BIFA 2017: Acting legend Vanessa Redgrave to receive prestigious Richard Harris Award

Previous winners of The British Independent Film Awards prize have included John Hurt, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Julie Walters, Emma Thompson and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Vanessa Redgrave

Vanessa Redgrave has been announced as the 2017 winner of the prestigious Richard Harris Award after six decades of “outstanding work” in the British film industry.

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The 80-year-old actress will join the ranks of past winners including John Hurt, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Emma Thompson when she picks up the prize at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs) on Sunday 10th December.

In a statement to RadioTimes.com, Redgrave said: “I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a wide range of films throughout my career but some of the work I’m most proud of has been in British films.

” One of my greatest memories is back in 1966, when director Karel Reisz chose me for his small independent British film Morgan – A Suitable Case For Treatment. The film was part of the totally new film-making approach of Tony Richardson and Lindsay Anderson. I’m so pleased to be receiving this Award at the BIFAs.”

The Richard Harris Award was introduced in 2002, the year the actor died at the the age of 72. He had played everyone from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator to Harry Potter’s headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the first movie, The Philosopher’s Stone.

Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave in Camelot
Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave in Camelot (Warner Brothers/Getty)

The late actor’s son Jared Harris, who played the Queen’s father King George IV in Netflix series The Crown, said this year’s choice has special significance.

“Vanessa is one of the finest actresses of her generation, and indeed any generation, and we’re thrilled that she’s receiving this award,” he commented. “This is especially meaningful as Vanessa was Guinevere to Richard’s King Arthur.”

Redgrave and Harris starred opposite each other in Camelot, a musical comedy film which came out in 1967.

The actress may struggle to find space for a new gong in her groaning awards cabinet. Redgrave has already received pretty much every major acting award: an Oscar, a Bafta, two Golden Gloves, two Emmys, an Olivier, a Tony, and the Best Actress award at Cannes. To top it off, she was awarded a Bafta Fellowship in 2010.

This is also not the first time she’s won at the BIFAs: in 2011 she scooped up a prize for her performance in Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut Coriolanus.

Redgrave is a legend on the stage (from Richard III to The Cherry Orchard to Much Ado About Nothing) but is also a star of the screen – both big and small. Her TV credits include Black Box, Nip/Tuck, Call the Midwife and, most recently, Man in an Orange Shirt.

At the cinema she’s been in A Man for All Seasons (which won six Oscars), Blow-up, Isadora, The Sea Gull and Julia. Her next big screen appearance will be in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.

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The British Independent Film Awards will take place on Sunday 10th December at Old Billingsgate