Idris Elba to receive special Bafta TV award

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Idris ElbaImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Elba was raised in east London and attended the National Youth Music Theatre

Actor Idris Elba will receive one of Bafta's highest honours later this month - the Bafta special award for television.

The London-born star is being recognised for both his craft and for championing diversity and new talent.

The star of Luther and The Wire will receive the accolade at the virtual Bafta TV awards ceremony on 31 July.

Elba said it was "a great privilege" and that it was his "mission" to give opportunities to emerging talent.

Previous recipients of the special television award include Clare Balding, Cilla Black, Sir Lenny Henry and commentator John Motson.

"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," said Elba.

"I thank Bafta for recognising 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."

Image caption,
Sir Lenny Henry, with whom Elba appeared in a 2016 Sport Relief sketch, received his own special Bafta that same year

Elba rose to prominence as Stringer Bell in The Wire and gained acclaim for playing the title role in BBC crime drama Luther.

He founded production company Green Door Pictures in 2013 with a focus on inclusion and discovering new film-making talent.

The son of African immigrants, Elba was raised in east London. With a grant from the Prince's Trust he was able to take up a place at the National Youth Music Theatre.

Last year he returned as Luther on BBC One, while In the Long Run, the semi-autobiographical series he created and stars in, begins its third season on Sky this Thursday.

Amanda Berry, chief executive of Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), called Elba "one of Britain's best known actors in the UK and internationally".

"He is also a driving force for championing diversity, ensuring talented people from all backgrounds achieve their potential," she added. "We're delighted to recognise Idris, and his outstanding work, at this year's ceremony."

Sky drama Chernobyl is up for four awards at the TV Baftas, which will be presented virtually by host Richard Ayoade on BBC One on 31 July at 1900 BST.

The drama, about the nuclear disaster that occurred there in 1986, received seven prizes at last week's Bafta TV Craft Awards, which honour technical achievement.

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