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Mirren moved by Bafta Fellowship

Dame Helen Mirren said she was left almost speechless by her Bafta Fellowship, but not quite: Photo © Mirren moved by Bafta Fellowship Photo

Dame Helen Mirren has spoken of her worry that it is becoming impossible for working class actors to break into the industry.

The 69-year-old actress took the opportunity of accepting her Bafta Fellowship at the glamorous film awards ceremony to urge people to support National Youth Theatre, to help those who cannot afford drama school.

Dame Helen dedicated her award to her late drama teacher, Alys Welding, who encouraged her to try youth theatre.

The actress revealed backstage at the awards: "She meant a lot to me, she encouraged me to go into youth theatre.

"The National Youth Theatre at this moment in time is incredibly important because the way this is going it's become that only kids who have wealthy parents can go into the acting profession. It's very difficult for working class kids to get into the theatre so the National Youth Theatre is incredibly important.

"It was my way in, because I didn't have money to go to drama school."

The star of Prime Suspect and The Queen admitted she was still not quite sure how she felt about the Bafta honour, but she saw it as encouragement to keep on working.

Dame Helen said: "I don't know what it will mean for a couple of years, it will take that long for me to understand that I've got it.

"It's incredible, I'm sort of almost speechless but not quite, I did manage to make a speech. I take it as encouragement to carry on."

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