Veteran stage and screen actors Sheila Hancock, David Suchet and Harriet Walter have been awarded New Year honours, along with Les Mis lyricist Herbert Kretzmer.

Sheila Hancock

Sheila Hancock

Sheila Hancock and David Suchet have both been awarded CBEs, and Harriet Walter is to be made a dame, 11 years after becoming a CBE.

Hancock, 77, has enjoyed a 50 year career that includes a recent stint in Sister Act at the London Palladium and as a judge on BBC talent show “Over the Rainbow” to cast a Dorothy for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s forthcoming production of The Wizard of Oz at the Palladium. She was awarded an OBE in 1974 for services to drama and has appeared in numerous stage, film, TV and radio roles, from the RSC to EastEnders and Carry On films.

Harriet Walter is best known as a stage actor, performing for companies such as the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, including her recent performance as Cleopatra opposite Patrick Stewart at the RSC and as Mary Stuart in the West End at the Donmar Warehouse and on Broadway. She told the Guardian in London that she has, “reservations about some parts of the honours system”, but despite fearing that it is not a fair system, felt that it would allow her to speak up in defence of the theatre and “square the circle” by acknowledging the award.

David Suchet is best known in the UK and around the world for playing Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot on television, and is also a seasoned stage performer with recent appearances including All My Sons at the Apollo Theatre alongside Zoe Wanamaker and Complicit at the Old Vic in 2009 opposite Richard Dreyfuss.

Also acknowledged in the honours is lyricist Herbert Kretzmer, who co-wrote the lyrics to the world’s longest running musical, Les Misérables, and is to become an OBE.