Birthday Honours: Gongs for Arlene Phillips, Jonathan Pryce and Engelbert Humperdinck

The newly-honoured Belsize Park locals Sir Jonathan Pryce and Dame Arlene Phillips

The newly-honoured Belsize Park locals Sir Jonathan Pryce and Dame Arlene Phillips - Credit: PA

Belsize Park stars Arlene Phillips and Jonathan Pryce are among those to be garlanded in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list. 

And the area's connection to those recognised doesn't stop there - Engelbert Humperdinck, the musician who famously sang Les Bicyclettes de Belsize in the late 1960s is also on the list. 


Engelbert Humperdinck, now an MBE, represented the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012 - Credit: PA

Ms Phillips, the choreographer and dancer most recently notable for her stint as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, has been a Belsize stalwart for many years. And she even once declared her love for this newspaper.

She has worked on West End shows like Flashdance and Sound of Music and Hollywood movies like Grease and even Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

And now, at 78, she's been made Dame Arlene. 

Dame Arlene Phillips, who has long lived in Belsize Park

Dame Arlene Phillips, who has long lived in Belsize Park - Credit: PA

Jonathan Pryce, who shares a postcode with the new dame, has himself become a knight. 

The actor, who over the years has been a James Bond villain, featured in Game of Thrones and was nominated for an Oscar for his role in The Two Popes in 2020. 

The newly-minted Sir Jonathan said in a statement: "That the UK continues to honour those that work in the arts acknowledges the great contribution artists make to the way we live our lives.

Sir Jonathan Pryce at the BAFTAs earlier this year

Sir Jonathan Pryce at the BAFTAs earlier this year - Credit: PA

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"When I began work at the Liverpool Everyman under Alan Dosser in 1972, I saw theatre as an implement of change - to entertain and to inform.

"The arts remind people to be kinder, more understanding, questioning and to be more empathetic.

"It shows people the importance of debate and tolerance and these last few divisive years have shown the need for that more than ever.

"After almost 50 years as an actor I am proud to think that the work and ideals that I have shared with my friends and colleagues is being honoured in this way."

Engelbert Humperdinck, real name Arnold George Dorsey, was born in India and lived for a long time in Chalk Farm. The 1968 hit Les Bicyclettes de Belsize helped make his - rather unusual - name. 

He's now an MBE - and remarking on the honour said: "I can't believe that I am being honoured - I can't believe it. It is a dream come true."

His wife Patricia died in February after contracting Covid-19. She had been suffering Alzheimer's disease for more than a decade.

Mr Humperdinck added: "I never thought that I would be a success in my life but it happened. I never thought I would be honoured and it happened. I am just a lucky person and I am thrilled with the way things are going in my life.

"My wife would have been absolutely delighted. God rest her soul. I would have loved for her to have seen what is going on right now but God took her in another direction.

"It is a very sad situation but I wish she was sharing this honour with me."

Local figures to be honoured also include period poverty campaigner Amika George, Camden councillor Jonathan Simpson, and Royal Free patient rep David Myers.

Others to receive honours this year include the Brent-born footballer Raheem Sterling - now an MBE - and Hackney MP Meg Hillier, who has been made a dame.