Entertainment & Arts

Lord Attenborough celebrated at London gala

Lord Puttnam, Sir Michael Caine and Michael Attenborough at the Entirely Up To You, Darling gala
Image caption Lord Puttnam, Sir Michael Caine and Michael Attenborough were among the attendees at Tuesday's gala

Actor Sir Michael Caine, film producer Lord Puttnam and writer Stephen Fry helped celebrate Lord Attenborough at a charity gala held in his honour.

Video messages from Steven Spielberg, Sir Ben Kingsley and Sir John Major were also played at the event, hosted by Fry at Old Billingsgate in London.

"Dickie" did not attend the Entirely Up To You, Darling gala, named after one of the 89-year-old's catchphrases.

In a message, the veteran director and actor said he was "deeply honoured".

"I started in movies at the age of 19, and now in my 90th year I am truly proud to be still able to contribute to this magnificent art form of ours," he told the audience in the message read by his theatre director son Michael.

The event marked the launch of a National Film and Television School (NFTS) fund for young filmmakers, named after the Oscar-winning director of Gandhi and A Bridge Too Far.

In his message, Spielberg called Lord Attenborough - whom he directed in 1993's Jurassic Park - "one of my favourite people on the planet".

"He's made some of the best movies of all time and has made such a contribution to society, to cinema and to everyone whose hearts he has touched with his words, works, his leadership and that divine inspiration that radiates from that wonderful smile."

"Richard's many gifts - his affection, his extraordinary empathy, his love of fellow human beings - was enhanced during his life as an actor," said Sr Ben, who won an Oscar for playing the title role in Gandhi.

"He is one of the lords of life in my experience. Anyone who is in his sphere of influence is deeply enriched as a human being."

Image caption Stephen Fry hosted the charity event, held at Old Billingsgate in London

In his message, former Prime Minister Sir John Major said Lord Attenborough had played a pivotal role in securing National Lottery funding for the UK film industry.

"There are many reasons it is right to honour Dickie, but his foresight and crucial intervention... must certainly rank among one of the most important," he said.

Tuesday's audience, from which the press were excluded at the request of the Attenborough family, were also shown a message from Chelsea FC vice captain Frank Lampard.

The 34-year-old midfielder said the filmmaker - a life president of the London football club - had been "a massive inspiration to the players past and present".

Lord Attenborough's distinguished career includes acting roles in British film classics such as Brighton Rock, In Which We Serve and A Matter of Life and Death.

Earlier this year, Michael Attenborough confirmed to the BBC his father was now living with his wife, the actress Sheila Sim, in a home for elderly people in the theatrical profession.

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