David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in Murder on The Orient Express. Photograph: ITV
The brief cast of actors named in today's New Year honours list reads like a triumph for middle England and its favourite long-running television shows, from Poirot star David Suchet to Last of the Summer Wine's Bert Kwouk.
Suchet, who has starred in 65 episodes of Agatha Christie's Poirot on ITV since 1989, was made a CBE for services to drama, as was fellow actor Sheila Hancock, the former Rag Trade star and widow of actor John Thaw who has reinvented herself in recent years as a best-selling author, musical star and judge on Andrew Lloyd Webber's BBC1 talent show, Over the Rainbow.
Harriet Walter, the star of stage and screen including BBC1's Little Dorrit and a stint in ITV1's Law and Order: UK, was made a dame for services to drama a decade after she was awarded the CBE in 2000.
And there was an OBE for Kwouk, who became known to millions as Inspector Closeau's servant Kato – which, for the benefit of completists, it should be noted was later changed to Cato – and a whole new generation of viewers on Last of the Summer Wine, which he joined in 2003.The BBC1 comedy finally came to an end after 37 years and 295 episodes this year.
Kwouk also appeared in James Bond hits Goldfinger and You Only Live twice, as well as Bond spoof Casino Royle. But the film role that came to define his career was as Kato in the second Pink Panther film, 1964's A Shot in the Dark, opposite Peter Sellers.
Suchet has played characters including Cardinal Wolsey, Robert Maxwell and Blott in the BBC's Tom Sharpe adaptation Blott on the Landscape, but will forever be remembered for his portrayal of Hercule Poirot.
His latest outing, in Murder on the Orient Express, was a centrepiece of ITV1's Christmas Day schedule and he will return to the role for a final series next year.
The brother of former ITN newsreader John, Suchet's first screen brush with Poirot was in Thirteen At Dinner, playing Inspector Japp to Peter Ustinov's portrayal of the main character.
But on the recommendation of Christie's family, Suchet himself went on to be cast as Poirot when ITV began its dramatisations – the first of which, The Adventure Of The Clapham Cook, was screened in January 1989.
Walter guest starred alongside Suchet in a 2008 Poirot episode, playing a character called Miss Bulstrode in Cat Among the Pigeons. Perhaps Hancock and Kwouk will have their chance next year.