Idris Elba says Bafta special award is chance to give back to others

Luther star Idris Elba said he will continue to champion other actors, writers and people to tell their stories as he collected one of Bafta’s highest accolades.

Elba, 47, star of series like The Wire and In The Long Run, was presented the award virtually at this year’s Bafta Television Awards.

Due to coronavirus, this year’s ceremony, hosted by Richard Ayoade, has been filmed as live behind closed doors with nominees accepting their awards virtually.

Elba said: “I don’t believe that I am very special. I believe that I have been given an opportunity.

“What I have done is taken my opportunity and handed it backwards to other people that need that opportunity. I didn’t plan to do it, it’s just natural feeling and natural reaction.

“I feel very grounded coming from east London, where I was born and raised, and I know that in east London we try and treat people with respect because everyone comes from the same cloth.

“In the world of film and television nothing is different, in other words no-one is different, so me giving an opportunity to someone else is just part of my inheritance, part of my upbringing.

“I am hoping that from this point, everyone sees that you can’t make it without everyone else.

“That’s why I think I have got this award.

“One day I might get an acting award but until that day I am going to make more opportunities for more actors, more writers and more people to come and tell their story.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Idris Elba in character in Luther (BBC/PA)</figcaption>
Idris Elba in character in Luther (BBC/PA)

Elba has also carved out a name for himself on the big screen with roles in films like The Dark Tower, Cats and Fast And Furious spin-off Hobbs And Shaw.

Speaking via video after his win, he said it felt “amazing, really special, no pun intended”.

Asked what he will miss about the lack of an after-party this year, he said: “The thing is I can’t remember the after-parties, so probably the best thing I’m going to get is not remembering what happened last night.

“We are just going to chill out, me and the family, and watch a movie and have a drink probably.”

Discussing the future of popular BBC One TV series Luther, which sees him star as brooding detective John Luther, he said: “I’ve maintained I would like to see it come to a film and that is where I think it’s heading towards, and I’m hoping it’s going to happen soon.

“With a film the sky is the limit, you can be a little bit more bold with the storylines, maybe international, maybe up the scale, but John Luther is always going to be John Luther.”

The actor, who is married to model Sabrina Dhowre, said he would like to write and direct more, adding: “I’ve been producing for about five years.

“You plant your seeds and cultivate your land, and it comes up really slowly, I would like to win a Bafta as an actor one day.”

He also spoke about the struggles he has faced in his career, saying: “There is always hard times, I’ve definitely seen my fair share of them, definitely in the late 90s was a real struggle for me as an actor but it was that struggle that got me prepared for the next stage of my career when The Wire took off.”

Elba also spoke about his coronavirus diagnosis earlier this year, saying: “I’m definitely aware that I’ve dodged a bullet, so many people weren’t as fortunate as me and I don’t take that lightly.

“On one hand I’m celebrating but I’ve got one eye on the fact things could have turned out very differently for me, but here I am thankfully.”

Prior to the ceremony, Bafta announced he would be honoured with the award, describing him as a “fierce advocate for diversity and new talent”, noting the work of his production company Green Door Pictures.

Bafta chief executive Amanda Berry said: “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.”

Previous recipients of the Bafta special award include sports commentator John Motson, comedian Sir Lenny Henry and presenter Cilla Black.