Acclaimed Ilkeston-born actor Robert Lindsay returned to his hometown on Saturday evening to receive the prestigious Freedom of Erewash award.
Mr Lindsay was presented with the coveted honour in the council chamber at Ilkeston Town Hall after torrential rain forced the event to be moved indoors from the town’s market place.
During the ceremony, the 66-year-old actor - who was a pupil at Gladstone Boys School and Kensington Junior School - made an emotional speech in which he paid tribute to his parents and remembered his early years in Derbyshire with fondness.
Now living in London, he said he missed ‘the warmth of the people here in Derbyshire’ the most.
He said: “The thing about this wonderful town is that people say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ and mean it and that’s why I am really, really thrilled to get this.
“Without doubt this is the icing on the cake because I have always felt welcome here.”
Mr Lindsay shot to fame in the 1970s when he played the title role in the popular comedy series Citizen Smith and he has continued to be a force on television in shows like My Family, Alan Bleasdale’s GBH and Jake’s Progress.
He has also enjoyed a successful career on stage, which has seen him headline in the West End and on Broadway, playing major roles like Hamlet, Richard III and Henry II in Becket – while his lead role in Me and My Girl won him multiple awards.
“I have been fortunate enough to win a number of awards throughout my acting career but this one genuinely means so much to me,” he said.
“I spent most of my teenage years trying to get out of Ilkeston, but having lived in London since I was 17, it is the honesty and the warmth of the people here in Derbyshire that I miss the most and being handed the Freedom of Erewash means everything.”
Joining the actor at the ceremony, was his children and wife Rosemary Ford - who became a familiar face on TV in the early 90s starring alongside Bruce Forsyth on the Generation Game.
Mr Lindsay, who is an avid Derby County FC supporter and is known to follow the fortunes of Ilkeston FC, is the second person to receive the honour after British cycling boss Sir Dave Brailsford in 2012.
The 2nd Mercian Battalion - which draws soldiers from across the borough - has also received the Freedom of Erewash.