The British Academy’s long-standing annual tradition of awarding honorary gongs for lifetime achievement at the BAFTA Film Awards ceremony will not take place this year.
Following a review of the special awards process which was launched in 2021 following the Noel Clarke scandal, BAFTA said that non-competitive awards – including the BAFTA scholarship (an honor that dates back to 1971, when Alfred Hitchcock was the first recipient) and Outstanding Contribution to Film – will not be part of the 2022 film or games awards ceremonies. He does, however, plan to present them at his television awards ceremony in May.
The BAFTAs came under heavy fire last year after it presented Clarke with an outstanding contribution award at its television awards in April, despite being made aware of the sexual harassment allegations against the actor, which have revealed in a major talk in The Guardian several weeks later. At the time, BAFTA claimed the allegations it had received were not first-hand and contained few details, meaning it had “sufficient grounds” to act, but noted that he would have suspended the prize immediately if the victims had continued. save (as they did for the media). But the situation still proved a major headache for the academy, which launched a review of the processes governing these awards in May and suspended these honors.
On Monday, BAFTA said the “long, thoughtful and thorough review”, which included “extensive industry consultations”, had concluded that the awards were still a “vital means of celebrating excellence and inspiring future generations of talent through film, games and television.” However, he said he needed to implement the recommendations of the review, which he would not be able to implement before the TV awards.
Among the recommendations is the introduction of a new committee to expand “vetting and selection processes”, a committee that will effectively serve as another pair of eyes and sit above the various sector committees to help overseeing a long list of potential candidates for special awards, verifying that guidelines have been followed. The exact role of this committee – which will be made up of representatives from each relevant committee – has yet to be fully defined, with further details to come. In addition to the new committee, BAFTA also hopes to encourage its members to be more active in suggesting candidates for consideration and plans to refresh what the awards it offers “celebrate and stand for”.
Following last year’s Clarke scandal, BAFTA was keen to point out that as a film charity with limited finances, it is unable to conduct criminal investigations when it receives allegations regarding its members, and there is no sense that the new committee will do anything, like carry out police checks on potential award recipients. But after spending several weeks being dragged through various sectors of the UK media, it’s clear the organization wants to make sure a similar situation doesn’t happen again.