Lester said:"When my career was just beginning, the elegant TV critic Bernard Levin came to see me in rehearsal with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers. He wrote: 'he seems an amiable young man who climbed into a lion's cage and realised he's forgotten his chair and his whip.'"
"Some 50 years later, I still haven't found a whip, but with this extraordinary honour, the BFI has kindly given me a chair."
Greg Dyke said:"Richard Lester has created a unique body of work which has enriched the lives of millions with his brilliantly surreal humour and innovative style. Although born in America he has lived in Britain for 60 years and created some of the most enduring and influential creations of British cinema."
The BFI Fellowship is awarded by the BFI Board of Governors and it is presented for outstanding achievement in film and television. Previous recipients include Ralph Fiennes, David Cronenberg, Dame Judi Dench, Isabelle Huppert and Martin Scorsese. The full list is a roll call of the leading lights of the world of film and television.