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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Queen's honour for Attenborough
Sir David Attenborough and a gorilla in the Life on Earth series
A famous encounter
TV naturalist Sir David Attenborough and former House of Commons Speaker Baroness Boothroyd have been awarded the Order of Merit by the Queen.

The honour, founded in 1902 by Edward VII and a personal gift of the monarch, is awarded for exceptional distinction in the arts, sciences and other areas.

Lady Boothroyd, who was the first woman Speaker of the Commons, said she was "greatly honoured" at the award.

Oxford history Professor Sir Michael Howard was also given the honour.

The broadcasting career of Sir David, 78, has spanned more than 50 years, with acclaimed series including The Living Planet, The Trials of Life and The Life of Mammals.

The 13-part series Life on Earth, written and presented by Sir David in 1978, was alone watched by an estimated 500 million people worldwide.

In 1965 he was appointed controller of BBC2 and was responsible for the introduction of colour television into Britain. From 1969 to 1973 he was the BBC's director of programmes.

Baroness Boothroyd
'Call me madam'
Lady Boothroyd was the first Commons Speaker not to wear the traditional wig and when asked how she should be addressed, famously said: "Call me madam."

The 75-year-old said on Thursday: "I would like to think [the honour] is in recognition of my services to Parliament over many years and, of course, my Speakership of the House of Commons.

"It is also, I believe, a reflection of my Chancellorship of the Open University, of which I am very proud."

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