Mel Brooks has applauded Bafta’s “strangely surprising yet ultimately wise decision” to grant him its annual Fellowship, putting him in the company of movie legends Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock and Judi Dench.
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, presented Brooks with the award during the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday 12th February at the Royal Albert Hall.
Simon Pegg and Nathan Lane paid tribute to the “comic genius, who has single-handedly raised flatulence to an art form” and gave us “Hitler on ice, Hitler on land, and Hitler on Broadway”.
The Fellowship is designed to recognise an individual’s “outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games.”
Previous recipients include Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Alan Parker, Helen Mirren, Mike Leigh and 2016’s Sidney Poitier.
Mel Brooks said: “I am not overwhelmed, but I am definitely whelmed by this singular honour.
“To be included among such iconic talents is absolutely humbling. In choosing me for the 2017 Fellowship I think that Bafta has made a strangely surprising yet ultimately wise decision.”
Bafta’s Chief Executive Amanda Berry said: “Mel Brooks is a truly unique and multi-talented filmmaker. We are absolutely thrilled to award him the Fellowship, the highest honour of the evening, at this year’s EE British Academy Film Awards.”
Brooks is one of only a dozen EGOTs – that is, individuals who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award. His career began in the 1950s and has spanned comedy and drama, film and TV.
His works include Get Smart with Buck Henry, feature film and Broadway hit The Producers, Gene Wilder movie Blazing Saddles, box office hit Young Frankenstein, and The Elephant Man.
Last year Brooks was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the US government.
The Bafta Film Awards, hosted by Stephen Fry, air on BBC1 on Sunday 12th February