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Dame Maggie Smith receives the Critics’ Circle Award 2015 for Services to the Arts

Dame Maggie Smith receives The Critics’ Circle Award 2015 For Services to the Arts presented at the National Liberal Club, London. Photograph by Elliott Franks
Dame Maggie Smith receives The Critics’ Circle Award 2015 For Services to the Arts presented at the National Liberal Club, London. Photograph by Elliott Franks

Dame Maggie Smith was presented with the Critics’ Circle Award 2015 for Services to the Arts at a private lunch held at the National Liberal Club in London on 31st March 2016, receiving an engraved crystal rose bowl. The event was hosted by Jeffery Taylor, president of the Critics’ Circle and Mark Shenton, chairman of the Drama section of the Critics’ Circle.

In her acceptance speech, Dame Maggie commented, “I feel very, very honoured. I know people say and I’ve certainly said I don’t read the critics, which a lot of actors say very airily, but believe me, you get to know what’s there. But I did learn a lesson once – I was sitting in a hotel with Frank Finlay who was a wonderful actor, we were filming Othello, but there was a newspaper there and I read it; there was a review in there and it was absolutely lethal and truly frightening. It was for The Master Builder at the National, and I remember bursting into tears. Frank gave me a great big hug and said, ‘what you must think about is how many actresses you’ve made very happy. I don’t know if the critic who wrote that is here, but it was a very good lesson.

1) The Critics’ Circle has presented this award annually since 1988. Each section of the Critics Circle – drama, film, music, visual art and books – proposes a candidate, and then the entire membership of the circle is given a free vote on who should win from the shortlist. Members are not required to vote for the candidate that their section has proposed, so the ultimate winner is chosen by consensus of the full circle.

2) Previous recipients are as follows:
1988 Sir Peter Hall
1989 Dame Ninette de Valois
1990 Sir Michael Tippett
1991 Sir David Lean
1992 Sir John Mills
1993 Sir Peter Ustinov
1994 John Drummond
1995 Sir Peter Wright
1996 Richard Eyre
1997 Dame Judi Dench
1998 Sir Edward Downes
1999 Harold Pinter
2000 Dame Alicia Markova
2001 Paul Scofield
2002 Sir Alfred Brendel
2003 Sir Ian McKellen
2004 Mike Leigh
2005 Alan Bennett
2006 Dame Helen Mirren
2007 Sir Tom Stoppard
2008 Peter Brook
2009 Sir Alan Ayckbourn
2010 Ken Loach
2011 Stephen Sondheim
2012: Centenary Awards to mark the 100th anniversary of the Critics’ Circle: each section awarded one: Sir Nicholas Serota, Sir Peter Wright, Sir Colin Davis, Max Stafford-Clark, Danny Boyle
2013: Grayson Perry
2014: Sir Nicholas Hytner

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  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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