1955

Female Firsts: Women making BAFTA history
Women took a key role in BAFTA from the earliest days of the Academy, with pioneering documentary filmmaker Jill Craigie joining its council in the 1950s. Of course, even now women remain under-represented in the TV and film industry, but female talent - both on camera and behind it - has been recognised by BAFTA throughout its history, particularly in craft categories such as Make Up & Hair and Costume Design.

One landmark was the introduction of the British Screenplay category in 1955, the first non-acting award given to a named nominee rather than the film. Within a year, Bridget Boland was nominated for scripting political drama The Prisoner, starring Alec Guinness, before Shelagh Delaney won the prize with co-writer Tony Richardson in 1962 for A Taste of Honey.

Legendary producer Joy Harington became the first woman to win TV Production in 1956, with Joan Kemp-Welch the first female BAFTA-winning director two years later.

As society and the industry evolved, award categories needed to be renamed. After many years in which the Television Craft Awards featured a prize for ‘Video Cameraman’, this was changed to ‘Film or Video Photography’ in 1992 – with the first winner being Diane Tammes for her work on the documentary series Cutting Edge.

Image: Rita Tushingham in A Taste of Honey (1961) co-written by Shelagh Delaney, the first woman working behind the camera to win a BAFTA. The film also scored wins for Tushingham who won Most Promising Newcomer in a Leading Role, and Dora Bryan who took Best Actress. (Image: Woodfall Film Productions / BFI National Archive)



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Woodfall Film Productions/BFI National Archive

Video: Kenneth More interviews producer Betty Box, one of the original Academy members, following the 1956 Film Awards ceremony. Screenwriter, producer and director Bill Lipscomb also features (Source: BBC copyright material reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation.).