McKellen, previously knighted in 1991, joins a select few to be named one of Britain's Companions of Honour — a group restricted to 65 living members, including the Queen. Tony and Olivier winner Richard Griffiths was among those named as Officers of the Order of the British Empire. Griffiths, who earned a Tony for The History Boys, will return to the Broadway stage in September 2008 starring in Equus opposite his fellow "Harry Potter" alumnus Daniel Radcliffe.
Also named OBE were Australian pop sensation Kylie Minogue, Jethro Tull fronter Ian Anderson, Trevor Romeo (alias Jazzie B), and godfather of British jazz Stan Tracey. Among those knighted on the Queen's list are British talk-show host Michael Parkinson, and best-selling children's author Jacqueline Wilson, who was made a dame.
In addition to renowned artists and public figures, numerous awards on the New Years Honours are bestowed to private individuals for their service to the country. A committee of civil servants selects the honorees from a list of nominations proposed by the government and general public. The honors are then bestowed by the queen.