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Cry for help as Spike is Goon and not forgotten.

Byline: Chris Moncrieff

Comic Spike Milligan, whose off-the-wall humour set him apart from his peers, yesterday welcomed an honorary knighthood in typically eccentric fashion, saying simply 'Help'.

The 82-year-old zany genius - who once publicly called his close friend the Prince of Wales 'a little grovelling bastard' - paved the way for a generation of alternative comedians and has been recognised as one of the country's most prolific and original funnymen.

Spike's wife Shelagh, aged 56, said he was 'delighted and thrilled' to receive the title.

She said: 'I asked Spike what his reaction was and he simply said 'help' and no more.

'But I can say that he is deeply pleased to have been recognised for all the work he has done, like The Goon Show. He likes a pat on the back like the rest of us.'

The comedian's award heads an honours list which salutes a dazzling array of stars as well as training the spotlight on a number of workaday folk whose jobs as postmen, street sweepers, lollipop ladies and milkmen normally keep them out of the public eye.

There are honours for actors Paul Scofield, Tom Courtenay, William Roache and Zoe Wanamaker, comic Jim Davidson, TV presenter and funnyman Jeremy Beadle and veteran astronomer Patrick Moore.

Scofield, aged 78, one of the greatest Shakespearian actors of his generation, becomes a Companion of Honour.

The same honour is bestowed on Sir Harrison Birtwistle, who has been at the forefront of modernist contemporary music for more than 20 years.

A knighthood goes to Bafta-winning Tom Courtenay, who has starred in many of the most influential films of the past 40 years, including The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Dr Zhivago and Billy Liar.

Astronomer Patrick Moore, aged 77, who has presented The Sky At Night for the BBC for more than 40 years also becomes a Sir.

He said: 'I wasn't a bit surprised - I was astounded, because I think there are many other people who deserve a knighthood far more.'

As Coronation Street celebrates its 40th birthday, there is an MBE for actor William Roache, who as Ken Barlow is the only remaining member of the original cast of the first live episode in 1960.

He said: 'It's given me a very warm feeling on this cold, snowy day. This is a fitting end to Coronation Street's 40th anniversary celebrations, and I'm delighted to be representing the programme in this way.

'I feel this honour is directly due to Coronation Street and the incredible team effort of its cast and crew over the last 40 years.'

Playwright Peter Shaffer, Oscar-winning author of Amadeus, the portrait of Mozart, becomes a knight.

Actress Charlotte Rampling gets an OBE in the diplomatic list 'for services to acting and UK-French cultural relations'.

Zoe Wanamaker who has innumerable starring roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in the West End, gets an honorary CBE.

Comedian Jim Davidson, host of the BBC1 hit The Generation Game, who regularly entertains British service personnel abroad and who has raised funds for the Conservative Party, receives an OBE.

There is an MBE for TV prankster Jeremy Beadle, who receives the award for his tireless charitable services, especially to the Foundation for Children with Leukaemia.

And an OBE in the diplomatic list goes to Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek.

There is a CBE for veteran actor Joss Ackland, aged 71, while top jazzman Acker Bilk, also 71, who valiantly fought off cancer of the throat to return to playing his clarinet on stage, is rewarded with an MBE.

Bill Kenwright, who has been described as the West End's richest and most powerful impresario, gets a CBE.

Flamboyant choreographer Matthew Bourne, whose 'male' Swan Lake won 27 international awards, receives an OBE.

There is a CBE for Richard Alston, regarded as the father of British modern dance.

Jenny Abramsky, director of BBC Radio and Music, gets a CBE. In an astonishing career, she launched Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24 and BBC News Online, as well as having been editor of the flagship Today programme.

There is an MBE for disc jockey Annie Nightingale, who said: 'Any excuse for a party. I'll be quite curious to cop a look at the gardens of Buck House. Plenty big enough for a rave.'

There is a CBE for soprano Joan Rodgers, while fellow soprano Patricia Rozario gets an OBE.

Fay Weldon, one of the world's most prolific novelists, screenwriters and journalists, is made a CBE.

Tiggy Legge-Bourke, who as Prince William's and Prince Harry's nanny, consoled them on the death of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, becomes a Member of the Royal Victorian Order. Sandy Henney, the Prince of Wales's former press secretary, becomes a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order. She resigned from the post last June after a row over the copyright of pictures taken of Prince William to mark his 18th birthday.

There is a CBE for Nicholas Kenyon, former head of Radio 3 who became head of the Proms and an OBE goes to Lady Fretwell, the founder of Passports for Pets which successfully campaigned for a relaxation of Britain's rigid quarantine laws.

Floella Benjamin, chairman of Bafta, and best-known for her 12-year stint as a presenter on Playschool, gets an OBE.

The actor who plays loveable rogue Eddie Grundy in the world's longest running radio drama, BBC Radio 4's The Archers, expressed delight at being awarded the MBE.

Trevor Harrison received award for his services to radio drama, particularly for his role in the Birmingham-produced soap.

The actor, who also appeared in ITV's Crossroads, said it was the greatest honour he had received as an actor, especially as he was doing something he enjoyed.

'It's a great honour just being in The Archers and it's wonderful to receive this award. It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime events and the greatest accolade I have received as an actor.'

Mr Harrison has been in the BBC Radio 4 show for the past 21 years playing Eddie Grundy, the country-and-western fan who has wallowed in financial turmoil because of his get-rich-quick schemes.

The actor was born in Stourbridge and went to The Grange Secondary Modern School in the town before attending the Birmingham Theatre School and since then he has worked in the theatre and on TV.

He has been on numerous tours that included playing the lead role in Graham Harvey's play Box of Ears and has featured in TV programmes including Get Some In and Stig of the Dump.

Mr Harrison lives with his wife, Annette, in south Worcestershire.

CAPTION(S):

Knight star: Patrick's honour eclipsed by modesty Patrick Moore, above, and right, actor Trevor Harrison, who plays Eddie Grundy in The Archers Patrick Stewart OBE has an audience with the queen - the ruler of the Borg Collective as seen in Star Trek
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 30, 2000
Words:1143
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