David Attenborough recognised for contribution to broadcasting at Evening Standard Theatre Awards

National treasure dedicates his achievement to 'those behind the camera'

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The Independent Culture

Sir David Attenborough has been commended for his outstanding contribution to broadcasting at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

The popular English broadcaster and naturalist – and the only person to have won BAFTAs for programmes in black and white, colour, HD, and 3D  - was presented with the Beyond Theatre award for his captivating commentary on British wildlife programmes.

Prince William stepped onto the stage to present Sir David with the prestigious award, praising the much-loved broadcaster for his "memorable romps with gorillas" and "deep concern for the natural world".

Before announcing Sir David had won, the Duke of Cambridge told the audience: “The recipient of this award is a man who has shaped the culture of this country and the way we look at the world.

“Back in the 1950s he revolutionised the making of natural history programmes for television, beginning a long and happy association with the BBC's natural history unit.

“But he is best known as a presenter of nature documentaries and as a conservationist, whose memorable romps with gorillas go hand in hand with a deep concern for the natural world.”

Following a short film featuring clips of the broadcaster's many achievements over a lengthy career, Sir David received a standing ovation and cheers from the A-listers and theatre greats in the audience as he left his table to step onto the stage.

In his acceptance speech, Sir David dedicated the achievement to the professionals and colleagues who "wield" the cameras, saying: “In recent years it has become the fashion to do the last minutes of a wildlife show by showing how the programmes are made - and not before time.

“Because at last you can see the credit for those kind of programmes, among not the people who put their faces in front of the camera, or indeed behind it, but the people who actually wield the cameras.”

Meanwhile best musical performance went to American actress Glenn Close for her role in Sunset Boulevard, beating Sheridan's Smith's role as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl and Andy Karl in Groundhog Day.

English actress Billie Piper won the Natasha Richardson award for best actress for Yerma at the Young Vic, while Ralph Fiennes was named best actor for his performances in both The Master Builder and Richard III.

Producer Sir Kenneth Branagh meanwhile took home the Lebedev Award for his season of productions at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End.

This year's London Evening Standard Awards were hosted by the newspaper's owner Evgeny Lebedev - who also owns The Independent and television channel London Live - alongside music legend Sir Elton John.

The prizes were handed out in a ceremony presented by Welsh comedian Rob Brydon at London's Old Vic Theatre in front of a packed audience filled with famous faces including Mark Rylance, James McAvoy, Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Joan Collins.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, co-written by Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany was named best play, beating The Flick by Annie Baker at the National Theatre and Suzan-Lori Parks' Father Comes Home From The Wars at the Royal Court.

The Good Chance Theatre in Calais, which was founded by British playwrights Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, was recognised with the Editor's Award. 

Funny Girl, Groundhog Day, Guys And Dolls, Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour and Sunset Boulevard were all beaten by the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar, which recieved the Evening Standard Radio 2 Audience Award for best musical category. The show's star, Tyrone Huntley, was presented with the emerging talent award.

Hollywood star John Malkovich triumphed in winning the Milton Shulman award for best director for his production of Good Canary at the Rose Kingston, beating Tiffany for his direction of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre and Dominic Cooke for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the National Theatre.

Director Sean Mathias's production of Harold Pinter's play No Man's Land at the Wyndham's theatre, starring Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart, was named best revival.

Charlene James won the Charles Wintour award for most promising playwright for her work Cuttin' It, while the best design prize went to Gareth Fry with Pete Malkin for their sound design on The Encounter.

The London Evening Standard Awards, established in 1955 and sponsored by the London Evening Standard newspaper, are presented annually with the aim of recognising outstanding achievements in London Theatre.