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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 00:00 GMT
OBE for musical actress Dickson
Honours graphic
The singer and actress Barbara Dickson was given an OBE
Singer and actress Barbara Dickson has been made an OBE in the New Year honours list for services to music and drama.

An Olivier award this year confirmed her status as one of the most popular and versatile actresses and singers in British musical theatre - but Barbara has said that she sees herself as a folk singer who got lucky.

The 53-year-old singer turned actress has starred in smash hit musicals such as Blood Brothers and Spend, Spend, Spend, television series such as Band of Gold and The Missing Postman, and had a string of hit singles and albums.

Born in Dunfermline, Fife, in 1948, her father was a cook on a tugboat at Rosyth Dockyard and her mother a strong-willed Liverpudlian.

Barbara Dickson OBE
Barbara Dickson: Versatile

Barbara once said: "I think if there'd been a rep theatre in Dunfermline I might have gone into acting earlier.

"But I never saw theatre as a girl and I don't come from the kind of background where people go to drama school."

Instead, she started work at 16 as a civil servant in the Registrar General's Office in Edinburgh.

At night she sung in the folk clubs of the Scottish capital.

After giving up the day job to concentrate on her blossoming singing career her big break came in 1974 when she was offered a role in Willy Russell's "John, Paul, George, Ringo - and Bert".

Best-selling single

After an extended run at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre, the show transferred to London's West End for a highly successful year.

In the late 70s, Barbara became a household name with a string of hit albums and singles such as "January, February" and "The Caravan Song".

She also became a regular fixture on television shows, such as "The Two Ronnies".

Her popularity reached new heights in 1985 with the best-selling single "I Know Him So Well", recorded with Elaine Paige.

The song stayed at No. 1 for weeks, becoming the biggest selling record ever by a female duo.

The song's continued popularity was displayed this Christmas when teenypop favourites Steps released a cover version.

Barbara's album "All for a Song" stayed in the charts for almost a year, selling more than 600,000 copies in Britain alone.


I never saw theatre as a girl and I don't come from the kind of background where people go to drama school.

Barbara scored another success when she was reunited with Willy Russell to play the lead role of Mrs. Johnstone in "Blood Brothers".

She made the role her own and was awarded a Society of West End Theatres Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

She also undertook a host of concert tours playing sold out shows in every major town and city in the UK including the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Barbara has continued her success throughout the 90s with a string of hit albums, acting roles in television series such as Band of Gold, Taggart and The Missing Postman and theatre roles.

She starred in the critically-acclaimed "The 7 Ages of Woman" before taking on the role as Viv Nicholson in the musical "Spend, Spend, Spend".

The story showcases in words and music the downfall of a Sixties housewife who blew a Pools win fortune in a massive spending spree.

She lives in Lincolnshire, with her husband Oliver Cookson and their three children, Colm, 13, Gabriel 11, and nine-year-old Archie.

See also:

26 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Barbara's bonanza year
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