Arise, Dame Margot: Honour for Penelope Keith

Dame Penelope Keith after she was made a Dame Commander for services to the Arts and to charity during an Investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Dame Penelope Keith after she was made a Dame Commander for services to the Arts and to charity during an Investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle.
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Actress Penelope Keith may be best know for playing posh characters but today she officially became a titled woman – a Dame Commander.

Dame Penelope received the honour from the Queen for an acting career spanning more than 50 years that has featured memorable roles in classic sitcoms such as To The Manor Born and The Good Life.

The award also recognised her work with good causes, she is president of the Actor’s Benevolent Fund and played a significant role in helping to establish and then develop the National Memorial Arboretum.

The actress played down her achievements over the decades after the Windsor Castle investiture ceremony and joked: “It is amazing, it’s marvellous recognition for keeping at it for as long as I have, but also for the charities. I’m so proud of the fact it’s not only for my work it’s for the charities of which I’m associated.”

Keith developed an interest in acting while at boarding school and went on to study at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, before moving into repertory theatre.

She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in her early 20s and went on to have minor TV roles in shows such as The Avengers and Dixon of Dock Green. However, it was in the 1970s that she became a familiar face on TV starring as the snobby but well-meaning Margot Leadbetter in The Good Life, a suburban Surbiton neighbour of a couple who had opted for a back-to-basics existence.

Veteran performer Michael Crawford, a versatile actor at home in films, TV comedy and musicals, was made a CBE in recognition of his efforts supporting a range of good causes and charities.

It was his role as the hapless Frank Spencer in 1970s sitcom Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em that made Crawford a household name, but he has continued to appear in a string of successful musical productions.