We are fast approaching the New Year’s Honours List when HM The Queen will make a few more illustrious women who have made significant contributions to society a Dame (of the British Empire to be exact). It’s a very select ‘club’ and includes some of our very favourite ladies who have enriched all our lives one way or another. So to honour them, here’s THE GAY UK‘S TOP TEN DAMES

1) DAME JUDI DENCH: if you can win an OSCAR for a performance that lasts no longer than 8 minutes (‘Shakespeare in Love’) then you really are a Star in every sense of the word.

2) DAME MAGGIE SMITH: two-time OSCAR winner and the cutting queen of the perfect put-down with her scary withered looks, we’d watch this grand Dame if she was just reading the phone directory out loud.

3) DAME HELEN MIRREN: whom we actually call Deputy Queen after she stole our hearts and her first OSCAR for playing H.M. with such dignity and style.

4) DAME SHIRLEY BASSEY: the brassy girl from Tiger Bay who has belting out hits for years and sued for belting her staff too. We love her regardless.

5) DAME KIRI TE KANAWA: we fell for this operatic diva from New Zealand when we saw her recording ‘West Side Story’ with Leonard Bernstein (later parodied by French and Saunders who both should be made Dames too)

6) DAME JOAN PLOWRIGHT (Baroness Olivier): if you had ever had the good fortune to see this sublime actress on stage you’d appreciate that she was every bit as good as her famous late husband.

7) DAME EILEEN ATKINS: celebrated actress & writer (she co-created Upstairs Downstairs) with a lengthy stunning resume, but in our eyes she will always be the wonderful snobby Miss Deborah (and big sister to Dame Judi as Miss Matty) in ‘Cranford‘ TV series

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8) DAME DIANE RIGG: a multi-awarding winning ‘serious’ actress and one of the first to ‘bare all’ on a West End stage, she is still however best known for her sexy leather clad Emma Peel in the hit TV series ‘The Avengers ‘in the 1960’s

9) BARONESS BAKEWELL D.B.E.: one of very first female TV presenters on the heavyweight current affairs programmes to be taken seriously. Never afraid to be forthright and frank with her views she was dubbed ‘the thinking man’s crumpet’.

We couldn’t decide on 10th place so we are awarding this spot to two great Dames

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10) DAME JULIE ANDREWS: probably one of the most ‘English’ of our list even though she left our shores many years ago to climb every mountain and fly over chimney pots.

10) DAME EVELYN GLENNIE: profoundly deaf since 12 years old this Scottish virtuoso percussionist not only doe she make such incredible music, Dame Evelyn has a seemingly limitless capacity to inspire all of us.

About the author: Roger Walker-Dack
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