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CBE for Carry On actor Phillips
Leslie Phillips in 2004
Phillips was born in Tottenham, north London, on 20 April 1924

Leslie Phillips, the comic actor who has become a CBE in the New Year Honours List, gained fame for his suave manner and the elongated delivery of his catchphrase "hello".

But the star, who is now 83, prefers people to think of his "serious" acting roles rather than the raffish character he portrayed in the classic Carry On films.

He was already on stage at the age of 10, when he was given a role in Peter Pan at the London Palladium.

And after a spell in the Army during World War II, he took up acting as a profession in the 1950s, but not before he lost his cockney accent.

"In those days you couldn't be an actor if you had a regional accent," he explained.

He had parts in more than 30 films during the 1950s, and his profile grew when he appeared on The Navy Lark, a long-running radio sitcom on the BBC's Light Programme.

Leslie Phillips (centre) in Casanova in 1973
Phillips played a cad in the 1973 innuendo-laden show Casanova
Phillips played an error-prone sailor in a show inspired by Jon Pertwee's wartime memories.

"I caused more damage to Naval property than the Navy had done in two world wars," he once said of his character.

The release of Carry On Nurse and Carry On Teacher in 1959, and then Carry On Constable the following year, earned him fame among British cinema audiences.

He continued to be associated with the films for years afterwards, something he attributed to the regular screenings they received on TV. They were "flogged to death" by broadcasters, he said.

Phillips was seen in a series of lesser roles throughout the 1960s and '70s.

But the mid-1980s saw a change of direction, as he sought to prove his more highbrow credentials.

Leslie Phillips in The Navy Lark
He starred as a hopeless sub-lieutenant in radio's The Navy Lark
He was a prisoner of war in Empire of the Sun, directed by Steven Spielberg, having appeared in Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa and a Chekhov play, The Cherry Orchard.

Another Carry On appearance featured among his 1990s film and TV roles, as King Ferdinand in 1992's Carry On Columbus.

More recently, his voice was heard as the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

And 2006 saw the release of Venus, a comedy in which he starred with Peter O'Toole - and bagged a Bafta nomination for best supporting actor.

Phillips was appointed an OBE nine years ago in recognition of his acting career.

Asked whether he thought he might one day be knighted, he said: "I wouldn't like to say that... but do hurry up, please!"

The veteran star had four children with his first wife, Penelope Bartley. This year saw Phillips and his second wife, Angela Scoular, celebrating their silver wedding anniversary.



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