Queen's List Honours Atkins, Collins & BirkinDate: 18 June 2001
The Queen's Birthday Honours list has brought rewards for a number of the theatre world's major names, including the actress Eileen Atkins (pictured). Atkins was awarded Order of the British Empire, in addition to her existing CBE, and is therefore created a Dame. Two other OBEs have been bestowed on the actresses Pauline Collins and Jane Birkin.
Elsewhere, the comic actor Dudley Moore receives the CBE, alongside the producer Raymond Gubbay. Also honoured, with OBEs, are the theatre choreographer Arlene Phillips and the composer Leslie Bricusse, whose musical Dr Dolittle played in the West End in 1998.
Eileen Atkins was born in Birmingham and trained at the Guildhall in London. Her West End debut arrived in 1953, and she later became members of both the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre and Bristol Old Vic companies. Atkins' major break came with Franks Marcus' The Killing of Sister George, which transferred to Broadway. In the show she played the lesbian Childie for which she won an Evening Standard Drama award. The ensuing years found her in a host of major productions, including the role of Elizabeth I in Robert Bolt's Vivat! Vivat Regina. More recently, Atkins received an Oliver for her role of the Queen in Shakespeare's Cymbeline in 1988. Atkins' last West End appearance was in Yasmina Reza's The Unexpected Man (1998) at the Duchess and Barbican Pit, with Michael Gambon.
Although Pauline Collins is perhaps best known for her starring role in the film of Shirley Valentine, theatregoers also recognise her as the same character. Collins won the Best Actress Olivier for the part in 1988, and numerous awards when she repeated the performance a year later in New York. In addition to her film and television work, Collins' stage career has taken in The Importance of Being Earnest (Haymarket), Engaged (National), Rattle of a Simple Man (Savoy) and Shades (Albery).
Born of an actress mother in 1947, Jane Birkin attended the Kensington Academy where her acting career began. At the age of 17 she appeared in Ralph Richardson's Carving a Statue and then John Barry's musical Passion Flower Hotel. The inevitable transition to movies followed shortly after, and she became a major player in the French cinema world and married the singer Serge Gainsbourg. Birkin's OBE award is in recognition of her "services to acting and UK-French cultural relations".
Dudley Moore's first love may have been music, but his stage work also established him as an artist of renown. He appeared in the groundbreaking comedy revue Beyond the Fringe in London Hollywood and New York, and the late 1960s saw his theatrical career firmly established. This led to interest, and leading roles in such movies as Arthur, Lovesick and Wholly Moses. Moore was born with a foot deformity, spending much of his childhood in hospital, and in May 1999, he was diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain disease.
Raymond Gubbay has been promoting concerts for over thirty years and presents around 600 UK concerts annually. He has presented concerts at all major venues, including the current Romeo and Juliet at the Albert Hall. Arlene Phillips recently directed and choreographed the stage musical of Saturday Night Fever in London and New York. Her choreography work has embraced film, television and videos, and her West End credits include Time, Matador, Starlight Express and Grease.
by Gareth Thompson