Honours: Arts - McKellen joins cultural titans with elevation to Companion of Honour

After a year in which she cemented her recovery from cancer with a jet-set schedule ranging from performing at the Nobel Peace Prize concert to an appearance in
Doctor Who, Kylie Minogue yesterday expressed her delight at receiving an OBE by declaring Britain to be her "adopted home".

The diminutive princess of pop, who has sold more than 60 million records in her 20-year career, led an eclectic array of New Year honours list recipients from the arts world, which also included the new chief executive of the Royal Academy, the author of the Spot children's books, the musician Jazzie B and the author Jacqueline Wilson.

Minogue, 39, thanked British fans for their support while she was recovering from breast cancer. She was diagnosed with the disease in 2005 and only returned to full-time performing this year.

Speaking from her native Australia, where she is spending Christmas with her family, she said: "I am almost as surprised as I am honoured. I feel deeply touched to be acknowledged by Britain, my adopted home in this way."

The singer was joined on the honours list by Sir Ian McKellen, the Shakespearean actor whose performances from King Lear to Magneto in Hollywood's X-Men films have made him one of Britain's leading and most bankable thespians. He is elevated to Companion of Honour, the order of 65 leading members of the arts, science and industry founded by George V.

Current members include Lucian Freud, Harold Pinter and Dame Judi Dench. Sir Ian, 68, said: "I am honoured to join an Order which includes such distinguished practitioners in the arts." Julie Walters, 57, one of Britain's most versatile and adored actors, who receives a CBE, is among an array of leading names from stage and screen to be honoured. Leslie Phillips, 83, best known as the plummy-voiced lothario of the Carry On films, is awarded a CBE and Richard Griffiths, 60, whose performances range from the predatory Uncle Monty in Withnail And I to Harry Potter's Uncle Vernon, receives an OBE.

Jacqueline Wilson, 62, the creator of the hugely successful Tracy Beaker books, is made a Dame.

Beresford Romeo, 44, better known as the impresario and music producer Jazzie B, who founded the 1990s urban dance collective Soul II Soul, is awarded an OBE.

Hanif Kureishi, 53, who has written on topics such as race and sexuality for two decades, is made CBE.

Cahal Milmo

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