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Idris Elba OBE to receive BAFTA Special Award for creative contribution to television

21 July 2020

The internationally renowned actor, writer and producer will be recognised at the 2020 Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards on Friday 31 July

London, 21 July 2020: The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced today that Idris Elba OBE will receive the BAFTA Special Award, in recognition of his exceptional career and his commitment to championing diversity and new talent in the industry. The actor, writer and producer will receive the accolade at this month’s Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards, broadcast at 19:00 BST on BBC One on Friday 31 July and hosted by Richard Ayoade.

The Special Award is one of BAFTA’s highest honours, with previous recipients for television including Nicola Shindler, Clare Balding, John Motson, Henry Normal, Nick Fraser, Lenny Henry, Delia Smith and Cilla Black.

Idris Elba rose to prominence as Stringer Bell in The Wire and gained acclaim for his starring role in hit BBC drama Luther. Elba’s impact on the international television landscape goes beyond his acting accomplishments: a fierce advocate for diversity and new talent, he founded production company Green Door Pictures in 2013 with a focus on inclusion and opportunity for undiscovered filmmaking talent.

The son of African immigrants, Elba was raised in East London. His path to international recognition was set when he received a grant from the Prince’s Trust, which allowed him to earn a place at the National Youth Music Theatre.

In 2016, Elba used his influence to challenge British parliament on the lack of diversity on screen. In the same year, he made Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s Honours List and Time 100’s list of the Most Influential People in the World. Green Door continues to provide Elba with a channel for his influence, aligning with Film London, Creative Access and the MAMA Youth Project to provide on-the-job training and help undiscovered talent find a way into the industry. In 2017, Elba worked with BBC Three to commission and produce a block of original short-form content that featured the best new and emerging talent in the industry.

Last year, Elba starred in and executive produced the hotly anticipated return of Luther (BBC One), whilst In The Long Run – the Sky series Elba created and stars in, inspired by his own experiences – will return for a third series soon.

Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA, said: “We're thrilled to honour Idris Elba OBE with the BAFTA Special Award at this year’s Television Awards ceremony. Idris is one of Britain’s best known actors in the UK and internationally with a long and successful career on-screen, and an accomplished director, producer and writer. He is also a driving force for championing diversity, ensuring talented people from all backgrounds achieve their potential. We’re delighted to recognise Idris, and his outstanding work, at this year’s ceremony.”

Idris Elba OBE said: “It's a great privilege to be honoured with the BAFTA Special Award.  It’s been a mission of mine to provide opportunity and access to emerging talent from diverse backgrounds in this industry, which is the same opportunity I received many years ago from open minded and diversity conscious casting.  I thank BAFTA for recognizing myself and others who are dedicated to the same cause, as these are all necessary steps towards helping to shift the awareness and understanding of the diversity gap in entertainment.”

The Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards and the British Academy Television Craft Awards champion excellence by recognising and celebrating the very best in British television programmes, performances and behind-the-scenes talent from 2019.

On Friday evening, Chernobyl scooped seven BAFTA TV Craft Awards. Looking ahead to the Virgin Media TV BAFTAs on Friday 31 July, Chernobyl also leads the pack with four nominations, followed by The Crown, Fleabag and Girl/Haji with three nominations each.

To watch Idris Elba OBE accept the BAFTA Special Award, tune in to the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards 2020 on BBC One at 19:00 BST on Friday 31 July 2020.


Notes to Editors:

The full nominations for this year’s awards can be found here.

Photography is available at


For further information, please contact:

Will Wood, Managing Director, Multitude Media

M: 07817 014 515

E: [email protected]


Amanda Hearn, Publicity Director - Television at Multitude Media

M: 07950 803 771

E: [email protected]


Idris Elba Bio

Idris Elba is an actor, producer, director and musician continually securing his place as one of the most versatile performers in Hollywood. In addition to his Golden Globe win, he is the first male actor to receive dual SAG awards in one evening – Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role and Outstanding Performance in a TV Movie or Miniseries.

Elba’s career skyrocketed on the small screen in some of the U.K.’s top-rated shows. Soon after, Elba landed the role of Stringer Bell in HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire which garnered a NAACP Image Award nomination. In 2010, Elba landed the title role on the BBC mini-series Luther, earning him a Golden Globe Award, SAG Award and four Primetime Emmy Award nominations. The series returned in 2019 for its fifth season.

In 2005, Elba began his film career with the Golden Globe-nominated projects American Gangster, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Beasts of No Nation which also received a SAG Award. He also starred in The Mountain Between Us, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War and the Oscar®-nominated film Molly’s Game. Elba has also loaned his voice in such projects as The Jungle Book, Finding Dory, and Zootopia, which grossed over $600 million worldwide. In 2019, he starred opposite Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in the hit action film Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw and was part of the star-studded ensemble in Tom Hooper’s Cats.

Behind the camera, Elba made his feature film directorial debut at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival with Yardie. In 2013, Elba founded his production company, Green Door Pictures to champion diversity of thought. With Green Door, Elba released the documentary Mandela, My Dad and Me, produced the TV mini-series Guerrilla for Showtime and created, produced and appears in the 2018 Sky comedy series In the Long Run, which is returning for a third series soon. He also created, produced and starred in the Netflix comedy series Turn Up Charlie.

Next up, Elba will appear in Warner Bros. The Suicide Squad with Margot Robbie and Green Door's independent film Concrete Cowboys, which is expected to be released  in 2021.


About Virgin Media

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The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a world-leading independent arts charity that brings the very best work in film, games and television to public attention and supports the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. Through its Awards ceremonies and year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – which includes workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the UK, USA and Asia – BAFTA identifies and celebrates excellence, discovers, inspires and nurtures new talent, and enables learning and creative collaboration. For advice and inspiration from the best creative minds in working in film, games and television, visit For more, visit