A New Face: The BAFTA mask
Surprisingly, the BAFTA mask that’s synonymous with excellence in the moving image wasn’t originally designed for BAFTA. It had actually been commissioned by the Guild of Television Producers and Directors in 1955, who’d approached sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe to design a new award for their annual ceremony.

Whilst the British Film Academy and the subsequent Society of Film and Television Arts had presented its own range of trophies, statuettes and plaques over the years, the launch of a new premises at 195 Piccadilly in 1976 prompted a re-brand as the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and a decision to adopt Cunliffe’s trophy design - which hadn't been used by the TV Guild since 1967 - across its ceremonies.

Cunliffe based the front of the trophy on the theatrical tragicomic masks, whilst on its hollow reverse she placed an electronic symbol around one eye and a screen symbol around the other, to link dramatic production and television technology. The original design included a revolving support to showcase both sides of the mask.

Today, the phosphor bronze masks weigh in at 3.6kg and have been forged at the New Pro Foundries in West Drayton since 1976. In 1992, Cunliffe was presented with her own trophy - the Special Award - in recognition of her contribution to the Academy.

Image: Mitzi Cunliffe in 1955 with the design and sketches for what would become the BAFTA mask in 1976 (Estate of the Artist/The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery/University of Leeds Art Collection)

Estate of the Artist/The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery/University of Leeds Art Collection

Video: A behind the scenes look at the making of the BAFTA mask (Source: BAFTA).