London, Saturday 19 November: The British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) today announces Alison Steadman as 2016’s honouree of The Richard Harris Award. The award will be presented to her at the ceremony on Sunday 4 December at Old Billingsgate.
The award will be bestowed upon Alison Steadman in recognition of her exceptional work within the British film industry.
The Richard Harris Award was introduced in 2002 in honour of Richard Harris and recognises outstanding contribution to British film by an actor. Previous winners have been John Hurt, David Thewlis, Bob Hoskins, Jim Broadbent, Daniel Day-Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Julie Walters, Emma Thompson and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 2015.
Jared Harris, son of Richard Harris, commented: “Alison Steadman’s work in film is the embodiment of the British ideal that this award celebrates. My father, his peers and the filmmakers they collaborated with lit the torch for that ideal in the ‘60s and ‘70s. And the work that Alison did in collaboration with Mike Leigh, Michael Lindsay Hogg and the BBC carried that torch from the ‘70s and into the ‘80s. Not only has she created some of the most memorable, truthful and brilliant characters in British cinema, but Alison has also been a vital influence to countless performers who have followed her. We are delighted to be able to celebrate her outstanding contribution to British film.”
Alison Steadman began her acting career in television during a time when the British film industry was in the doldrums: the great revolution in British cinema which started in the ‘60s had begun on stage in the ‘50s and, when the film industry became moribund, it was taken up and kept alive by the BBC and others during the ‘70s. Television plays such as the BBC’s Play for Today were home to the burgeoning talents of Michael Apted, Richard Eyre and Mike Leigh, all soon to move into cinema in the ‘80s and beyond. On television and in film Alison has worked with Michael Apted, Mark Herman, Mike Figgis, Terry Gilliam and Lewis Gilbert, but her collaborations with Mike Leigh – including Nuts in May, Abigail’s Party, Life Is Sweet and Topsy Turvy – are amongst some of the most iconic performances by a British actress. She has also brought her peerless and precise skills for characterization to films as diverse as Shirley Valentine, P’Tang Yang Kipperbang, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Wilt and A Private Function. More recently, she has continued to support emerging British film talent, appearing in last year’s BIFA-nominated Burn Burn Burn as well as several shorts and debut features. BAFTA-nominated twice for iconic television roles in Fat Friends and The Singing Detective, Alison won the US National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for Life Is Sweet and the Olivier for Best Actress for her role in the original production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. She was appointed an OBE in 2000.
Nominations in the competitive categories were announced on Tuesday 1 November at The London EDITION hotel and can be seen here. The winners will be unveiled at the ceremony on Sunday 4 December.