The Queen director Stephen Frears knighted in birthday honours

He is honoured for services to film and television.
He is honoured for services to film and television.

Best known for directing films about real-life people and monarchs, Stephen Frears has been given a knighthood in the birthday honours.

Among his most famous films is The Queen, which won Dame Helen Mirren an Oscar and landed him a directing nod.

He has also been lauded for My Beautiful Laundrette, Dangerous Liaisons, Victoria & Abdul, Philomena and The Grifters, for which he was also Oscar nominated.

Florence Foster Jenkins World Premiere – London
Frears with Florence Foster Jenkins stars Hugh Grant and Meryl Streep (Ian West/PA)

His work in television has also been celebrated, with credits including A Very English Scandal, Quiz and The Deal, about the friendship and rivalry between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Born in Leicester in 1941 and educated at Cambridge, Frears worked in theatre and at the BBC before making his feature film debut with Gumshoe in 1971.

He first made his mark with the 1985 interracial drama My Beautiful Laundrette, based on a Hanif Kureishi story and starring Daniel Day Lewis.

Since then his career has been peppered with stories of real people, including Mrs Henderson Presents starring Dame Judi Dench; Victoria & Abdul, in which Dame Judi revives her portrayal of Queen Victoria; The Program, starring Ben Foster as disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong; Florence Foster Jenkins, starring Meryl Streep as the deluded soprano and Philomena, with Dame Judi back with Frears, this time playing an Irish woman on a quest to find out what happened to the baby boy taken away from her in the 1950s.

He also made a documentary entitled Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, about the boxer’s refusal to fight in Vietnam.

But it is The Queen that is arguably his most significant and acclaimed work, with Dame Helen playing the late monarch in the days after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. It also stars Michael Sheen as Tony Blair, reprising his role from The Deal.

Venice Film Festival
Frears with The Queen star Dame Helen Mirren (Ian West/PA)

Dame Helen took home the best actress Oscar and the film was nominated for best picture, best screenplay and best costumes, while Frears was nominated for his direction.

His most recent film, The Lost King, was released in 2022 and told the story of the amateur historian who found King Richard III’s long-missing remains in a Leicester car park.

He has been given a knighthood for services to film and television.