Rolf to receive BAFTA honour

One of the greatest names in Australian culture will be honoured at this year’s BAFTA awards. Sir Les Patterson? Kylie Minogue? Mel Gibson? Rupert Murdoch? Skippy the bush kangaroo? None of the above. Instead the Academy Fellowship will be presented to Britain’s favourite Antipodean, Rolf Harris.

On hearing of his award, Harris played a few tunes on his didgeridoo, sketched a few brush-strokes and asked "can you guess what it is yet?" before saying, "I'm hugely honoured and very thrilled."

The 81 year-old all-round entertainer is being recognised for an "outstanding and exceptional contribution to television". The BAFTA chairman Tim Corrie explained: "Rolf Harris is one of the world's most iconic entertainers. He has huge audience appeal across multiple generations."

The multi-generational appeal is the most impressive aspect of a career that has spanned more than half a century. He was originally categorised as a children’s entertainer because of his comic songs like Jake The Peg and Tie Me Kangaroo Down. He became a national treasure when he presented Rolf’s Cartoon Club and Animal Hospital.

Others, impressed by songs like Sunrise, and by Harris’s respect for Aboriginal culture long before it became fashionable to talk about "world music", esteemed his musical talents. Kate Bush used his contributions on her albums The Dreaming and Aerial.

In recent years he has found a loyal audience of students who love his old songs and eccentric cover versions of rock classics like Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. He has become a popular act at Glastonbury where he holds audiences in his thrall.

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