The Fellowship: BAFTA’s top prize
Awarded annually, the Fellowship is the highest accolade BAFTA can bestow on any one figure, recognising an exceptional contribution to film, television or games. The first incarnation of this honour came in 1951, when Anthony Asquith, Michael Balcon, Cecil Hepworth, Laurence Olivier, George Pearson and Carol Reed were named the first fellows of the British Film Academy. A year later, Vivien Leigh became the first female fellow.

On the way to becoming BAFTA as we know it today, the British Film Academy merged with The Guild of Television Producers and Directors to become the Society of Film and Television Arts. In 1971, the first SFTA Annual Fellowship – the forerunner of what is now known simply as ‘The Fellowship’ – was awarded to Alfred Hitchcock. This was the first time the honour was bestowed at a ceremony, reflecting BAFTA’s evolution from honouring those involved in the film industry, to television – with TV producer Grace Wyndham Goldie’s fellowship in 1973 – and eventually games, with The Sims creator Will Wright becoming the inaugural games fellow in 2007.

Image: Publicity still of Alfred Hitchcock on the set of The Birds (1963)

NBC Universal /Reeder Brand Management /BFI National Archive

Video: Alfred Hitchcock receiving the first annual Fellowship in 1971 (Source: BBC Motion Gallery).