1949

Sitting Pretty: Henry Moore designs first trophy
The very first trophy to be presented by the British Film Academy was designed by famed British sculptor Henry Moore – a bronze statuette of a seated figure holding an olive branch. The statuette sat on a plinth that was engraved each year with the winning film.

Five were produced in the first instance – presented to the winning producers (as Best Film is today), with the intention that the winning production company/studio would exhibit their trophy for a year before returning it to the Academy (a smaller trophy featuring the olive branch in Moore’s main statuette was presented to all winners that they were able to keep).

Understandably, some filmmakers found the need to return the main trophy after a year a bit of a wrench, and some enquired about obtaining full-size replicas after returning the originals. Whilst Moore was agreeable to this suggestion, the Academy raised concerns at a Council meeting in May 1953: “i) The Award was made to the whole Unit and not specifically to the Director; (ii) The making of further copies of the bronze would decrease its value as an asset to the Academy.” With Moore resistant to the idea of smaller-scale replicas, it was agreed not to make any further replicas of any size.

Several of the original five were auctioned off – with Moore’s blessing – many years later to help with the refurbishment of 195 Piccadilly before its opening in 1976. Whilst their current whereabouts are unknown, a replica is on display at 195 Piccadilly.



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A replica of the first BFA trophy, designed by Henry Moore (BAFTA)

Video: Newsreel footage of Laurence Olivier receiving the award for Best Film from a British Source for Richard III, at the British Film Academy Awards in 1956 (Source: BBC copyright material reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation).