Actors Michael Sheen (pictured), Liz Smith and Earl Cameron were amongst the names on the new year's honours list, announced earlier this week. Director Katie Mitchell was also recognised, receiving an OBE for services to drama.

Sheen, whose credits include films The Queen and the forthcoming Frost/Nixon, adapted from the Donmar Warehouse production in which he also starred, was also appointed an OBE. Prior to forging a successful television and film career, Sheen's stage credits included the National Theatre revival of Look Back in Anger, as well as The Homecoming, The Ends of the Earth, Henry V, Peer Gynt and, in the West End and on Broadway, playing Mozart in Peter Hall's production of Amadeus.

Katie Mitchell has enjoyed a prolific and often controversial directing career, often dividing critics with her radical interpretations of classic texts. She is an associate director at the National Theatre, where credits include Dream Play, The Seagull, Attempts on Her Life and The Waves.

Actress Liz Smith, best known for her role as Nana in BBC comedy The Royle Family, was awarded an MBE for services to drama. Smith, who only became a professional actress in her 50s, is primarily known for her television and film work, including TV comedies The Vicar of Dibley and 2point4 Children, however she also has various stage credits to her name, including When We Are Married at the National and Once a Catholic at the Wyndham's.

Elsewhere, 91-year-old Earl Cameron, one of the first black actors to become established on British television after major appearances in series including Doctor Who and The Andromeda Breakthrough, is appointed a CBE, while Maurice Marshall, chief electrician at Exeter's Northcott Theatre, receives an OBE.


The Stage newspaper has published its annual list of the 100 most influential people working in UK theatre. Leading the list for the fifth time since it was launched in 1997 and the second year in succession is producer Cameron Mackintosh, while his close rival and regular collaborator Andrew Lloyd Webber came second.

Actor David Tennant, who this year starred in the RSC's Hamlet, entered the top 20, becoming only the fifth actor ever to do so in the list's history, following Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Nigel Havers and Simon Russell Beale. Other new entries to the top 20 included Judy Craymer, producer of Abba musical Mamma Mia! on stage and screen.

Other notable names making the top spots included Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey in 11th and Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage, who is the highest riser, up from 13 to equal third place with the National Theatre's Nicholas Hytner. Prolific director Rupert Goold, director of Mackintosh's forthcoming revival of Oliver! in the West End, also makes the list as does playwright Harold Pinter, who died on Christmas Eve (See News, 25 Dec 2008).

- By Theo Bosanquet