A host of leading figures from the world of arts and entertainment have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

They include two Connollys, a winner of the Eurovision Song Contest and a veteran Hollywood actress who turns 101 this year.

Billy Connolly, the Scottish comedian and actor known to millions as ‘The Big Yin’, receives a knighthood for services to entertainment and charity.

The 74-year-old told the BBC he was “very pleased” by an honour that was “never on the horizon” when he was growing up in Glasgow in the 1940s and ’50s.

“It’s so odd for someone from that background to get [a knighthood],” said the former welder who began his show-business career as a folk singer.

“It always feels strange to be welcomed into the establishment but I feel completely comfortable with it,” he continued.

Ed Sheeran has even more reason to be cheerful, having been made an MBE for services to music and charity.

The chart-topping singer-songwriter released his third album, Divide, earlier this year and will be the headline act on the last night of the Glastonbury Festival next weekend.

Julie Walters, an actress whose long career in film, television and theatre has shown her to be as adept as comedy as she is with drama, has been made a dame.

Much-loved for her TV collaborations with the late Victoria Wood, she has starred in such films as Educating Rita, Billy Elliot and the Harry Potter series and was recently seen in Channel 4’s National Treasure.

June Whitfield, another actress with a long history of beloved television comedy, has also been made a dame.

The 91-year-old star of Terry and June and Absolutely Fabulous told the BBC the honour had come as “a great surprise”.

“I never in a million years thought I would become a dame,” said the actress, who received an OBE in 1985 and a CBE in 1998.

“I’ve met some of the other dames and it’s absolutely wonderful to join the club.”

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and author JK Rowling have become companions of honour alongside designer Sir Terence Conran and cookery expert Delia Smith.

“I’m very happy about this huge honour and with the news coming on my birthday weekend and Father’s Day it makes it colossal!” said Sir Paul, who turns 75 on Sunday.

“I’m deeply honoured and proud to be nominated for this honour for services to literature and philanthropy and to be included in the distinguished and diversely talented company of the other Companions of Honour,” said Harry Potter creator Rowling.

Olivia de Havilland, the veteran Hollywood actress who played Scarlett O’Hara’s sister-in-law in Gone with the Wind, receives a damehood just a few weeks before she turns 101.

The double Oscar winner, who was born in Tokyo to British parents on 1 July 1916, becomes the oldest woman to become a dame since the modern-day honours system began.

“I am extremely proud that the Queen has appointed me a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire,” said the star of such films as The Heiress, The Snake Pit and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

“To receive this honour as my 101st birthday approaches is the most gratifying of birthday presents.”

He’s a best-selling author, a judge on Britain’s Got Talent and he’s swum both the English Channel and the length of the Thames for Sport Relief.

Now comedian and writer David Walliams has been made an OBE for services to charity and the arts – something he says will be cherished most by his mother Kathleen.

“The news made me happy, but nobody is happier than my mum,” the 45-year-old Little Britain star told the Press Association.

She’s always been a smooth operator. Now sultry singer-songwriter Sade – real name Helen Folasade Adu – has a CBE to add to the OBE she received in 2002.

Emeli Sande, meanwhile, becomes an OBE for services to music. The Scottish singer memorably performed at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics.

Author and illustrator Raymond Briggs, creator of The Snowman and and Fungus the Bogeyman, becomes a CBE at the age of 83.

This picture, taken in London’s Hyde Park in 2008, shows him and a friend seated next to a deckchair adorned with perhaps his best-loved character.

Broadcaster Gloria Hunniford becomes an OBE for services to cancer charities through breast screening services and cancer support. The 77-year-old sadly lost her daughter Caron to cancer in 2004.

June Spencer, another broadcasting veteran, becomes a CBE. The 98-year-old actress, who plays Peggy Woolley on The Archers, is the only original cast member who can still be heard on Radio 4’s long-running rural soap.

Spencer said her CBE was “an unexpected and great honour”, while Huw Kennair-Jones, editor of The Archers, said it was “incredibly well deserved”.

Patricia Hodge and Sarah Lancashire both become OBEs for services to drama.

Hodge is known for such shows as Miranda, Rumpole of the Bailey and The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, while former Coronation Street star Lancashire won a Bafta this year for the BBC’s Happy Valley.

Both Tony Hawks and Natasha Kaplinsky are known to millions for their radio and television work. Yet both have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for their activities outside the studio.

