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David Olusoga hopes people with ‘backgrounds like mine’ have easier TV journey

Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga has been honoured with a Bafta Special Award for being a “trailblazer” in the TV industry during his three-decade career.

The 53-year-old, who presents the BBC’s acclaimed and hugely popular documentary series A House Through Time, was presented with one of the academy’s highest honours during the ceremony on Sunday.

In his moving speech, Olusoga said: “Even before I dreamed I would one day work in television, it had already changed my life.

“It was watching history documentaries as a teenager in the 80s that made me decide to study history.

“It was watching David Attenborough reveal the natural world that made me get on a plane with a backpack in my 20s and 30s.”

Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga with a Bafta Special Award at the Bafta Television Awards 2023 at the Royal Festival Hall, London
Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga with a Bafta Special Award at the Bafta Television Awards 2023 at the Royal Festival Hall, London (Jeff Moore/PA)

Olusoga credited the “astonishing industry” for broadening his horizons and enriching his life – “I owe television so much,” he said.

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The broadcaster also said having the opportunity to make programmes that have “impacted” the lives of others has been the “greatest privilege” and the “greatest responsibility” of his life.

He continued: “If I have a hope, it is that people entering the industry today, people from backgrounds like mine, minority communities, people from council estates, that they might perhaps find their journey through the industry a little easier.

“That they might not have to fight so much for the liberty of their voice and their experience.

“Our industry is changing, our industry is becoming more inclusive, I think tonight demonstrates that.

“How effective the changes we are making are in the long term will be visible by who gets to stand on this stage in years to come.”

Previous recipients of the award include sports commentator John Motson, comedian Sir Lenny Henry, TV presenter Cilla Black and actor Idris Elba.