Sheila Hancock has said she was “surprised” how pleased she was to be awarded a CBE for services to drama.
The 77-year-old actress, who has reinvented herself in recent years as a best-selling author, musical star and TV talent show judge, said she kept the secret to herself since a letter arrived telling her the news.
She said: “I got a letter saying the Prime Minister’s office was going to ask the Queen to consider me and I immediately thought she would say ‘no’.”
She continued: “It is lovely, really lovely. I’m surprised how pleased I am.”
Hancock said refusing the award would be “so rude” but admitted that as a practising Quaker, she had to clarify how compatible it was with the group’s beliefs.
She said: “I had some worries about how it fits with our beliefs in equality but they said it was fine because it was for my work and it was earned.”
And she revealed she was looking forward to her visit to the Palace – and 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. So this time I will wear something you can stick a pin in.”
Hancock made her name in the BBC sitcom The Rag Trade, and recently appeared on stage in the West End musical Sister Act.