Hawks becomes an MBE for services to disadvantaged children in Moldova, while Kaplinsky has been made an OBE for services to Holocaust commemoration.

Kaplinsky is a member of the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation advisory board and has spent the past 15 months voluntarily interviewing 112 British survivors.

“Obviously this is a huge honour to receive an OBE but it gives me an opportunity to talk about the extraordinary people that I’ve met throughout this project,” said the ITV newsreader and former Strictly Come Dancing winner.

Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw has been made an MBE, as has writer and director Amma Asante.

The pair worked together on 2013 film Belle, which told the real life story of a mixed-race woman who was brought up as an aristocrat in 18th Century London.

Model Erin O’Connor becomes an MBE for services to fashion and charity, while Sandie Shaw is made an MBE for services to music and charity.

Shaw, now 70, became the United Kingdom’s first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest when she sang Puppet on a String in Vienna in 1967.

Mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly has been made a dame, while the conductor and composer George Benjaminbecomes a sir.

Connolly – who is not related to her namesake Billy – was made a CBE in the 2010 New Year honours, while Benjamin received the same honour six months later.

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Coming live from the BBC’s Elstree studios on Friday 17 November, the night will feature a spectacular star-studded line-up as they join together to help raise money for disadvantaged children and young people across the UK.

Hosting BBC Children in Need for the first time, Mel Giedroyc says: “Tess. Ade. Graham. Rochelle. Marvin. The Power Rangers of the presenting world. I feel honoured to be joining their ranks and bagsy wear the blue all-in-one body-stocking-slash-helmet combo.”

Presenting the show for a second time, Graham Norton says of the charity: “BBC Children in Need helps so many children and young people up and down the country. Presenting the show is a lovely thing to be a part of; it’s a celebration of the best of people.”

Long-term supporter of BBC Children in Need, Tess Daly says of the Appeal: “I love presenting the live show, I love the adrenaline rush of it. The Great British public dig deep for BBC Children in Need as it’s a charity close to people’s hearts, raising vital money for children in the UK.”

Returning again in 2017, Ade Adepitan says of the show: “I am very excited and extremely proud to be presenting BBC Children in Need again with Tess, Graham, Marvin and Rochelle. The charity has been an incredible force for good in the UK, helping some of the most vulnerable people when they most need it. To be asked to play a part in helping these people is a real honour. I’m looking forward to a fabulous evening of tears, entertainment and most of all laughter. Get your popcorn and your tissues ready – it’s going be an incredible night!”

Rochelle Humes says of the charity: “BBC Children in Need has played such a big part in everyone’s life, including my own, ever since I was at school. It holds such a close connection with those around us and year on year we see the incredible impact it makes to those children who are in need, which is why so many want to get on board and help this wonderful cause. On the night itself, we have some amazing things for everyone at home to enjoy, so don’t forget to tune in and do all you can to make a difference!”

Also returning in 2017 is Marvin Humes, who says: “It’s so nice to be back again hosting. Last year was the first time Rochelle and I were part of the show together. We absolutely loved it. BBC Children in Need is such a great British institution. It’s incredible and a dream come true to be supporting once again.”

Further exciting news regarding the performances, sketches and content which viewers can enjoy on the night will be shared in due course. The BBC Children in Need Appeal Show is a BBC Studios production, executive produced by Clare Pizey and Leanne Witcoop.


Sam Black is set to make his return to The X Factor, joining Louis Walsh‘s Boys at Judges’ Houses!

Following Anthony Russell‘s exit from the competition due to personal reasons, Louis has decided that Sam is the man to replace him, despite leaving the show at Boot Camp.

Louis explained: “Anthony has been fantastic across the series, a great singer and performer who we are really sad to see go. I had to think for a long time who could take the place.

“Sam had a great reaction from the British public when his Audition aired. So I re-watched it and realised we missed a trick not putting him through atBoot Camp. He has that retro 60s style viewers will love. He’s really likeable and talented and I can’t wait to hear more.”

Sam – who caused a stir at Boot Camp by proposing to his girlfriend on stage – added: “Obviously, I feel terrible for Anthony because he is not only an amazing singer but also a lovely guy.

“He has even messaged me good luck. I really appreciate the second chance I’ve been given and I feel so lucky to get this opportunity. My family and I are over the moon.”

You can catch Sam in action when The X Factor hits Judges’ Houses on Saturday 21st October, 8.20pm and Sunday 22nd October, 7pm on ITV.