1. ITV Report

Freedom of Belfast awarded to Sir Kenneth Branagh

Sir Kenneth Branagh has said he is humbled and proud to have been awarded the freedom of his home city.

Belfast city councillors voted unanimously on Monday night to honour the megastar of stage and screen.

Born in north Belfast in 1960, Sir Kenneth moved to England with his family at the age of nine, but he has never forgotten his roots.

The critically-acclaimed actor and director has described the award as an “incredible honour” from the place he is proud to call home.

Sir Kenneth said: “Belfast has always given me more than I could ever repay.

“It took great care of me til the age of nine. It gave me a profound sense of family, a magnificent landscape to play in, and a Belfast sense of humour that is a constant boisterous reminder to never take yourself too seriously.

“It gave me my first professional job, in Graham Reid's Billy Plays.

“It gave me the sharpest and most generous of audiences at the Opera House and at the Lyric theatre, and at cinemas across the years, who welcomed and supported my films.

“I’m proud to say that you can take the boy out of Belfast, but you can't take Belfast out of the boy.”

Sir Kenneth becomes the 82nd person to receive the honour of the Freedom of Belfast.

He shares the honour with the likes of the poet Michael Longley, the singer Van Morrison and the the Olympic gold medalist Dame Mary Peters.

Details of his official Freedom of the City ceremony will be announced at a later date.