Wilton played Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North, and sometime Prime Minister, in four episodes of Doctor Who. She is best known for playing Isobel Crawley in the ITV period drama, Downton Abbey and for playing Ann Bryce in the 1980's situation comedy Ever Decreasing Circles.
Wilton has had a long career on the stage and screen receiving six Olivier Award nominations for West End appearances. Her film roles include parts in The French Lieutenant's Woman, Cry Freedom, Iris, Calendar Girls, Shaun of the Dead, Pride and Prejudice, Woody Allen's Match Point and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Wilton is made a Dame Commander Of The Order Of The British Empire in the honours list, which is published today to mark the official 90th birthday of the monarch.
The citation reads
Penelope Wilton is one of Britain’s most popular and sought-after actresses, whose career has spanned acclaimed performances on stage, screen and television. A household name for her comedic performances starting with 1980s sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles, she has subsequently starred in a diverse range of roles in works including Five Days, Half Broken Things and The Passion for television and Calendar Girls and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on film. Her celebrated stage work is varied and she has won numerous awards including Critics Circle Awards for Much Ado About Nothing (1981) and The Deep Blue Sea (1993); an Evening Standard Theatre Award for The Chalk Garden (2008); and a Best Actress Olivier for Taken at Midnight (2015)Also honoured is actor Brian Blessed who is made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the Arts and charity, and Janet Ellis who is made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to charity and broadcasting.
The awards are made by Queen Elizabeth on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.