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Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 15:55 GMT
Sir Cliff's arts honour
Sir Cliff received his award from Cherie Blair
Pop legend Sir Cliff Richard has been honoured at one of Britain's most high-brow arts awards ceremonies.

After another year of chart-topping success, Sir Cliff, 59, walked away with the prize for Outstanding Achievement at this year's South Bank Awards in London.

Seamus Heaney bagged his second award in two days
Poet Seamus Heaney bagged the award for literature for his translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf - only two days after scooping the prestigious Whitbread Book of the Year title for the same work.

The event - a spin-off from London Weekend Television's prestigious arts programme The South Bank Show presented by Melvyn Bragg - was held at London's Savoy Hotel.

Prime Minister's wife Cherie Blair presented the award to Sir Cliff, whose title recognises a lifetime of contribution to the world of arts and entertainment.

Chart-topper

Sir Cliff, knighted in 1996, is no stranger to success after more than 40 years in showbusiness.

He enjoyed the latest of his 14 number ones just before Christmas when his single The Millennium Prayer - which set the words of The Lord's Prayer to the music of Auld Lang Syne - topped the charts.

The show's TV presenter Melvyn Bragg also hosted the ceremony
Nethertheless, he modestly described his award as "beyond my dreams" and said he was glad of the opportunity to mix with other artists of the pop world.

But he jokingly added that arts ceremonies were like a supermarket, saying: "We are all a choice. There's no one fabulous art form - apart from pop singing."

Another accolade at this year's ceremony - which also hands out awards for visual arts, dance, opera, television drama and theatre - went to last year's movie blockbuster Shakespeare in Love.

The Oscar and BAFTA winning movie, starring Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow, took the prize in the cinema category. In pop, Asian dance musician Nitin Sawhney was awarded for his album Beyond Skin.

While the BBC's hard-hitting drama Warriors, about the war in Bosnia and starring Ioan Gruffudd, was honoured in the television drama category.
Actors Ralph Fiennes and Francesca Annis were among the guests
The ceremony was attended by a host of celebrities including actress Joanna Lumley, acting couple Francesca Annis and Ralph Fiennes, comedian Steve Coogan and Bob Geldof.

It was introduced by its TV host Melvyn Bragg while classical musician Julian Lloyd Webber performed an updated version of the theme tune his brother Andrew wrote for the series.

The event will be transmitted on Sunday 30 January at 22.45GMT on ITV.


Full list of winners

Visual Arts
Gary Hulme for his exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Dance
Siobhan Davies for Wild Air.

Literature
Seamus Heaney for Beowulf.

Comedy
Bremner , Bird and Fortune on Channel Four.

Popular Music
Nitin Sawhney for Beyond Skin.

Opera
Glyndebourne Opera for Pelleas et Melisande.

Classical music
Joanna MacGregor for Harrison's Clocks.

Television drama
Warriors from Deep Indigo Productions for BBC One.

Theatre
Summerfolk from the Royal National Theatre.

Cinema
Shakespeare in Love directed by John Madden.

See also:

27 Jan 00 | Entertainment
11 Jan 00 | Entertainment
06 Dec 99 | Entertainment
03 Dec 99 | Talking Point
21 Jan 99 | Entertainment
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