In the New Year’s Honors just announced in the UK — the annual gift of the Queen for notable achievements in all areas of public life, including the arts — actors Tom Courtenay, Paul Scofield, Patrick Stewart, Fiona Shaw, Zoe Wanamaker, Joss Ackland, Jim Davidson and Spike Milligan were among those anointed. Also honored were playwright Peter Shaffer, choreographer Matthew Bourne, and producer Bill Kenwright.
Tom Courtenay and Peter Shaffer received the highest honor: both are now Knights, and are therefore now Sirs, alongside such other previously dubbed actors as Antony Sher, Derek Jacobi, Alec McCowen and Donald Sinden, and playwrights Alan Ayckbourn and Tom Stoppard.
Named Order of Companion of Honor was Paul Scofield for services to drama, most recently in the National Theatre’s 1996 production of Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman.
Awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) were Joss Ackland (last seen in the West End in a revival of The Gin Game at the Savoy Theatre), and producer Bill Kenwright (currently responsible for the West End productions of O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night with Jessica Lange, and Coward’s Fallen Angels with Felicity Kendal and Frances de la Tour).
Honorary CBE’s — given to people who are not British citizens — were awarded to Irish citizen Fiona Shaw (about to perform the title role of Medea at the Queen’s Theatre) and U.S. citizen Zoe Wanamaker (soon to be seen in Mamet’s Boston Marriage at the Donmar Warehouse). OBE’s (Order of the British Empire) were awarded to choreographer Matthew Bourne (whose current production of The Car Man is nearing the end of its run at the Old Vic, but who is about to start work on choreographing Trevor Nunn’s new National Theatre staging of My Fair Lady), television personality and actor Jim Davidson (currently in Dick Whittington at the Hammersmith Apollo) and Patrick Stewart (who stirred up a Broadway controversy last year when he starred in Arthur Miller’s The Ride Down Mt. Morgan and, after publicly berating the producers for a lack of publicity, had to publicly apologize).