Floella Benjamin to get Bafta Fellowship for ‘tireless support of children’

Baroness Floella Benjamin will receive the Bafta Fellowship for her “tireless support of children and young people” and “for her unwavering championing of diversity”.

The former children’s TV presenter, known for her work on Play School and Play Away in the 1970s and 1980s, has become an author, charity campaigner and peer in recent years.

On Wednesday, Bafta announced her as a recipient of the highest accolade the awards organisation can give.

Women of the Year Awards 2021
Floella Benjamin. (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Lady Benjamin said: “My heart is full of joy and happiness.

“I feel as if I’m standing on the summit of life’s mountain, looking down at the wonderful experiences I have had in my career in the television industry for over 50 years.

“It’s been an adventurous journey, with many challenges and adversities, but here I am, receiving the highest accolade Bafta can bestow. I am delighted that my work, which has predominantly been for children, is being recognised and celebrated in this way.”

Lady Benjamin was born in Trinidad before emigrating to the UK as a 10-year-old, and acting in several stage musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar and Black Mikado.

She then had a 12-year spell on Play School, aimed at pre-school children, which featured songs, stories and activities with the different presenters.

Also with a stint on the sister programme Play Away, she became one of the most recognisable children’s TV presenters in the country.

Sara Putt
Sara Putt, chairwoman of Bafta (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Sara Putt, chairwoman of Bafta, said: “We are honoured to present Baroness Benjamin the Bafta Fellowship for her tireless support of children and young people, her impact on television broadcasting, and for her unwavering championing of diversity.

“She is an unstoppable force for good with a determination to create opportunities and positive role models for future generations that has seen her effect a tremendous amount of positive change over 50 years and counting.”

Lady Benjamin has supported and campaigned for charities including Barnardo’s, Sickle Cell Society and Beating Bowel Cancer.

In 2010, she was introduced to the House of Lords and given the full title of Baroness Benjamin, of Beckenham in the County of Kent after being nominated by the Liberal Democrats.

She collected her damehood for her services to charity at Buckingham Palace in 2020.

Lady Benjamin has also chaired the Windrush Commemoration Committee and has advocated for tax relief of children’s TV in the House of Lords.

Her 1995 memoir Coming To England was adapted into an award-winning TV movie.