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State & Ceremonial

Arise Sir Tommy! Britain’s first rock and roll star Tommy Steele says he is living in a ‘showbusiness fairy story’ after becoming a knight


Entertainer Tommy Steele has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. The star, famous as a singer and actor, receives the honour for his services to entertainment and charity.

Born Thomas Hicks in Bermondsey, London, in 1936, he became a household name in the 1950s with hits including ‘Singin’ the Blues’ which reached number one. He is regarded as the UK’s first homegrown rock and roll star. His musical career had begun as lead singer for The Steelmen who had a string of chart hits with cover songs. His solo career turned him into one of the best known stars in the UK in the 50s and 60s.

Sir Tommy’s film career includes Half A Sixpence, The Happiest Millionaire and Finnian’s Rainbow. He’s also well known for starring roles in musical theatre, including a famous run in Singin’ in the Rain, as well as performances in Scrooge: The Musical and Doctor Doolittle. He is an author and and has also produced acclaimed sculptures.

His charity work includes support for the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey.

Upon becoming a Knight, Sir Tommy said: “It’s like being in a panto. People are calling you Sir and you think: ‘Blooming heck. Is that in the script?’ It’s wonderful and I haven’t come down to earth yet.”

He added: “It’s a combination of a bit of excitement and dreamland.

“You naturally want to ring the world because it is a wonderful thing.

“But there is this warning. You don’t do that. The rules of the game are that you have to keep quiet and accept it, if you wish, and we will let you know when we are going to announce it.”

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.