The amazing Baroness Floella Benjamin honoured with BAFTA Fellowship award at the BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises

The amazing Baroness Floella Benjamin honoured with BAFTA Fellowship award at the BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises
Photo supplied BAFTA/Rachell Smith

By Jill Dando News

Children’s campaigner Baroness Floella Benjamin was presented with the BAFTA Fellowship at the BAFTA Television Awards.

The BAFTA Fellowship is the highest accolade bestowed by BAFTA upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, games or television.

Baroness Benjamin is a multi-talented actress, writer, singer, broadcaster, businesswoman, independent producer and regulator at OFCOM, as well as a life peer and legislator in the House of Lords.

From the moment she appeared on the nation’s screens fifty years ago, she has been a tireless advocate of diversity and inclusion, and for the rights of children.

Baroness Benjamin is beloved by people across the country of all ages and perspectives for her presenting, writing and campaigning work, and for the many impressive ways in which she has made the creative industries a more equitable and positive place, and harnessed the power of TV to inspire future generations.

Sara Putt, Chair of BAFTA, said: “We are honoured to present Baroness Benjamin the BAFTA Fellowship for her tireless support of children and young people, her impact on television broadcasting, and for her unwavering championing of diversity.

“She is an unstoppable force for good with a determination to create opportunities and positive role models for future generations that has seen her effect a tremendous amount of positive change over fifty years and counting.

She is a deservedly a national treasure and we can’t wait to celebrate the impact of her work to-date on 12 May at the BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises.”

Baroness Floella Benjamin said: “My heart is full of joy and happiness. I feel as if I’m standing on the summit of life’s mountain, looking down at the wonderful experiences I have had in my career in the television industry for over 50 years.

“It’s been an adventurous journey, with many challenges and adversities, but here I am, receiving the highest accolade BAFTA can bestow. I am delighted that my work, which has predominantly been for children, is being recognised and celebrated in this way.”

Perhaps best known for presenting the iconic children’s programmes Playschool and Play Away on the BBC between 1976 and 1988, Baroness Benjamin has worked and advocated for children’s television for over 50 years and counting.

In government, she successfully fought to bring in legislation for Child Performance Regulations, tax credit for Children’s programming and legislation for Public Service Broadcasters to commission UK made television productions.

Starting her career in 1970, Baroness Benjamin appeared in hit stage musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Black Mikado, before moving on to act in various productions on both BBC and ITV, including Within These Walls, The Gentle Touch, Angels, Waterloo Sunset and Bergerac. Her most recent programmes include Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies, Chuggington, Sarah Jane Adventures, Line of Beauty and CBeebies Bedtime Stories.

From the very beginning of her career in broadcasting, Baroness Floella Benjamin has campaigned for diversity both in front and behind the camera and now advises the BBC and ITV on their diversity policies. 

In 2010 she became the first Trinidadian woman to become a Baroness in the House of Lords. Her legislative work focuses on children’s rights, diversity and media.

Alongside her groundbreaking work in children’s television, Baroness Benjamin was the Chair of the Windrush Commemoration Committee from 2018 to 2022, and was charged with creating a National Windrush Monument unveiled at Waterloo Station in 2022.

Baroness Benjamin joined the Society of Film and Television Arts (as BAFTA was then known) in 1989. From 1993-2001 she was a BAFTA Council Member and Chair of BAFTA Children’s Committee from 1997 to 1998 and Chair of the TV Committee the following year.

During this time, she played an important role in the creation of an awards ceremony for children’s television and film and presented the first children’s awards’ ceremony in 1996. She was presented with a BAFTA Special Award in 2004.

Over the years, Baroness Floella Benjamin has received numerous additional accolades including an OBE in 2001for her contribution to children’s broadcasting, an RTS Award, a BKSTS Fellowship, an Honorary Fellowship of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, a lifetime award at the MBCC Awards, a Lifetime Women in Film and Television Award, the ACA-JM Barrie Award for her lasting legacy to children and was also listed in 100 Great Black Britons.

She was made a Dame of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2020. She also took part in the coronation of King Charles and carried the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove, and was chosen by Her Majesty the Queen to receive the Order of Merit, which she received from King Charles in November 2022.

The Fellowship was presented to Baroness Floella Benjamin OM, DBE DL during the BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises ceremony on Sunday 12 May at the Royal Festival Hall.

The ceremony was hosted by comedians Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan.

BAFTA Fellows previously honoured for their television work in television include Meera Syal CBE, Sir Billy Connolly, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Jon Snow, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Joanna Lumley, Melvyn Bragg, Michael Palin, Sir Trevor MacDonald, Sir David Attenborough, Dame Julie Walters and Kate Adie.

The BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises are the biggest night in the television calendar, recognising the incredible quality and variety of television that was enjoyed in 2023, with shows such as The CrownBlack Mirror (Demon 79)Happy ValleySlow Horses and The Sixth Commandment leading the nominations. This year’s shortlist was announced on 14th March; the shortlist can be found here.

Follow @BAFTA on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter to get all of the latest updates, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews from the 2024 BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises.

#BAFTATVAwards with @pandocruises

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