OBE for services to drama, charity and the community in Dorset – where he now lives.

Lesley Manville


One of the UK’s best respected film actresses, Lesley Manville made her debut in the 1985 movie Dance with a Stranger – the story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain.

But she is perhaps best know for her association with the director Mike Leigh, who has cast her in five films after first working with her in the 1980 BBC play Grown-Ups.

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In 2011, Manville starred in Mike Leigh’s play Grief at the National Theatre. And, in 2014, she won best actress at the Olivier Awards for playing a distraught mother in Ibsen’s Ghosts.

But the Brighton-born performer, who attended the Italia Conti stage school, says she never intended to become an actress, “I’d gone to sing, but one day I found myself doing an improvisation and thought, ‘Oh God, I quite like this acting thing.’”

She becomes an OBE for services to drama.

Steven Moffat


Steven Moffat is being recognised for his services to drama. His career began with 1989’s ITV children’s series Press Gang but he is now feted as the show runner, writer and producer of two TV institutions: Doctor Who and Sherlock.

A lifelong fan of Doctor Who, his first work on the series was the script of the parody episode The Curse of Fatal Death in 1999.

After the show was revived in 2005, he created the character of River Song and monsters like the Weeping Angels, before taking over from Russell T Davies in 2010.

He was instrumental in casting Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor; and devised his take on Sherlock with co-writer Mark Gatiss during their long train journeys to the Doctor Who set in Cardiff.

Since 1991, he has won five Baftas and a primetime Emmy award. He can now add an OBE to the list.

“I never thought I would get something like this,” he said. “I’m astonished and more thrilled than I ever thought someone like me would be.

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“I’m not the least bit cynical, or the least bit trying to be cool about it. I’m just really, really happy.”

Eddie Redmayne


Eddie Redmayne, who is awarded an OBE for services to drama, has had a meteoric rise since his film debut in 2006’s Like Minds.

He starred opposite a Golden Globe nominated Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn in 2011 and was among the cast of the Oscar-winning Les Miserables.

His awards extend to theatre, where he won a 2010 Tony for his role in the play Red; while his television credits include the BBC mini-series Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Pillars of the Earth, and the two-part mini-series Birdsong.

His film career hit a high earlier this year when he won an Academy Award for playing a young Stephen Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything.


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