Thandie Newton, Michael Palin & Sophie Okonedo

New Year's Honours List for 2019: Thandie Newton, Michael Palin, Sophie Okonedo and more

The Queen honours a host of familiar names from the industry in 2019...

Tom Millward
Tom Millward

2019 is almost upon us and we at would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers the very best for a theatre-packed year in London's glittering West End and beyond! This time of year also sees a whole host of influential individuals receiving their just deserts as the Queen's New Year's Honours list is published and each year, key players in the arts are among those recognised. London Theatre congratulates all the 2019 recipients and would like to single out just a few of them today...

Currently wowing audiences and critics alike in the National Theatre production of Antony and Cleopatra, British actress and Tony Award winner Sophie Okonedo, has been made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for services to drama. Back in 2010, she had been appointed an OBE (Officer of the British Empire). This incredible performer's stage credits also include Haunted Child at the Royal Court in 2011 and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? at Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2017. She won a Tony Award for her Broadway debut in A Raisin in the Sun in 2014 and earned a Tony nomination for her turn in Arthur Miller's The Crucible in 2016. Film fans might know Okonedo best from her Oscar-nominated performance in "Hotel Rwanda".

Monty Python legend Michael Palin has received a knighthood in the 2019 honours list for services to travel, culture and geography and will henceforth be known as Sir Michael Palin. Although primarily known for his work in television and film, Palin made his debut as a playwright with The Weekend, starring Richard Wilson and premiering in the West End in 1994. More recently, he was seen on stage in the hugely successful Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go, with the four other remaining members of the popular comedy troupe, playing The O2 Arena for 10 sold-out shows in 2014. And of course, he also co-wrote "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" - the source material for one of our favourite West End musicals.. Spamalot!

Another famous face recognised this year is actress Thandie Newton, who receives an OBE for services to film and to charity. She made her West End debut in a gripping revival of Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2011. She has recently been hitting both the silver screen and small screen in high-profile offerings such as "Solo: A Star Wars Story," "Line of Duty," and "Westworld".

And there's a few other names we'd like to give a special mention to...

Four-time Emmy-nominated "Downton Abbey" favourite Jim Carter, who has worked extensively with the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Young Vic over the course of his career, has been named an OBE for services to theatre.

Designer Bunny Christie was also made an OBE for services to theatre for a career in set design that has garnered no less than three Olivier Awards and a Tony Award over the years.

Fashion icon Twiggy has received a damehood for services to fashion, arts and charity. Her many stage credits, spanning from the 1970s to the 2000s, include PygmalionBlithe Spirit, and Mrs. Warren's Profession, among others. She also earned a Tony Award nomination in 1983 for her Broadway debut in My One and Only.

Theatre and film director Alby James, whose credits include the 1990 West End production of August Wilson's Fences, has been honoured with an OBE.

MBEs (Member of the British Empire) were handed out for Theatre Peckham founder Teresa Early, Talawa Theatre executive director Natasha Bucknor, Wilfred Pyper (for services to musical theatre and drama in Northern Ireland), poet and playwright Carol Leeming (for services to arts and culture), head of education at English Touring Opera Timothy Yealland, executive director of development of the Old Vic Vivien Wallace (for services to theatre, arts education and the community in London), Sujata Banerjee, founder of Sujata Banerjee Dance Company, Pratap Pawar (for services to dance, culture and community cohesion), and former chairman of the board of governors at Guildhall School of Music and Drama John Bennett.

OBEs were awarded to Lady Lucy French, former director of development at the St James Theatre - now The Other Palace - (for services to the arts and young people), and Farooq Chaudhry, co-founder and producer of the Akram Khan Company (for services to dance and dance production).

Choreographer Anthony van Laast (whose West End credits include Tina and Mamma Mia!) was honoured with a CBE, as was Chair of Arts and Business Scotland Diana Murray (for services to the cultural and historic environment in Scotland), former principal of London Contemporary Dance School Veronica Lewis (for services to higher education in dance, drama and circus arts), former Riverside Studios director David Gothard (for services to cinema and drama), children's author Julia Donaldson (who has written the likes of The Gruffalo and Stick Man, which have been adapted for the West End stage), and popular movie director Christopher Nolan (for services to film).

Knighthoods also went to Richard Alston (for services to dance) and author Philip Pullman (whose works His Dark MaterialsThe Ruby in the Smoke and Grimm Tales have all been adapted for the stage).

Once again, congratulations to all of the 2019 Honours recipients!

(Thandie Newton photo credited to Ellie Kurttz, Sophie Okonedo photo credited to Johan Persson)


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