Joanna Lumley is to receive the BAFTA Fellowship, the British Academy’s highest honor. The “Absolutely Fabulous” actress will receive special career award, which is given to an individual in recognition of their outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games, at this year’s British Academy Television Awards on May 14.
BAFTA chair Jane Lush said Lumley, who has been nominated six times for a BAFTA, winning twice in 1993 and 1995 for “Absolutely Fabulous,” was a “true icon of television.”
The actress joins her “Absolutely Fabulous” co-star Jennifer Saunders (pictured with Lumley at the premiere for last year’s “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie), who was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship in 2009. Other television Fellows include David Attenborough, Michael Palin, Ken Loach, Harold Pinter, Maggie Smith and Julie Walters.
Lumley said the award was the “grandest and most unexpected prize I have ever had the joy of receiving.” “Nothing could make me prouder or happier than being awarded this phenomenal honor,” said Lumley. “To be counted amongst the greatest talents and stars of our industry is an awesome gift.”
The actress is known around the world for her role as Patsy Stone in the long-running British comedy “Absolutely Fabulous,” first playing the role in 1992. It saw its first big screen spin-off released by 20th Century Fox last summer, which grossed $37.9 million at the worldwide box office, including £16.1 million ($21.4 million) in U.K. and Ireland.
Over a six decade career Lumley has regularly moved between television and film, with one of her earliest credits coming for a small role in 1969 James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” but she remains best known for her television work.
Her break-out role came in 1976 as Purdey in hit British spy show “The New Avengers,” opposite Patrick Macnee. The show was a sequel to ’60s global hit “The Avengers” and sold to 120 countries worldwide. Lumley received a special award for her role in the show in 2000. She followed it up with British sci-fi adventure series “Sapphire & Steel” opposite David McCallum, with the pair playing the eponymous interdimensional operatives.
Recent film roles have included “The Wolf of Wall Street” and last year’s “Me Before You.” The actress recently completed filming Richard Loncraine’s comedy “Finding Your Feet,” opposite Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie, which will be released in the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand by eOne and is sold worldwide by Protagonist Pictures.
The British Academy Television Awards will be held at London’s Royal Festival Hall on May 14.