LONDON -- Test-tubebaby pioneers, the Beatles' record producer and the heroes of one of Britain's worst sea disasters are among those named in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year honors list.

Other recipients range from actress Diana Rigg to the officer who taught Prince Andrew to fly helicopters.

But the twice-yearly ritual whereby Britain honors achievement and good deeds has been marred by a fuss over premature publication of the list by the Sun newspaper.

The awards, which carry no cash prize, come from the monarch, most of them at the prime minister's recommendation. Critics claim they are abused for political ends, and that the titles they confer are anachronistic.

This year's list of nearly 700 people is highlighted by the heroes of the March 6 ferry disaster off Belgium.

Andrew Parker stretched his 6-foot, 3-inch body into a human bridge across which survivors scrambled to safety. Michael Skippen, the ferry's head waiter, died while trying to maintain calm in the ferry's flooded restaurant. They are awarded the George Medal for gallantry.

The queen is also honoring George Martin, the virtuoso arranger and producer sometimes known as "the Fifth Beatle," and Lt. Cmdr. Barry Kirby, who taught her second son, Prince Andrew, to fly helicopters for the Royal Navy. Martin becomes a CBE, or Commander of the British Empire, and Kirby a member of the Royal Victorian Order.

Diana Rigg, Judi Dench and Denholm Elliott represent the theater world. Dench becomes a dame, the female equivalent of a knight, and Rigg and Elliott are made CBEs.

Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards, who pioneered in vitro fertilization, are made CBEs, just a week after the 1,000th test-tube baby conceived with their help was born.

Henry Cotton, a pioneer of modern golf, is being awarded what is believed to be the first posthumous knighthood. Cotton died Dec. 22, already having been told of the honor.

The honors list includes life peerages for Britain's Chief Rabbi Sir Immanuel Jakobovits, Master of the Rolls Sir John Donaldson -- England's senior civil judge -- and retiring Cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong.

As life peers, they will be called "lord" and hold seats in the unelected House of Lords.