Her Majesty the Queen of England has given a Knighthood to Blackadder actor Tony Robinson. Queen Elizabeth has knighted the actor as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. The Honours list also includes a CBE for his co-star in the television program, Rowan Atkinson.
Sir Tony is famed for his role as long-suffering manservant Baldrick to Atkinson’s Blackadder character on the BBC historical comedy series and his catchphrase “I have a cunning plan”.
Robinson was recognised for his public and political work and Atkinson’s Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) is for his services to drama and charity.
Sir Tony is best known for his acting career, which started on the West End Stage production of the musical Oliver! Robinson played a member Fagin’s gang of children in the show. But it is for his political and public service that he has been given his first honour.
He helped to modernise the acting union Equity when he served as its vice president and he took a place on Labour’s National Executive Committee in 2000. He also became the “face” of archaeology by completing 250 digs with Channel 4’s Time Team. The Time Team ran for a staggering 20 seasons on Channel 4 and only ended last year.
Rowan Atkinson worked with Sir Tony on Blackadder. The television program ran for four seasons and featured four specials, one of which was the first pilot episode which ran for two hours. In the show he treated Robinson’s character Baldrick horribly, but Atkinson is known internationally as the goodnatured and feckless Mr Bean.
The 58 year-old Atkinson said of his CBE that, “It came as a genuine surprise and is a great honour.”
Mr Atkinson actually appeared as Mr Bean during the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, which climaxed with the lighting of a spectacular cauldron designed by the architect Thomas Heatherwick, who also received a CBE.
It is only fitting that the two actors should have been honoured on Her Majesty the Queen of England’s birthday honours list, the two men were, in a sense reunited via the ceremony.
The world of English entertainment was well represented on the Honours list with the inclusion of the chart-topping singer Adele. The 25 year-old singer not only got the Oscar for best song, but she also got an MBE. Another musical entertainment inclusion on the list was singer/songwriter PJ Harvey.
Other entertainment honours recipients were broadcaster Clare Balding and novelist Jackie Collins. Both the 25 year-old broadcaster and the 75 year-old Collins were honoured with the OBE.
A total of 1,180 people are named on the Birthday Honours list, nearly half of them women. And 72 percent of the recipients were people who are actively engaged in charitable or voluntary work within their local communities.
The list recognised 28 headteachers, with knighthoods or damehoods for five, including Kenneth Gibson, who leads two Tyneside schools that have been described as two “beacons of hope” in a deprived area.
Sir Tony’s knighthood recognises his “lifetime of public and political service with a career as an actor, theatre director, children’s author and television presenter”.
The 66-year-old said he had been left “a little gob-smacked” (speechless). He said, “I also pledge that from this day on I’ll slaughter all unruly dragons, and rescue any damsels in distress who request my help.”
The one-time member of Labour Party’s National Executive Committee also said, “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.”
Her Majesty the Queen gave a knighthood to Sir Tony Robinson from Blackadder, but she honoured a few other well-known names in entertainment as well.
By Michael Smith