Sheila Hancock, Suchet in New Year honours list

Sheila Hancock was ‘surprised’ how pleased she was to be awarded a CBE for services to drama.

The 77-year-old actress, who has had a long career ranging from the Royal Shakespeare Company plays to a Carry On film and the recent West End adaptation of Sister Act, said she kept the secret to herself since a letter arrived telling her the news.

And Sheila vowed not to make the same mistake she made when she accepted her OBE in 1974.

She said: “I borrowed an outfit from a dear friend, a designer, and it was made from pigskin. They stick a pin into your outfit for the Queen to hang the award from and of course the pin wouldn’t go in.

“It had to be forced in and I gave back this outfit with a great big hole in it.”

David Suchet, 64, also receives a CBE for services to drama. The popular actor has played a huge variety of roles on stage and screen, but he is best known as Agatha Christie’s debonair Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in the long-running ITV series.

A CBE is awarded to Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen, 41, who directed the 2008 film Hunger about the 1981 hunger strike by Republican prisoners in Northern Ireland.

Elsewhere in the film world, OBEs go to costume designer Sandy Powell, 50, who has won Oscars for her work on Shakespeare In Love, The Aviator and The Young Victoria, Andrea Arnold, 49, director of Fish Tank, and Manchester-born Burt Kwouk, 80, best known as Cato in the Pink Panther movies.

Award-winning actress Harriet Walter, 60, who has appeared in scores of plays, TV dramas and films, is made a dame.