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Sir John Hurt knighted by the Queen and talks of good response to cancer treatment

PUBLISHED: 11:44 18 July 2015 | UPDATED: 11:44 18 July 2015

Sir John Hurt after being awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II during an Investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Sir John Hurt after being awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II during an Investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

One of the nation’s leading actors, Sir John Hurt, has described how he is responding well to cancer treatment as he was knighted by the Queen for a glittering career.

Sir John Hurt is awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II during an Investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA WireSir John Hurt is awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II during an Investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Sir John, who lives near Cromer with his wife Anwen Rees-Myers, said he was “feeling good” after completing half a course of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, and has continued to work.

The actor was made a knight by the Queen for a distinguished career that has featured a series of mesmerising performances, from the title role in The Elephant Man to the inspiring TV portrayal of Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant.

Sir John, 75, is involved with the Norfolk arts scene - as chancellor of the Norwich University of the Arts and patron of Cinema City’s Cinema Plus education arm. He also supports the Holt Festival and on July 22 is due to be among the readers at an event called Poems That Make Grown Men Cry.

Speaking after the Windsor Castle Investiture ceremony he said: “I’m halfway through my chemotherapy and I’ve got a whole load of tests next week.

“I’m not feeling any of the side effects you’re suppose to feel, or at least you can feel, as everybody’s different I’m told.

“It’s extraordinary, I haven’t lost weight or anything and I’m feeling good - it’s crazy.

“My oncologist is extremely optimistic, as indeed I am, so everything is going really well.”

Sir John was joined by his wife Anwen at Windsor Castle for the ceremony.

Speaking about receiving the honour he said: “It’s so unexpected in a sense, I never thought of it when I started out.

“I suppose the only thing I really rather regret is that my parents aren’t alive to see this, I’m sure that’s not a sentiment that’s new by any means, a lot of people say the same. But it does make one inordinately proud.”

Asked about his favourite role he replied: “That’s always impossible because it’s like saying ‘who’s your favourite child?’

“They all have different qualities, but I suppose something which changes your life in so far as it changes an audience’s perception of you and the business’s perception of you, then I think I’d have to say The Naked Civil Servant, followed by The Elephant Man.

“I look for something that I think I can do something personally with, the difficulty is until you work on something you do not know what you can do with something.”

Despite receiving treatment for cancer Sir John has just finished a BBC Radio 4 version of the Keith Waterhouse play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, a production about the infamous Fleet Street reporter he knew well.

He is following in the footsteps of Peter O’Toole who gave the definitive stage performance of Bernard.

Sir John said: “Mine will be different because I knew Jeffrey so well - he was part of my life.”

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