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Sarah Lancashire

I send my warmest congratulations to Sarah Lancashire who received a Special Recognition award last night at the National TV Awards.

Sarah is one of this country's leading actors with a wealth of outstanding roles to her credit.

Having presented Sarah Lancashire with the Special Recognition Award, Lord of the Rings star Ian McKellen went on to compare her to British acting greats like Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith.

"There are in this country great theatre actors, there are great film actors, cinema stars, but do we ever think of our actors on television as being great in the same way?" he said.

"This is Sarah Lancashire and she's doing it in your own homes on your television, [and that] just makes it more special than all the rest, frankly."

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