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Wednesday, December 31, 1997 Published at 07:05 GMT


Arise Sir Elton

Elton John, who moved millions and topped charts worldwide with his Candle in the Wind 1997 tribute at Princess Diana's funeral, is now Sir Elton.

The 50-year-old songwriter was among nearly 1,000 people given titles or other awards in the New Year honours list, along with veteran BBC DJ, Alan 'Fluff' Freeman, and singer Petula Clark.

Elton's knighthood comes only two years after his last honour. "When I was awarded my CBE I was totally flattered and overwhelmed.

"My joy at receiving this great new honour is immeasurable," said the flamboyant singer, who was born Reginald Dwight. The citation reads: "For services to music and charitable services."

Sir Elton's reworked version of the song he recorded in memory of Marilyn Monroe, became an instant hit and raised £20m for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

A CBE, not 'arf!

DJ Alan 'Fluff' Freeman, the 70-year-old King of the Pop Pickers, admitted he was "shell-shocked" at being made a CBE.

[ image: Disc jockey Alan 'Fluff' Freeman thought notification of his CBE was a tax demand]
Disc jockey Alan 'Fluff' Freeman thought notification of his CBE was a tax demand
He said: "I got this rather large white envelope marked 'On Her Majesty's Service' and I thought: 'Oh, gosh, this is a tax demand.'

"When I opened it I had to sit down for quite some time. I find it hard to believe. I really didn't think I was the sort of person to get an honour."

'I don't believe it!'

Annette Crosbie receives an OBE, just like her 'One Foot In The Grave' TV show co-star, Richard Wilson.

Grumpy duo Victor Meldrew, played by Mr Wilson, and long-suffering wife Margaret, played by Ms Crosbie, brought the second-highest seasonal TV ratings with more than 15 million viewers for this year's One Foot In The Grave Christmas special.

But Ms Crosbie, 63, confessed she was perplexed by the logic behind it. "I find it pretty baffling, I have to say," she said.

'My films are awful'

A knighthood goes to actor Michael Gambon, who starred in the TV series, The Singing Detective. And there is a CBE for Michael Grade, former Chief Executive of Channel 4, for services to broadcasting.

Singer Petula Clarke, 64, who has sold 68 million records over half a century, receives a CBE.

Surrey-born Miss Clark, 65, started out with her own BBC radio show Pet's Parlour in 1943, when she was 10 years old. She made 25 films for the Rank Organisation as a child star, which she now calls "awful".

Alan Howard, who has played six Shakespearean Kings - more than any other British actor - is also made a CBE.

'Slightly stunned'

Another veteran, Scottish-born actress Deborah Kerr, 76, who starred with Yul Brynner in The King and I, is made a CBE.

Miss Kerr said she was "slightly stunned" by her award. "I didn't expect it. It is exciting news.

"I am shocked by it. It is an honour that is special and I didn't think I would ever gain it," she said.

She will be remembered for rolling in the surf with Burt Lancaster in From Here To Eternity, a searingly sexual performance by the standards of 1953 which was cut by the censors.

Arthur C Clarke, author of '2001: A Space Odyssey' and 80 other volumes on space, science and the future, receives an honorary knighthood.

Click here for the New Year's honours list in full.

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