Birthday Honours 2013: Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson lead TV recipients
Story by Jack Foley
BLACKADDER duo Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson have both been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Atkinson has been made a CBE for services to drama and charity, while Robinson – who played hapless manservant Baldrick in the popular BBC comedy – has received a knighthood in recognition of his public and political service.
Robinson has had a lengthy association with politics, first as a local Labour activist and then in a senior position at actors’ union Equity, which he is credited with helping modernise.
He joined Labour Party’s National Executive Committee in 2000.
His acting career began on the West End Stage with a role as one of Fagin’s gang of children in the musical Oliver! and he has since become the public face of archaeology by completing 250 digs with Channel 4’s Time Team, which finally came to an end last year.
The honour recognises his political and public service and the 66-year-old commented: ““I’m thrilled, flattered and a little gobsmacked to have received this recognition from my country. I’ll use my new title with abandon to highlight the causes I believe in, particularly the importance of culture, the arts and heritage in our society, and the plight of the infirm, elderly and their carers.
“I also pledge that from this day on I’ll slaughter all unruly dragons, and rescue any damsels in distress who request my help.”
Atkinson – who ironically served as Robinson’s master in Blackadder – was made a CBE and said the news came as a “genuine surprise” and a “great honour”.
Aside from the iconic role of Blackadder, Atkinson has found world-wide fame as Mr Bean, the hapless character who has even spawned two movies and appeared during the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, as well as on the big screen as another hapless hero – in this case, the spy Johnny English.
Comedian and actor Rob Brydon has been made an MBE for services to comedy and broadcasting and to charity.
He joked: “I accept it not just for me but for short Welsh men everywhere.” But he added: “This is a great honour and an even greater surprise.”
The 48-year-old made his name in the black comedy Marion and Geoff and has enjoyed a varied career ever since as a comedian, TV presenter and actor.
Last year, for instance, he co-starred with Steve Coogan to great acclaim for Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip and made his West End stage debut (in a revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s A Chorus of Disapproval alongside Ashley Jensen and Nigel Harman) as well as being one of the hosts for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert in London.
Further career highlights include playing Uncle Bryn in Gavin And Stacey and voicing Snake in The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.
He’s also a regular panellist on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year and QI and hosts both Would I Lie to You? and The Rob Brydon Show.
Another TV presenter, Clare Balding, who recently collected an honorary Bafta in recognition of her on-screen achievements during The Olympics and Paralympics, has been made an OBE, also for services to broadcasting and journalism.
The 42-year-old described the honour as “the pinnacle” in “a year of unexpected delights”.
Originally a racing commentator, she became a household name after presenting both the London 2012 Olympics and The Paralympics. She currently fronts Channel 4 racing.
Veteran actress Claire Bloom, who featured in hits such as the original Brideshead Revisited and Doctor Who, has been made a CBE.
Other roles include two prominent BBC Television productions for director Rudolph Cartier: firstly, co-starring with Sean Connery in Anna Karenina in 1961 and then playing Cathy in Wuthering Heights alongside Keith Michell as Heathcliff in1962.
She also appeared as First Lady Edith Wilson in Backstairs at the White House, as Joy Gresham, the wife of C.S. Lewis, in Shadowlands (for which she received the BAFTA Award as Best Actress in 1985), as the older Sophy in the 1992 mini-series The Camomile Lawn on Channel 4 and in the final story of David Tennant’s run of Doctor Who as ‘The Woman’.