Theatre News

Sophie Okonedo, Michael Palin, Twiggy and Thandie Newton feature on the Queen's New Year's Honours List

The Honours list has recognised key figures in the arts including Michael Palin, designer Bunny Christie and writer Phillip Pullman

Thandie Newton and Sophie Okonedo
Thandie Newton and Sophie Okonedo

© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The Queen's New Year's Honours list has been announced, recognising key figures in the arts including Thandie Newton, Sophie Okonedo, entertainer Michael Palin and Twiggy.

Okonedo, who recently won an Evening Standard Award for her performance in Antony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre, was made CBE for her services to drama, while Twiggy was made Dames Commander for services to fashion, arts and charity. Newton, known for her roles this year in Westworld and Star Wars spin-off Solo, was made OBE for services to film and to charity. Palin receives a KCMG for his services to travel, culture and geography.

Theatre designer Bunny Christie was made OBE for her services to theatre, as was Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter. Theatre and film director Alby James, whose credits include the 1990 West End production of August Wilson's Fences, was also made OBE.

Talawa Theatre executive director Natasha Bucknor was made MBE, as was Theatre Peckham founder Teresa Early. Wilfred Pyper received the same honour for his services to musical theatre and drama in Northern Ireland. Leicester poet and playwright Carol Leeming was made MBE for services to arts and culture in the city.

Chair of Arts and Business Scotland Diana Murray was made CBE for services to the cultural and historic environment in Scotland, while Lady Lucy French, who was director of development at the St James Theatre (now The Other Palace) and aided the theatre's redevelopment over the last decade, was made OBE for her services to the arts and young people.

Vivien Wallace, executive director of development of the Old Vic, was made MBE for her services to theatre, arts education and the community in London. The same award was given to Timothy Yealland, head of education at English Touring Opera.

In dance, Richard Alston received a knighthood for services to dance, while choreographer Anthony van Laast (who has worked on West End shows including Tina and Mamma Mia!) was made CBE. The former principal of London Contemporary Dance School Veronica Lewis was also made CBE for services to higher education in dance, drama and circus arts.

Farooq Chaudhry, co-founder and producer of the Akram Khan Company, was made OBE for services to dance and dance production, while Sujata Banerjee, founder of Sujata Banerjee Dance Company, was made MBE. Pratap Pawar received the same award for services to dance, culture and community cohesion.

In literature, Margaret Atwood was honoured with the Order of the Companions of Honour. Philip Pullman, whose works include His Dark Materials, The Ruby in the Smoke and Grimm Tales (all of which have been adapted for the stage) was knighted, while children's author Julia Donaldson, responsible for characters like Stick Man and the Gruffalo, was made CBE.

Elsewhere, director Christopher Nolan was made CBE for his services to film. Former Riverside Studios director David Gothard was made CBE for services to cinema and drama, while former chairman of the board of governors at Guildhall School of Music and Drama John Bennett was made MBE.

Babette Langford, who oversees Teddington-based musical theatre school The Young Set, was made Medallist of the Order of the British Empire, as were David Johnson, founder of the Oldham Theatre Workshop and Irene Hayes of Superarts Academy in Southwark.

Featured In This Story