She is a familiar face to many on our Television screens, with her portrayal of Alexis Carrington Colby during the 1980s making her a household name at the time, but now Joan Collins can be officially referred to as "Dame Joan" after receiving her award at the formal investiture ceremony earlier this week. For a woman who has never been afraid to adopt the glitz and the glamour that comes with movie and television celebrity, the new 'gong' seems a perfect additional adornment to her collection. Indeed, perhaps the only surprise is that it has taken quite so long (she has now reached the grand age of 81, after all) for her to be awarded the prestigious honour.

She was given the honour for her services to charity, which has included work for the children's charity NSPCC and Breast Cancer Research, besides being a patron of Shooting Star Chase, a hospice charity.

Dame Joan also has a famous sibling, with her younger sister Jackie being an extremely successful author of raunchy literature in her own right (selling more than 500 million books worldwide) and Joan appeared in the notorious film adaptations of some of her literary compositions. It was Joan's appearance as the leading female character in both The Stud and The Bitch in the late 70s which helped to re-energise her career, after her earlier success in several major films had seemed to be becoming a distant memory.

It was Dynasty that really saw Collins' career take (back) off again though, as television series such as Dallas, Dynasty and The Colbys seemed to become extremely popular with the viewers, in the mega bucks world that the characters lived in. The sensational storylines of greed and power seemed to offer the viewers of the time some escapism from the seemingly dreary world of the 80s that many in Britain (especially) were living in.

Dynasty's longevity (from 1981 to 1989) made Collins famous both in America and her homeland England, the actress having been born there in Paddington, West London in 1933.

Speaking after she had received her award, the proud celebrity said: "Not in a billion years did I think I would be made a dame."

Not that she is intending retiring from the industry in the near future, as she is currently starring in an American TV series alongside Elizabeth Hurley in The Royals.

Her busy schedule is also trying to fit in attempts to get another project off the ground, raising funds for The Time of Their Lives, a film along similar lines to the highly successful Thelma and Louise.