Legendary director Sir Ridley Scott praises his old college as he is awarded Bafta fellowship

Sir Ridley Scott and wife Giannina Facio attending the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, Kensington, London. Picture by Press Association.
Sir Ridley Scott and wife Giannina Facio attending the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, Kensington, London. Picture by Press Association.

North East director Sir Ridley Scott has praised the former college he attended on being handed a Bafta fellowship award.

The fellowship – which is awarded annually – is the highest accolade bestowed by Bafta on an individual.

It recognises an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, games or television, with previous recipients including Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery and Elizabeth Taylor.

Sir Ridley, who is now 80, was born in South Shields and took the first steps in his 40-year film-making career when he was educated at West Hartlepool College of Art, now Cleveland College of Art and Design, which has its Hartlepool campus in Church Street in the town.

In 1995, both Sir Ridley and his brother Tony received a Bafta for Outstanding British Contribution To Cinema.

After being awarded the Fellowship by HRH Prince William, Sir Ridley told in his speech on how after leaving school he managed to get a place at West Hartlepool College of Art despite having just one GCE.

Pat Chapman, Vice Principal (Employability and External Relations) at Cleveland College of Art and Design.

Pat Chapman, Vice Principal (Employability and External Relations) at Cleveland College of Art and Design.

"The college was a revelation," said Sir Ridley.

"It's weirdly dressed students expressing an individualism, passionate teachers who were genuinely interested in students, not just tolerating them, but actually engaging with them.

"It is extraordinary what an enthusiastic teacher can do, drawing the student out, igniting independence, encouraging the design of your own future."

Sir Ridley added: "Teaching is the most important of all professions.

A shot from Ridley Scott's 1965 Boy & Bicycle film in Lynn Street, West Hartlepool.

A shot from Ridley Scott's 1965 Boy & Bicycle film in Lynn Street, West Hartlepool.

"Sort that out, and social problems will get sorted out."

Sir Ridley has been at the helm of more than 25 feature films, including Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, American Gangster and Prometheus.

Across his career, he has garnered five Bafta nominations and three Oscar nominations.

Amanda Berry OBE, chief executive of Bafta, said: “Ridley Scott is a visionary director, one of the great British filmmakers whose work has made an indelible mark on the history of cinema.

“His passion and unrelenting pursuit of excellence have provided cinema goers with a tantalising range of films, including Alien, Gladiator, Thelma and Louise and Blade Runner.”

Education chiefs at Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) have congratulated Sir Ridley on the achievement.

Pat Chapman, Vice Principal (Employability and External Relations) at CCAD, said: "We would like to congratulate Sir Ridley Scott on receiving the BAFTA Fellowship Award and CCAD is delighted that he spoke so glowingly of his time at the College.

"Our relationship with him is still strong – last summer he flew over some of his own original story board art to be shown in our biennial Festival of Illustration.

"As the only independent art college in the north, we are continuing to provide the inspiration and revelation that Ridley spoke of.

"CCAD was commended by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education for the way we enhance our students’ experience, we were awarded Gold in the government's Teaching Excellence Framework and we have a 91 percent student satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey.

"Significantly, as a specialist in the creative industries, we work with partners from film and TV on a regular basis to give our students real world valuable experience.

"We have just invested £11million in new teaching facilities, a theatre and film and TV studios, and we now offer eight degrees in the field of stage and screen where students can collaborate as they learn – just as they will work collaboratively in industry."

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “I was delighted that Sir Ridley Scott chose to pay tribute to Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) in his speech at the BAFTAs.

“CCAD is a fantastic place with inspirational and talented staff and students, and as a town we are proud to be home to such a high-quality educational institution.

“The council enjoys a very positive working relationship with CCAD - as shown by the recent opening of the college’s new multi-million pound campus in Hartlepool – and we aim to develop that relationship over coming years to help us realise our ambitious regeneration plans for the town.”