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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 16:06 GMT
Pauline Collins receives OBE
Pauline Collins OBE
Collins: A teacher before taking to the stage
Actress Pauline Collins said she was "amazed" after receiving an OBE at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.

Ms Collins, 61, received the honour from the Queen for her services to drama.

"I was amazed that I should be awarded anything - I think I said 'What's it for?'" said Ms Collins after the ceremony.

The actress, probably best-known for her portrayal of Liverpudlian housewife Shirley Valentine in the film of the same name, also said that she was "stupefied" when she was first told about the honour.

And she said that when she received a phone call from 10 Downing Street, she thought Tony Blair wanted her support in the General Election.

The actress's career stretches back over 40 years, with performances in some of Britain's most loved television programmes.

Cameo role

Born in Exmouth in 1940, she was raised near Liverpool and started out as a teacher.

Pauline Collins and John Alderton
Husband John Alderton is a highly-rated comic actor
Her love of the stage led her to take up acting on a part-time basis, and in 1957 she had a cameo role as a nurse in the Emergency Ward 10 TV series.

After a number of stage roles, she used her Liverpool accent to get a role on the BBC's The Liver Birds.

It was through acting that she met husband John Alderton.

They married in 1969 and have three adult children, Nicholas, Kate, and Richard.

Olivier award

Alderton and Collins have starred alongside each other in a number of television and film roles, such as ITV's Upstairs, Downstairs - the role that shot Collins to international fame.

In 1988, Collins first played the title role of Shirley Valentine at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. She won that year's Olivier Award for Best Actress.

Pauline Collins OBE
Pauline Collins in The Ambassador
The following year she opened in New York at the Booth Theatre with a repeat performance of the role.

The role won her the Theatre World Award, The Drama Desk Award, The Outer Critics Circle Award, The Drama League Award and a Tony Award, for Best Actress.

Her performance in Lewis Gilbert's 1989 film of Shirley Valentine also won her the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, the Bafta Award and an Academy Award nomination.

In 1991, Collins co-starred with Patrick Swayze in Roland Joffe's City of Joy, filmed in Calcutta. The film brought Collins further international acclaim and worldwide recognition.

Her most recent role is in the much acclaimed Paradise Road, which tells the story of a group of women in a Japanese prisoner of war camp who defy their captors by founding an orchestra.

See also:

17 May 01 | Film
Pauline's cabbage war
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