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Home Classic Movies BAFTA Fellowship: Very Few Women, Very Few Outside UK/Hollywood Film Industry

BAFTA Fellowship: Very Few Women, Very Few Outside UK/Hollywood Film Industry

Alfred Hitchcock Psycho first Bafta Fellowship recipient
Alfred Hitchcock on the ‘Psycho’ set: The very first BAFTA Fellowship recipient.

BAFTA Fellowship: Focus on men in the American/British show business industry

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

The first recipient of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ Fellowship, “awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement in the art forms of the moving image,” was director Alfred Hitchcock in 1971. Dozens of film, television, and assorted media personalities have become BAFTA Fellows since then (including video game makers since 2007), though the pattern here – as most elsewhere – is that achievements by men are deemed much more important than those by women. (See further below the full list of BAFTA Fellowship recipients.)

The only woman to become a BAFTA Fellow in the Fellowship’s first 25 years was television producer Grace Wyndham Goldie (1973), a pioneer of Current Affairs programs on the BBC. Since then,* that short list has gone on to include actresses Maggie Smith (1996), Julie Christie (1997), Elizabeth Taylor (1999), Judi Dench (2001), Vanessa Redgrave (2010), Helen Mirren (2014), and Julie Walters (2014); actress and sometime director Jeanne Moreau (1996); editor Anne V. Coates (2007); and television actresses/writers Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders (both in 2009).[1]

Also of lesser importance to the British Academy are achievements by those outside either the United Kingdom or Hollywood. Exceptions to this particular rule – all but one from Continental Europe – include the aforementioned actress/director Jeanne Moreau, French oceanographer/documentary filmmaker Jacques Cousteau (1975), Japanese Nintendo video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto (2010), and the following filmmakers: Abel Gance (France, 1981), Andrzej Wajda (Poland, 1982), Federico Fellini (Italy, 1987), Ingmar Bergman (Sweden, 1988), and Louis Malle (France, 1991).

* List of BAFTA Fellowship recipients updated in 2016.

Posthumous Fellows, Steven Spielberg fast track

Also of note, comedians Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise (1999) and U.S.-born, U.K.-based filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (2000) received their Fellowship after they were already dead.

Steven Spielberg, on the other hand, got his Fellowship in 1986 – after being in the business for less than two decades. Spielberg, in fact, became a BAFTA Fellow before the likes of decades-long veterans Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Alec Guinness, Ronald Neame, John Gielgud, and Billy Wilder – never mind the fact that the last two began their film careers as far back as the 1920s.

Timing helps

And finally, it should be pointed out that in order for someone to be named a Fellow for his/her film achievements, it helps to either have a “prestige” movie out or one about to come out. Here are a few examples:

  • 1976 Fellow Laurence Olivier had the upcoming Marathon Man.
  • 1978 Fellow Fred Zinnemann had Julia.
  • 1982 Fellow Andrzej Wajda had Man of Iron (and the Solidarity Movement going on).
  • 1983 Fellow Richard Attenborough had Gandhi.
  • 1986 Fellow Steven Spielberg had The Color Purple, his first “real” drama (i.e., not featuring sharks, high-speed chases, or outer-space creatures).
  • 1989 Fellow Alec Guinness had Little Dorrit.
  • 1997 Fellow Julie Christie had the upcoming Afterglow.
  • 2001 Fellow Albert Finney had Erin Brockovich.
  • 2001 Fellow Judi Dench had Chocolat and the upcoming Iris.
  • 2012 Fellow Martin Scorsese had Hugo.

Even the very first (1971) BAFTA Fellow, Alfred Hitchcock, had Frenzy coming out in 1972 (filmed in summer/fall 1971).

Jeanne Moreau Rare non-Hollywood, non-British woman Bafta Fellowship recipientJeanne Moreau: Rare non-Hollywood, non-British woman Bafta Fellowship recipient.

List of BAFTA Fellowship honorees

Below is the list of BAFTA Fellowship recipients (up to 2016).

