New Year Honours: Kristin Scott Thomas, Esther Rantzen and Joan Collins made dames

Scott Thomas likely to be playing Queen on stage at time she visits Buckingham Palace for her award

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Kristin Scott Thomas, the doyenne of on-screen haughtiness and froideur, and Sheridan Smith, a self-proclaimed “complete chav” lauded by the acting great and good, are among the list of figures from the creative arts in the new year honours list.

Scott Thomas, 54, joins broadcaster Esther Rantzen, fellow actor Joan Collins, the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and the designer Mary Quant in being made a dame in the new year list.

The award to Scott Thomas, who lives in Paris and was presented with the Legion d’Honneur in her adopted home town in 2005, makes it likely that she will be playing the Queen on stage at the time she visits Buckingham Palace to collect her gong.

Dame Kristin is due to follow Dame Helen Mirren in the role of the monarch in an updated version of the play, The Audience, due to open in April and based on the Queen’s weekly meetings with prime ministers over the six decades of her reign.

Dame Kristin said she could barely believe that she had been included on the honours list.  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.”

 

The elevation of one of Britain’s foremost talents renowned - at times to her frustration - for a succession of roles depicting frosty female leads sits alongside recognition of Ms Smith, the Bafta and Olivier-winning actor who started her showbusiness career singing country and western with her parents in Lincolnshire pubs.

The 33-year-old, who is made an OBE, has previously described herself as a “little scrubber from Doncaster” but has been widely praised by critics for roles including her portrayal of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs’ wife and Cilla Black in an ITV biopic.  Her cover version of the Scouse singer’s hit - Anyone Who Had a Heart - made its own entry into the Top 40.

Ms Sheridan said: “I’m overwhelmed and hope to continue doing the work that I love for many years to come.”

Dame Esther, 74, said it would have been her “greatest wish” that her husband of 30 years - the documentary maker Desmond Wilcox - had lived to see her receive the honour.

The broadcaster, best known for presenting the BBC’s That’s Life!, set up The Silverline, a helpline for older people, after going public about her own experiences of loneliness following her husband’s death in 2000.

She is honoured for her work in setting up ChildLine, established in 1986, and The Silver Line helping children and the elderly. Mark Wood, chairman of the NSPCC, said: “Her diligence in supporting our most vulnerable children is inspiring to us all. This recognition is richly deserved.”

Collins, 81, who once played down her chances of being made a dame, is honoured for services to charity while Duffy, 59, is joined by fellow Scot, Ali Smith, in representing the literary world. Smith, who was shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, is given a CBE.

John Hurt, 74, is knighted after a career spanning more than 50 years and Emily Watson, 47, lauded for multiple demanding roles, is awarded an OBE.

Quant, 80, said it was “extremely gratifying” that her fashion career which included popularising the miniskirt, had been recognised. There was also a CBE for the comedian Meera Syal.

The creators of the poppy installation that drew millions to the Tower of London in memory of the First World War dead are also honoured. Ceramicist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper are both given MBEs for Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, which saw 888,246 porcelain poppies placed in the Tower’s moat in recognition of each British and Commonwealth death.

* Full 2015 Honours List at gov.uk

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