Derek Jacobi and Arlene Phillips given special Olivier Awards ahead of ceremony

Choreographer Dame Arlene Phillips and actor Sir Derek Jacobi have been given Olivier Awards ahead of the ceremony.

Sir Derek has received a lifetime achievement honour for his 60-year career on stage and screen, which has seen him act in Shakespeare plays like Hamlet, Romeo And Juliet and King Lear on the stage and screen.

The 84-year-old The Crown actor, who won an actor Bafta in 1977 for I, Claudius, is also a founding member of the National Theatre and was enlisted by its first director Lord Laurence Olivier.

He has previously won two Olivier Awards for best actor in 2009 when he starred in Twelfth Night at the Wyndham’s Theatre and actor of the year in 1983 for a revival of Cyrano De Bergerac at the Barbican.

Sir Derek’s four other Bafta nominations include roles in Tango In Halifax and Dead Again and he has had other noteworthy cinema appearances in Gladiator, The Kings Speech and Murder On The Orient Express.

Philips British Academy Television Awards – Arrivals – London
Arlene Phillips has been recognised with a special Olivier award. (Yui Mok/PA)

Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Dame Arlene, 79, has been recognised with the special Olivier award for choregraphing some of the West End and Broadway’s biggest shows, including Starlight Express, We Will Rock You, The Wizard Of Oz, The Sound Of Music and Flashdance.

She posted on Instagram that she was “unbelievably excited, astonished and honoured” and thanked her previous collaborators as well as Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, who first asked her to choregraph after seeing her provocative dance group perform more than 45 years ago.

Dame Arlene found fame when she created the troupe Hot Gossip in 1974, and has twice been nominated for best theatre choreographer at the Olivier awards for Grease at the Dominion in 1994 and Saturday Night Fever at the London Palladium in 1999.

Dame Arlene, who was a judge on Strictly from the show’s first season in 2004 until 2008, has also choreographed music videos for Whitney Houston, Sir Elton John and Queen and the films Annie and Ridley Scott’s Legend.

She also competed I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! and was the first contestant to be eliminated when the ITV reality show – usually based in the Australian jungle – was held in 2021 at Gwrych Castle in North Wales due to the pandemic.

Claire Walker and Hannah Essex, co-CEOs of Society of London Theatre, said: “We would like to offer an enormous congratulations to the two recipients of the Special Awards – Dame Arlene Phillips, for her inspiring work in dance and choreography, and Sir Derek Jacobi, for his incredible, life-long service to the theatre as an actor.

“This year’s honourees have inspired generations with their work, and it is a privilege to be able to publicly recognise them in this year’s awards.”

The Olivier Awards will be hosted by Ted Lasso actress Hannah Waddingham on Sunday April 2 at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The full list of nominees will be announced on February 28 at 2pm.