New Year honours list: arise Sir Mark Rylance

Oscar-winning actor is knighted while Patricia Routledge and Kinks singer Ray Davies are among artists honoured

Mark Rylance has been awarded a knighthood, capping a year in which the veteran Shakespearean actor won an Oscar and two Baftas, as talent from across the performing arts was recognised in the New Year honours.

It is the first honour for the actor who played Thomas Cromwell in the BBC’s Wolf Hall and won an Oscar for his portrayal of Rudolph Abel in Bridge of Spies.

Speaking earlier this year, Rylance said he did not set much store by the various accolades he had collected over his career: “People say things about competing as actors and I know that is necessary to make a show out of it, but those actors are so good I feel I’m more of a spokesman when I win rather than better than the other nominees. I don’t take it too seriously.”

Patricia Routledge
Patricia Routledge. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Patricia Routledge, 87, best known as Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances, was among those in the world of theatre and television honoured with a damehood.

Speaking to the Guardian in 2011 ahead of a return to the stage at the National Theatre, Routledge said she still got fan mail from all over the world for the 1990s sitcom, and attempted to answer every letter.

The actor said it had not been a burden to be so closely identified with one character. “If everything focuses on that, it’s just too silly. But it would be churlish of me not to appreciate what it’s brought me. If a good number of people come into a theatre because they know me from the dreaded Mrs B, I couldn’t be happier.”

Richard Eyre.
Richard Eyre. Photograph: Hugo Glendinning

Richard Eyre, 73, the playwright and director and former artistic director of the National Theatre, was also awarded the Companion of Honour, while actor Helen McCrory was given an OBE following her critically acclaimed performances on stage at the National Theatre in both Medea and Deep Blue Sea, as well as on screen in the BBC series Peaky Blinders.

Ray Davies
Ray Davies. Photograph: Joseph Okpako/Redferns

Kinks frontman Ray Davies, 72, said he felt a mixture of joy and embarrassment on being awarded a knighthood for services to the arts. Despite the Kinks parting ways in 1996, Davies forged a solo career and two years ago collaborated on Sunny Afternoon, the Olivier-award wining musical based on his music and lyrics.

“This is for the people who supported my music over the years,” said Davies. “I’m kind of reluctant to collect rewards. I usually back out of ceremonies. I’m kind of a shy person.”

There was also a knighthood for veteran comedian Ken Dodd, who, despite being 89 and recently admitting his memory was beginning to fail, still performs lengthy musical and comedy shows that often run well past midnight. He said he was “highly tickled” to have been made a knight.

Dodd, who entered the Guinness Book of Records in the 1960s for telling 1,500 jokes in three hours, began his foray into comedy at 14 and built up a following for his speedily delivered one-liners. He has also had 19 songs enter the Top 40 over his career, with his version of Tears topping the UK charts for five weeks in 1965. Dodd said he had no plans to retire anytime soon, adding: “I’m very proud, I’m very, very happy and full of plumptiousness.”

Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel said he was “truly humbled” to be among those receiving a knighthood, an honour that was also given to Jeffrey Philip Tate, the chief conductor for the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, for services to British music overseas.

Naomie Harris, who played loyal crown servant Eve Moneypenny in James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre, received an OBE, as has Tim Pigott-Smith, 70, who made his break in The Jewel in the Crown in 1984 and was recently nominated for both an Olivier and a Tony award for his portrayal of the Prince of Wales in Mike Bartlett’s play King Charles III.

One of the few nods for the visual arts was a CBE for Chris Ofili, the Turner-prize winning painter who has represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and was one of the few British artists of African descent to emerge as part of the Young British Artist movement in the 1990s.


Hannah Ellis-Petersen

The GuardianTramp

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