As Baldrick once said: “It’s all right, Blackadder, you don’t have to curtsy or anything.” Tony Robinson, the diminutive actor, presenter and political activist who rose to fame in the 1980s as the put-upon manservant in the Blackadder series, is now Sir Tony.
His knighthood is one of more than 1,000 awards that make up the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, announced last night. The reward is for a combination of public and political service.
Yet Rowan Atkinson, whose title character, Edmund Blackadder, bullied, shoved and ordered Baldrick about throughout the various series, has been made only a CBE, the next-highest order on the list, for “services to drama and charity”.
Sir Tony, 66, said he was “thrilled, flattered and a little gobsmacked” to get the honour, adding: “I also pledge that from this day on I’ll slaughter all unruly dragons, and rescue any damsels in distress who request my help.” Atkinson, 58, said his CBE came as a “genuine surprise and is a great honour”.
The 1,180 names on the list include hundreds of “unsung heroes” – ordinary people contributing to the welfare of the community who have been nominated by friends or colleagues – as well as the usual smattering of the grand and glamorous.
Another prominent name is the 25-year-old singer Adele Adkins, known simply as Adele, who has shattered numerous chart records and sang “Skyfall”, the theme tune to last year’s James Bond movie. She is made an MBE.
The singer-songwriter PJ Harvey was also appointed MBE. Her fans include David Cameron’s wife, Samantha, who bought her album Let England Shake – a fact which did not deter the artist from complaining about cuts to the arts budget when she appeared with the Prime Minister on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Yesterday she issued a short statement saying she was “very happy that my name has been put forward by the Prime Minister to the Queen”.
There were also MBEs for the comedian Rob Brydon – who said he accepted the honour “for short Welshmen everywhere”; for David Haig, who starred in the recent remake of Yes, Prime Minister; and Joanne Harris, the author of Chocolat, who said she hoped the honour sent a message that “writing is important”.
The artist Grayson Perry was made a CBE. Admitting he had not expected the honour, the 53-year-old said: “I suppose I’m surprised that the tentacles of the establishment reach into my particular pond of culture.”
The actress Claire Bloom, the actor Julian Glover, the novelist Allan Massie, Thomas Heatherwick, the designer of the Olympic Cauldron, the entrepreneur and former Dragons’ Den star Hilary Devey and the BBC journalist Sue Lloyd-Roberts, who already holds an MBE, were also made CBEs.
The sports presenter Clare Balding, whose coverage of the 2012 Olympics was much praised, the golfer Paul Lawrie and Christian Horner, the principal of the Red Bull Formula One team, were made OBEs.
Other recipients of the OBE include Kate Mosse, the author of Labyrinth and a co-founder of the Women’s Prize for Fiction; Dylan Jones, the editor of GQ; the fashion journalist Hilary Alexander; Jill Stein, the director of the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall and the ex-wife of chef Rick; and Wendy Parry, whose 12-year-old son, Tim, was one of the two children killed by an IRA bomb in Warrington 20 years ago. Mrs Parry and her husband, Colin, set up the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace in honour of the two dead children.
Dames include Nicky Cullum, a professor of nursing at the University of Manchester; Hermione Lee, the president of Wolfson College and a professor of English literature at Oxford University; and Diana Ellis, the executive chair of British Rowing.
There were knighthoods for Howard Panter, the co-founder and creative director of the Ambassador Theatre Group; Nigel Bogle, the co-founder of the advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which was responsible for adverts such as Vorsprung durch Technik for Audi; the sculptor Anish Kapoor, who designed the 377ft ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture and observation tower in the Olympic Park in east London; Charlie Mayfield, the chairman of the John Lewis Partnership; and the former TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.
The director of Tate, Sir Nicholas Serota, has been made a Companion of Honour. Women make up 556, or 47 per cent, of the total of 1,180 names on the list, while about 6 per cent are from black or ethnic minorities.