Harwood leads Queen’s theatrical birthday honours

Published June 14, 2010

Playwright Ronald Harwood, whose double bill of Collaboration and Taking Sides played at the Duchess theatre last summer, has received a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sophie Okonedo and John Nettles were among the other recipients.

Harwood, who receives his knighthood for services to drama, started his theatrical career as Sir Donald Wolfit’s personal dresser between 1953 and 1958 before beginning his writing career in the 60s, publishing his first novel, All The Same Shadows, in 1961. In addition to his stage work, which includes Quartet, Mahler’s Conversion, An English Tragedy and The Dresser, Harwood has written the screenplays for films such as The Browning Version, Being Julia, Oliver Twist and The Pianist. He previously received a CBE in 1999.

Zeta-Jones, who also received a Tony Award for her performance in A Little Night Music this weekend, is made a CBE for services to the film industry and charity. Though she is best known for her work in blockbuster movies including The Mask Of Zorro, Chicago, Entrapment and Intolerable Cruelty, Zeta-Jones began her career on stage, appearing in the 1987 production of 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and in the 1989 English National Opera production of Street Scene.

She is joined as a CBE by former English National Ballet principals Thomas Edur and Agnes Oaks, for services to the Arts and UK/Estonia Cultural relations, and the Deputy Chair of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Lady Sainsbury, who is honoured for her services to the Arts.

RSC alumni John Nettles and Sophie Okonedo both receive OBEs for services to drama. Nettles may be best known for his crime solving abilities, clearing up the mean streets of Jersey in Bergerac and enforcing the law in the murder-filled country lanes of the quaint-yet-dangerous Midsummer, but the gifted Shakespearean performer has enjoyed two spells with the Stratford-based company. Okonedo, who has appeared on stage at the Young Vic and National Theatre, has also impressed on screen in Oliver Twist, Mrs Mandela and Hotel Rwanda, for which she received an Oscar nomination in 2005.

London theatre regular Anne Reid, whose credits include Happy Now?, Into The Woods and Epitaph For George Dillon, receives an MBE for services to drama, as do long-running Coronation Street stars Eileen Derbyshire and Barbara Knox. Actress Vicki Michelle, best known for her role in BBC sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo, receives an MBE for charitable services, and Fay Fullerton, Head of Production Costume at the Royal Opera House, who has also worked on the costumes for London productions including Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The Lion King, The Phantom Of The Opera and Priscilla Queen Of The Desert The Musical, has been awarded an MBE for services to dance and opera.

MA