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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November, 2004, 16:56 GMT
Queen honours TV and dance stars
Richard Whiteley
Television host Richard Whiteley has received an OBE from the Queen at a Buckingham Palace ceremony.

The Countdown presenter, from Ilkley, West Yorkshire, joins co-host Carol Vorderman in the honours. She was made an MBE in 2000.

"She's got two consonants and a vowel, I've got two vowels and a consonant, but vowels are more useful," he joked.

Veteran dancer and choreographer Frederic Franklin, 90, was also made a CBE at the ceremony.

Whiteley said his OBE had topped a big year for him. The show made its debut in 1982 on Channel 4's first day of broadcasting.

"Countdown has celebrated its 21st year and, sadly, it's my 60th," he said.

"My business is words, but I feel I've run out. I'm just thrilled."

The presenter - who gained the nickname "Twice Nightly Whiteley" after a spell presenting both Countdown and ITV's local news in Yorkshire - added: "The Queen Mother used to tune in and I'm told the Queen also likes to watch the show."

Royal Ballet

Frederic Franklin, who recently appeared on stage with the American Ballet Theatre, began his career in 1931 at the Casino de Paris with Josephine Baker.

On returning to England he danced with the Vic-Wells - now the Royal Ballet - before joining the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1938, as a premier dancer.

Franklin, who was born in Liverpool in 1914, went on to co-found the Slavenska-Franklin Ballet and was founder director of the National Ballet in Washington.

Earlier this month he made his debut at London's Covent Garden as a choreographer with the Royal Ballet.

He said: "I told the Queen that this was the most wonderful day of my life."

Asked what was the secret of his vitality, he replied: "Being around young dancers all day helps because they don't allow you to get old.

"I love what I do and I've always had a natural energy."

Watch the 'real life Billy Elliot' receive his CBE

Whiteley gets an OBE in honours
12 Jun 04 |  West Yorkshire

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