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A Short History

The Academy was formed on 16 April 1947 when a group of the most eminent names in the British film production industry gathered in a room at the Hyde Park Hotel. The film director David Lean was appointed Chairman. Their fundamental aim was "to recognise those who had contributed outstanding creative work towards the advancement of British film."

Eleven years later, the British Film Academy merged with the Guild of Television Producers and Directors to form The Society of Film and Television Arts. David Lean donated royalties from Bridge On The River Kwai and Doctor Zhivago to The Society and these served as an invaluable source of working capital in its early years.

When Her Majesty The Queen made the decision to gift the royalties from Richard Cawston's documentary Royal Family to the Society in the early 1970s, it enabled the Society to move from its office suite in Great Portland Street to 195 Piccadilly, which was converted to house two preview theatres and a meeting place for members.

In 1976, the opening of the new headquarters was attended by Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH Princess Anne and the Earl Mountbatten of Burma. The Society became officially known as The British Academy of Film and Television Arts and BAFTA entered the nation's vocabulary.

More about the history of BAFTA...

Mitzi Cunliffe is awarded a special version of her BAFTA Mask by Richard Price (l) and Johnny Goodman (r).

Mitzi Cunliffe and the BAFTA Mask

26 May 2009

The iconic BAFTA mask was designed in 1955 by US sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe and has become an internationally-recognised symbol of excellence in the art forms of the moving image.

Sir Alec Guiness celebrates his Academy fellowship with Sir David Lean in 1989.

Origins of the Academy

17 September 2007

George Clarke tells the story of the British Academy and the dedicated, passionate individuals who have ensured its survival.