Mel Brooks is to be the recipient of this year’s BAFTA fellowship, it has been announced.
Awarded in recognition of “an outstanding and exceptional contribution” to film, the fellowship is in effect BAFTA’s lifetime achievement award; Brooks follows previous awardees such as Sidney Poitier, Mike Leigh and Helen Mirren. The fellowship is also given in the areas of TV and video games, and was first bestowed in 1971, to Alfred Hitchcock.
Brooks said: “I am not overwhelmed, but I am definitely whelmed by this singular honour,” said Brooks, who added that although he was humbled by the award, he thinks “that BAFTA has made a strangely surprising yet ultimately wise decision”.
Brooks, who achieved renown as the director and performer in a string of successful film comedies, including The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, also set up influential production company Brooksfilms, which was behind The Elephant Man, David Cronenberg’s The Fly and 84 Charing Cross Road.
It’s not the American entertainer’s first British honour. In 2015, he received a BFI fellowship, again as a lifetime achievement award. Brooks will be given the Bafta fellowship at the EE British Academy film awards on 12 February.