Joan Collins, Kristin Scott Thomas, John Hurt and James Corden honored by Queen Elizabeth II

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LONDON — The diva of "Dynasty" is now a dame.

Joan Collins, who played scheming, shoulder pad-wearing Alexis Carrington in the hit 1980s TV show, was made the female equivalent of a knight in Queen Elizabeth II's annual New Year's honors list.

The star of potboilers including "The Stud" and "The Bitch" was recognized for her services to charity. Collins, 81, is a longtime supporter of nonprofit groups helping children.

London-born Collins said Tuesday it was "humbling to receive this level of recognition from my queen and country, and I am thrilled and truly grateful."

Actress Kristin Scott Thomas, who is due to play the British monarch in stage play "The Audience" next year, was also made a dame, and said she initially didn't believe the news.

"I am thrilled, astonished and worried that I might suddenly wake up," said Scott Thomas, who received an Academy Award nomination in 1997 for "The English Patient."

Fashion designer Mary Quant, who made the miniskirt synonymous with 60s style, was also named a dame, as were television presenter Esther Rantzen, who founded the ChildLine telephone service for neglected and abused young people, and British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Veteran actor John Hurt, star of "The Naked Civil Servant," ''The Elephant Man" and "Alien," was made a knight.

And it will be "Arise, Sir Simon" for chemist Simon Campbell, part of the team that created erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.

Comic actor James Corden, incoming host of "The Late Late Show" on CBS, was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE. The same honor went to his ex, actress Sheridan Smith.

Actress Emily Watson, who was Oscar nominated for "Breaking the Waves" and "Hilary and Jackie," also received an OBE.

Music producer Peter Asher, half of 1960s pop duo Peter and Gordon, was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE. So were comedian Meera Syal, a star of groundbreaking sketch comedy show "Goodness Gracious Me," and Scottish writer Ali Smith, whose novel "How To Be Both" was shortlisted for this year's Booker Prize.

A century after the start of World War I, ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper were recognized for creating a sea of ceramic poppies that filled the moat of the Tower of London in tribute to the war dead. They were made Members of the Order of the British Empire, or MBEs, for creating the work, which was visited by 5 million people, including the queen.

Britain's honors are bestowed by the monarch, but recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.

In descending order, the main honors are knighthoods, CBE, OBE and MBE. Knights are addressed as "sir" or "dame," followed by their name. Recipients of the other honors have no title, but can put the letters after their surnames.

The honors are used to reward long-serving politicians, diplomats, civil servants and royal courtiers, but the list also includes a smattering of celebrities and many people unknown outside their communities or specialist fields.

The list of more than 1,100 recipients includes an MBE for Britain's leading arrowsmith, while others were honored for services to tax policy, libraries and English-language teacher training in North Korea.

The oldest recipient was 103-year-old Fauja Singh, who took up marathon running at the age of 89 and continued well past his century. He received a British Empire Medal for services to sport and charity.

Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

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