Brian May knighted as Chris Kamara and Rachel Riley get MBEs in New Year Honours

Stars including Brian May, Chris Kamara, Rachel Riley and more have plenty to celebrate heading into 2023 as they feature in the New Year Honours list.

Revealed on Friday (December 30), the list recognises the achievements and services of people across the UK, from all walks of life.

Queen guitarist May, leads the pack by receiving a knighthood in truly wholesome news, meaning the rock legend will be known as Sir Brian May, or Sir Bri, as he proposed.

Speaking about his knighthood, the 75-year-old, who is responsible for some of the biggest riffs in popular music, admitted he now feels a new responsibility to ‘behave in a way which benefits the country and the rest of the population.

The musician, astrophysicist and animal welfare advocate – who is being recognised for his services to music and charity – told the PA News Agency that it’s a ‘shock’ to receive the honour.

He added that he is ‘excited’ and ‘pleasantly surprised’, and the news has been ‘sinking in over the last few days.’

‘I don’t think I expected it because I haven’t been conducting the kind of life which I thought would lead to a knighthood – I’ve been quite vociferous in criticising recent Governments for a start,’ he admitted.

‘So I imagined that I was on the wrong side for all that stuff. It’s a nice surprise to have this honour put upon me,’ added May, who was previously made a CBE by the late Queen in 2005.

Alongside May, Countdown star Riley has been made an MBE for her efforts to raise awareness of the Holocaust and combat antisemitism.

TV presenter and mathematician Riley, whose mother is Jewish, has been honoured for her services to Holocaust education as an avid campaigner.

The 36-year-old Oxford University graduate was specifically a vocal critic of Labour’s handling of alleged antisemitism within the party and Jeremy Corbyn’s conduct while leader.

Frank Skinner has also been awarded an MBE for his services to entertainment, which he thinks is ‘brilliant.’

The broadcaster and comedian, 65, whose real name is Christopher Graham Collins, said he hasn’t actually told anyone about his accolade, in case the whole thing was just an ‘administrative error.’

‘I deal mainly in laughs and applause and they disappear into the air quite quickly,’ he added.

‘So getting a proper medal that you can hold on to and polish regularly feels (it) has given my career a sense of permanence that I like.’

In other unbelievable news, Jeff, football pundit Kamara has been made an MBE.

The 65-year-old played for nine English professional clubs in a career spanning 20 years before going on to manage Bradford and Stoke, but in more recent years he has become best known for his work as a pundit and presenter on Sky Sports.

There was then a huge outpouring of support for Kamara on social media when he went public about his apraxia of speech (AOS) diagnosis earlier this year.

Kamara’s MBE recognised his services to football, charity and anti-racism.

As for OBEs, Stephen Graham has been honoured for services to drama.

The 49-year-old Merseyside-born actor has won plaudits playing Irish, English and American criminals and police officers in various blockbuster Hollywood films and hit TV dramas across his three-decade career.

He starred in the 2000 crime comedy film Snatch alongside Brad Pitt and Jason Statham, as well as 2019’s gangster epic The Irishman, where he played real-life mobster Anthony Provenzano alongside Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.

Graham’s other acting credits include Gangs Of New York, Boardwalk Empire, and, arguably his most known role, This Is England.

The Help actor has also credited his fellow This Is England and Boiling Point co-star and wife Hannah Walters for helping him following a suicide attempt during a period of despair in his early 20s.

What’s more, the mixed-race actor has spoken about the racist abuse he suffered on the streets of Liverpool.

Another person getting an OBE in the New Year Honours is saxophonist and broadcaster YolanDa Brown, who has said she is ‘excited and honoured’ to have been recognised for her services to music, music education and broadcasting.

David Harewood has been OBE too after raising awareness of mental health and racism, after the actor and broadcaster became a prominent voice for better mental health support.

Joining the OBE club is journalist Anne Diamond, who campaigned to stop cot death, and she has described being made an OBE as the ‘crowning achievement’ for all those who helped her.

The broadcaster, 68, dedicated the achievement to her late son Sebastian, adding: ‘Today I’m thinking of the parents, so many of whom I have come to know over the years, who lost their children and never got the chance to campaign as I did.’

Janet Kay, known as the Queen of Lovers Rock, features amongst the names from the world of music on the New Years Honours list, having been made an MBE.

Composer George Fenton, who has scored wildlife documentaries by Sir David Attenborough, is made a CBE for services to music, while Julian Bird, the former chief executive of the Society of London Theatre (Solt) and UK Theatre, has been made an OBE.

Rounding things off, we have fashion designer Sir Grayson Perry, 62, who is known for his tapestries, ceramic works and cross-dressing and has been made a Knight Bachelor for services to the arts.

Designer Dame Mary Quant, who is widely credited with popularising the mini skirt, has been appointed a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour.

And finally, Noreen Riols, the last surviving female member of the French section of the Special Operations Executive – known as ‘Churchill’s Secret Army’ – has dedicated her MBE to the memory of her late ‘comrades.’

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