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Friday, 31 December, 1999, 01:30 GMT
Trio of Dames lead showbiz honours

Dame Elizabeth Taylor: One of Hollywood's living legends is honoured

Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor heads a huge list of names from cinema, music and television who are commended in the New Year's Honours list.

The 67-year-old actress becomes a Dame for her services to the acting profession over the past five decades.

Also becoming a Dame is Julie Andrews, star of Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music. Singing star Shirley Bassey is the third Dame in the entertainment world.

Shirley Bassey in 1957: Award for one of Wales' most famous daughters
Former James Bond Sean Connery has his knighthood confirmed, as does comedian Norman Wisdom.

The 84-year-old performer called it "smashing news".

"When I think back to when I was a 14-year-old errand boy at Liptons in London, I could never have dreamt that I would one day become Sir Norman," he said.

"I am both thrilled and honoured to be recognised with such an honour."

Classical composer John Tavener, whose music is part of New Year celebrations at the Millennium Dome, also becomes a knight.

I could never have dreamt that I would one day become Sir Norman
Sir Norman Wisdom
Former Monty Python comedian Michael Palin becomes a CBE for his services to television.

He said: "It's clearly an award for travel and the travel documentaries I've made, so if anything it's a recognition of my attempts to show a wider world and increase one's knowledge and appreaciation of the world outside Britain."

The same honour goes to Richard Curtis, writer of the hit film Notting Hill and TV comedy Blackadder.

There are also CBEs for writers Ian McEwan, Pat Barker and actresses Dorothy Tutin and Harriet Walter. Teletubbies creator Anne Wood also becomes a CBE. She dedicated her award to "all children everywhere".

Sir Norman Wisdom: "Thrilled and honoured"
Actor Liam Neeson recieves an OBE for a film career including Schindler's List and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Jane Seymour also recieves an OBE, as do Alison Steadman and Timothy Spall, both known for their work with the director Mike Leigh.

In music, Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler gets an OBE, as does jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine and 89-year-old Latin American music pioneer Edmondo Ros. Songwriter Albert Hammond, who penned hits such as The Air That I Breathe for The Hollies, and the Carpenters' When I Need You, also gets an OBE.

The creators of BBC sitcom Steptoe and Son, Alan Simpson and Ray Galton, both pick up OBEs, as does Men Behaving Badly producer Beryl Vertue.

Actor Martin Jarvis also receives an OBE, as does television presenter John Craven, who founded children's TV news bulletin Newsround as a young reporter in 1972.

Soap and glam rock feature in the MBE list which sees EastEnders star Barbara Windsor honoured alongside her Coronation Street counterpart Betty Driver.

Soap matriarch: Betty Driver, aka Berry Turpin to Coronation Street fans
Before EastEnders, Windsor was best-known for her saucy roles in the Carry On comedies. Speaking from her home, where she is recovering from flu, she said: "I feel like I've just gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, but I'm absolutely knocked out."

Driver - who plays Rovers Return barmaid Betty Turpin - had given up acting to run a pub when she was persuaded to join Coronation Street in 1969.

The 79-year-old actress said: "I am thrilled beyond all means, it is wonderful and I am really excited and nervous at the same time."

Slade singer Noddy Holder is gets an MBE for services to music. He initially thought news of the honour was a prank.

"At first when I got the letter saying I had been nominated I thought it was one of my pals having a joke.

"I didn't realise musicians got these things - I'm over the moon, it's a total shock," he said.

Actor Dave Prowse - known to a generation of children as the Green Cross Code man as well as Star Wars' Darth Vader - receives the award for for services to charity and road safety.

Sir Sean Connery: Finally gets his knighthood
Television gardener Alan Titchmarsh said he was "chuffed to bits" to recieve an MBE.

"I am stunned, it is completely out of the blue," he said.

"I am only a gardener and to get this honour for doing the job I love is wonderful."

Welsh entertainer Max Boyce also gains an MBE, as does Scottish actress Edith Macarthur.

Media executives honoured this year include outgoing BBC director-general Sir John Birt, who joins the peerage. He will leave the BBC at the end of January to become a cross-bencher in the House of Lords. Virgin Records founder Richard Branson receives a knighthood.

ITN's chief exectutive Stewart Purvis becomes a CBE, as does Humphrey Burton, who co-founded London Weekend Television in 1968. English National Opera director of music Paul Daniel becomes a CBE, while Bafta chairman Richard Price receives an MBE.

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See also:
30 Dec 99 |  UK
Knighthood for Branson
31 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Hollywood's favourite Dame
31 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Dame Julie: The sound of music
31 Dec 99 |  Wales
'Big Spender' Bassey becomes a Dame
31 Dec 99 |  Scotland
The name's Bond, Sir James Bond
31 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
Star Wars actor gets OBE
31 Aug 99 |  Entertainment
Taylor returns home
12 Apr 99 |  Entertainment
A Taylor-made award
18 Nov 99 |  Wales
Bassey will go world wide on the web
21 Dec 99 |  Scotland
'Spectacular U-turn' over Bond gong
16 Apr 99 |  Entertainment
Norman's stamp of approval
29 Oct 98 |  Entertainment
Wising up for the weekend

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