1971. Alfred Hitchcock.

1972. Freddie Young.

1973. Grace Wyndham Goldie.

1974. David Lean.

1975. Jacques Cousteau.

1976. Charles Chaplin. Laurence Olivier.

1977. Denis Forman.

1978. Fred Zinnemann.

1979. Lew Grade. Huw Wheldon.

1980. David Attenborough. John Huston.

1981. Abel Gance. Michael Powell. Emeric Pressburger.

1982. Andrzej Wajda.

1983. Richard Attenborough.

1984. Hugh Greene. Sam Spiegel.

1985. Jeremy Isaacs.

1986. Steven Spielberg.

1987. Federico Fellini.

1988. Ingmar Bergman.

1989. Alec Guinness.

1990. Paul Fox.

1991. Louis Malle.

1992. John Gielgud. David Plowright.

1993. Sydney Samuelson. Colin Young.

1994. Michael Grade.

1995. Billy Wilder.

1996. Jeanne Moreau. Ronald Neame. John Schlesinger. Maggie Smith.

1997. Woody Allen. Steven Bochco. Julie Christie. Oswald Morris. Harold Pinter. David Rose.

1998. Sean Connery. Bill Cotton.

1999. Eric Morecambe & Ernie Wise. Elizabeth Taylor.

2000. Michael Caine. Stanley Kubrick. Peter Bazalgette.

2001. Albert Finney. John Thaw. Judi Dench.

2002. Warren Beatty. Merchant Ivory Productions (James Ivory. Ismail Merchant).

2002. Andrew Davies. John Mills.

2003. Saul Zaentz. David Jason.

2004. John Boorman. Roger Graef.

2005. John Barry. David Frost.

2006. David Puttnam. Ken Loach.

2007. Anne V. Coates. Richard Curtis. Will Wright.

2008. Anthony Hopkins. Bruce Forsyth.

2009. Terry Gilliam. Nolan Bushnell. Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders.

2010. Vanessa Redgrave. Shigeru Miyamoto. Melvyn Bragg.

2011. Christopher Lee. Peter Molyneux. Trevor McDonald.

2012. Martin Scorsese. Rolf Harris (later annulled following his conviction of “indecent assault” in 2014).

2013. Alan Parker. Gabe Newell. Michael Palin.

2014. Helen Mirren. Julie Walters. Rockstar Games (accepted by Dan Houser, Sam Houser, Leslie Benzies, and Aaron Garbut).

2015. Mike Leigh. David Braben. Jon Snow.

2016. Sidney Poitier. John Carmack.

Anna Neagle Victoria the Great No BAFTA FellowshipAnna Neagle in ‘Victoria the Great’: No BAFTA Fellowship for one of British cinema’s biggest box office draws.

No BAFTA Fellowship for these women

[1] Among the dozens of women – mostly actresses – who played a key role in 20th century British cinema, but who went to the grave (post 1971) without a BAFTA Fellowship, are the following:

  • Anna Neagle (Spring in Park Lane, Odette).
  • Margaret Lockwood (The Lady Vanishes, The Wicked Lady).
  • Anny Ondra (Blackmail, The Manxman).
  • Deborah Kerr (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus).
  • Betty Balfour (Squibs, Champagne).
  • Joan Greenwood (Whisky Galore, The Man in the White Suit).
  • Phyllis Calvert (Madonna of the Seven Moons, Broken Journey).
  • Wendy Hiller (Pygmalion, A Man for All Seasons).
  • Valerie Hobson (Great Expectations, Kind Hearts and Coronets).
  • Celia Johnson (This Happy Breed, Brief Encounter).
  • Flora Robson (Caesar and Cleopatra, Saraband for Dead Lovers).
  • Margaret Rutherford (Passport to Pimlico, The Importance of Being Earnest).
  • Gracie Fields (Sally in Our Alley, Look Up and Laugh).
  • Director/screenwriter Muriel Box (The Seventh Veil, Simon and Laura).
  • Producer Betty E. Box (Doctor in the House, No Love for Johnnie).

Additionally, two-time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson, who’ll be turning 80 on May 6, remains unhonored. Jackson’s British film credits range from Ken Russell’s Women in Love and John Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday to Alan Bridges’ The Return of the Soldier and Russell’s Salome’s Last Dance.


British Academy of Film and Television Arts / BAFTA website.

Bafta Fellowship recipient Alfred Hitchcock Psycho publicity shot: Paramount Pictures.

Anna Neagle Victoria the Great publicity shot: Herbert Wilcox Productions / RKO Pictures.

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