Joanna Lumley was presented with the Special Recognition Award at this year’s National Television Awards in London on Wednesday night, in honour of a career that has spanned over 40 years and taken in modelling and campaigning as well as acting.
A video montage shown to an audience at the O2 Arena, and to ITV viewers, included tributes from some of Lumley’s wide ranging admirers. Martin Scorsese, who directed Lumley oppsite Leonardo DiCaprio in upcoming movie Wolf of Wall Street, called her “a wonderful actress”, while William Roache, who starred as Lumley’s on-screen lover Ken Barlow in Coronation Street in 1973 called her perfomances as Elaine Perkins “brilliant and instinctive”.
Sir David Attenborough spoke of her activism on behalf of the Gurkhas and other groups, noting that “she was a considerable televison personality, and when she stepped out of the mould it was rather surprising,” adding that “she engaged the politican at his own game and beat him.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said he “adored” Lumley’s turn alongside Jennifer Saunders in sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, recalling some “magic moments of British television”. He also praised her “incredibly stylish performance” in cult 60s series The Avengers.
Lumley appeared overwhelmed by the tributes, telling her admirers “I love you so much! This is so strange, to see my life layed out in front of you. I’m so touched by all those things people said.
“I’m so touched that Martin Scorsese could remember who I was! David Attenbrough, my hero – life doesn’t get better than this. Thank you, with all my heart, thank you.”