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Kylie Minogue to get OBE

LONDON (Reuters) - Kylie Minogue, the Australian singer and actress who has battled breast cancer, was honoured by the Queen on Saturday, with other awards given to sportsmen, entertainers and businessmen.

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Minogue, a former soap star who became one of the world’s most famous recording artists, becomes an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the traditional New Year’s honours list.

Minogue, famous for hits from “I Should Be So Lucky” to “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”, was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2005 and went through surgery and chemotherapy before returning to the stage late last year.

She has sold some 40 million albums around the world, and 12 million viewers tuned this week in to see her star in a special Christmas episode of television series “Doctor Who”.

Sir Ian McKellen, a top Shakespearean actor who gained worldwide fame with film roles such as the wizard Gandalf in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, was made a Companion of Honour under Britain’s ancient and complex system of honorary titles.

The government said he was being recognised for his “outstanding achievements as an actor and also for his work in championing the causes of diversity”.

The actor, a founder member of gay rights group Stonewall, stepped into a debate in Singapore about decriminalising homosexual acts when he visited the city state in July.

Other honours for media personalities included a knighthood for veteran television interviewer Michael Parkinson and lesser awards for sports commentator Desmond Lynam and Ian Anderson, who fronts rock band Jethro Tull.

Actors Leslie Phillips, known for playing the quintessential Englishman during a more than 50-year-long movie career, and Julie Walters, who has appeared in the “Harry Potter” films and “Educating Rita”, were both granted awards.

In sport there was recognition for Brian Ashton, who coached the England rugby union team unexpectedly to the final of this year’s World Cup, and the team’s fullback Jason Robinson.

Others honoured included world snooker champion John Higgins and former European 5,000 metres champion Brendan Foster.

In the business world, there was a knighthood for Stuart Rose, chief executive of Marks & Spencer, who has turned around the fortunes of the well-known retailer.

In science, Ian Wilmut, a member of the team that cloned Dolly the sheep in 1997, was also rewarded with a knighthood.

It was the first honours list recommended to the Queen by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who took over from Tony Blair in June. Brown in turn acts on the recommendations of committees.

Most of the 972 people on the New Year’s list are honoured for voluntary work or for their contributions to health, education or local services.

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