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Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Queen grants Rolf royal portrait
Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris wants to create an "impressionistic" oil painting
The Queen is to have her portrait painted by Rolf Harris as part of her 80th birthday celebrations.

She will have a formal sitting with the Australian entertainer for a Rolf on Art special for BBC One. Harris said he was "thrilled to bits".

When the BBC put the idea to Buckingham Palace, they were told the Queen would be delighted to take part.

She will celebrate her 80th birthday next April and the show will go out later this year or in early 2006.

More than 120 official portraits of the Queen have been painted during her life.

I want to get the real person rather than the state image
Rolf Harris
Harris said his oil painting would be "impressionistic" rather than "photographic".

He hoped it would also be "representational of the way the Queen looks and her obvious charm and friendly quality, rather than the very formal", he added.

"I want to get the real person rather than the state image," said Harris, who has been made an MBE and OBE.

BBC One controller Peter Fincham said the programme would be "a unique television event".

Portrait of the Queen
More than 120 official portraits of the Queen have been made
"It's a huge coup for the BBC to be able to show Rolf painting such a great supporter of the arts, the Queen," he said.

"We're delighted that permission has been granted - it's a painting everyone will want to see."

Rolf on Art began in 2001, breaking the record for the highest audience for a visual arts programme. There have been four series so far.

Some have praised the show for making art accessible but it has been criticised by others who say it is a sign that the BBC has "dumbed down" its arts coverage.

Harris, who trained as a fine artist, has also fronted shows including Animal Hospital, Cartoon Time and Rolf's Cartoon Club.

He became a household name in the 1960s after successful forays into the pop charts with songs including Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, Sun Arise and Two Little Boys.

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