All of these factors have contributed to the importance of the acting awards to BAFTA since the first of them were presented in 1953. As the profile of the awards grew, the Academy recognised the importance of including actors in order to spark public interest and conversation. Originally there were awards in four categories, recognising both national and international talent.
The first winners of the prizes for British Actor and Actress were Ralph Richardson and Vivien Leigh, while the awards for Best Foreign Actor and Actress went to Marlon Brando and Simone Signoret.
At the 1969 Film Awards ceremony, the categories evolved again. The British and international acting categories were combined, and two new awards in recognition of supporting actors and actresses were created. Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn were the first actors to win the Best Actor and Actress awards once the British and international acting categories had been combined.
Image: Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn on the set of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967).