Sheila Hancock has said she felt an "immense sense of duty" after entering the New Years Honors list at the age of 87.
The British icon, who has appeared in films such as Edie and Carry On Cleo, as well as the television series The Rag Trade, is recognized for her contributions to drama and charity.
Dame Sheila, whose illustrious career on stage and screen spanned six decades, joined seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton and veteran footballers Jimmy Greaves and Ron Flowers.
Also on the list was EastEnders star Nina Wadia, actor Toby Jones, who played Alfred Hitchcock and Dobby, the house-elf Dobby in Harry Potter, and singer Craig David.
When talking about her award, Lady Sheila said: & # 39; I've never felt like this before. It just doesn't happen to people like me. I feel like I can lower the tone. I easily feel miscast, let's put it that way.
Sheila Hancock, who has starred in films like Edie and Carry On Cleo, has said she felt an "immense sense of duty" after being listed as a lady on the New Years Honors list
The actress, who also starred in the television series The Rag Trade, was married to actor John Thaw before his death in 2002
Singer Craig David (left) has been awarded an MBE, while EastEnders actress Nina Wadia (right) has been awarded an OBE
Actor Toby Jones, who played Alfred Hitchcock and Dobby the house-elf Dobby in Harry Potter, received an OBE
“But it also makes me feel an immense sense of duty. Far from feeling how beautiful, wonderful and good I am, pat on the back and now I can sit and enjoy myself. I actually feel challenged.
“I feel like I have to prove something and work even harder, especially in my charity area.
“I have to earn it quickly, so to speak, before I die. And admit that it's not so much a pat on the back as you have certain responsibilities. This is how it feels to me. & # 39;
Dame Sheila, who was married to actor John Thaw before his death in 2002, began her career in the theater and found success in both the West End and Broadway.
Her career flourished with comedy appearances on the BBC, with roles in sitcoms like The Rag Trade, Mr Digby Darling and Now, Take My Wife.
In 1972 she landed her own series, but seriously, it's Sheila Hancock.
In addition to her acting career, Dame Sheila has worked extensively for charity and has been committed to improving education, especially for children from poorer backgrounds.
She shared her fears that the school closings forced by the pandemic could widen the gap between rich and poor students.
She said, “I'm very concerned right now about the gaps with the kids who haven't done work since March when they don't have the background that can help, don't even have a bloody iPad and the other whose parents they are have taught wonderfully at home.
"I think this will be a big problem in the future that we have to work on."
The British icon, whose career spanned six decades, already has an OBE and a CBE (pictured with her OBE 1974).
Dame Sheila has also starred in several stage shows including Sister Act The Musical, Cabaret, and the 1978 production Annie (pictured in Sister Act 2009).
The star has also worked extensively for charitable causes and advocated improving education. Pictured: Dame Sheila with ITV's A Fearful Thing with Derren Nesbitt
Dame Sheila's first husband, actor Alec Ross, died of esophageal cancer in 1971.
She was married to actor Thaw from Inspector Morse until his death, also from esophageal cancer, in 2002.
She and Thaw had one child, Joanna, while she also had a daughter with Ross and is the stepmother of Abigail, Thaw's daughter from his first marriage.
Dame Sheila wrote movingly about her relationship with Thaw in the 2004 double biography The Two Of Us, which reflected the couple's 28-year marriage and struggles against alcoholism and depression.
When the star spoke after his death, it revealed that she had asked her husband not to die and asked him not to leave her.
The actress said the love they shared was so strong it bordered on "obsessive," saying neither she nor Thaw could ever imagine being apart.
Dame Sheila got the Radio Times listing for comparing her and Thaw's love to tragic lovers Cathy and Heathcliff in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.
She said, "If you've ever known that obsessive love that sometimes makes it difficult to be together but impossible to be apart, you can identify with Cathy and Heathcliff's relationship."
In 2008 she explored her widowhood in the memoir Just Me.
Her later acting roles include the 2016 TV comedy series Delicious and the 2017 drama film Edie, in which she played an eighty-year-old who goes on a mission to climb a Scottish mountain.
The actress has appeared in dozens of productions over the years (pictured in Mr Digby Darling with Peter Jones in 1969).
Dame Sheila, born in 1933, was evacuated from her home during World War II. She drew comparisons between this conflict and the misery caused by the pandemic, and hopes the health crisis will lead to a more caring society.
She said, “At the end of the war we came together and during the war people were already planning the welfare state.
There were people who came together and said that this has to change. And because working-class men met upper-class people and vice versa, they realized that there were terrible inequalities and they did something about it.
& # 39; A revolution happened slowly. And it was torture, but after the war we changed the world for people from my background. And I hope these people realize that we grossly underpaid people like caregivers and we don't value them. It's not good just to stand and clap them. & # 39;
The Carry On star has also been open about how well prepared she is for her older years, saying in 2018 that she intends to turn her fortunes to charity rather than giving it all to her grown up daughters.
Letting your kids have money is "the worst thing you can do," the actress said in an interview, adding, "I think it's a good incentive to make a living … to get off your bum too to force."
She told the Sunday Times that she intends to donate money to her late husband's charity, the John Thaw Foundation, which helps disadvantaged young people.
Seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton and veteran footballers Jimmy Greaves, Ron Flowers and singer Craig David were on the list last night.
Formula 1 Champion Lewis Hamilton was named a Knight on the New Year Honors List last night
Coronation Street veteran Sally Dynevor, 57, who has played Sally Webster since 1986, becomes an MBE
Hamilton, 35, valued at over £ 250 million, left the UK in 2007 to live in the tax havens of Switzerland and Monaco.
But he insists he pays taxes in the UK. He emphasized: "I am contributing to the country and not just helping to employ a team of more than 1,000 people."
Boris Johnson has come under sustained pressure to include Hamilton on the list after a year of equating German ace Michael Schumacher's record with seven F1 titles and becoming a vocal activist for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Meanwhile, 64-year-old actress Lesley Manville, who will play Princess Margaret on the final two seasons of Netflix hit The Crown, has been named a CBE, and EastEnders actress Nina Wadia received an OBE.
Coronation Street veteran Sally Dynevor, 57, who has played Sally Webster since 1986, becomes an MBE.
Actor Toby Jones, who played Alfred Hitchcock and Dobby, the house-elves in Harry Potter, received an OBE.
Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, who worked on such films as Blade Runner, Shawshank Redemption, and Skyfall, was knighted
Football heroes Jimmy Greaves, 80, and Ron Flowers (right), 86, were named MBEs after a long campaign to ensure that every surviving member of the English squad that won the 1966 World Cup receives an honor
The 73-year-old broadcaster Eric Robson, who ran Radio 4's Gardeners Question Time for nearly three decades, received an OBE
Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, who worked on such films as Blade Runner, Shawshank Redemption, and Skyfall, was also knighted.
The 73-year-old broadcaster Eric Robson, who ran Radio 4's Gardeners Question Time for nearly three decades, received an OBE.
Football heroes Greaves, 80, and Flowers, 86, were also named MBEs after a long campaign to ensure that every surviving member of the English squad that won the 1966 World Cup receives an honor.
The prime minister said he hoped the New Year awards would inspire the nation. Mr Johnson said: “In a year where so many sacrifices have been made to protect our NHS and save people's lives, the outstanding efforts of those receiving honors today are a welcome reminder of the strength of the human spirit and in what can be achieved through courage and courage, mercy.
& # 39; The New Years Award 2021 is an opportunity for us to recognize their dedication and recognize many who have gone well beyond that in their contribution to our country.
"As we start a new year and continue to come together to fight this virus, may your ministry and stories be an inspiration to us all."
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