British TV Icon Cilla Black to Get BAFTA Honor

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The singer and actress is to receive the "special award" at the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards, joining previous recipients such as Simon Cowell.

LONDON -- British TV presenter, actress and singer Cilla Black will be given the special award at the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards, presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

The honor will be dished out May 18 at the awards at the Theater Royal, Drury Lane, London in recognition of an outstanding contribution to television entertainment of over 50 years.

Previous recipients include Simon Cowell, Jeremy Paxman and Clare Balding.

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BAFTA television committee chairman Andrew Newman described Black as "a true icon in the television and entertainment industry."

Said Newman: "From hosting her own show for the BBC in ‘68 to defining ITV entertainment throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Cilla has been an extremely popular and hugely influential entertainer throughout her long career in television. Last year she celebrated her half-century in show business."

Black said: "I am thrilled to be honored with this Award… I am totally delighted. I've been very fortunate to have a long and full career in television and this means the world to me."

Having begun her career in the music industry as a successful singer, Black made her television debut in 1968 with Cilla, welcoming guests from Tom Jones to Cliff Richard, and in doing so became the first woman to hold her own primetime chat show on BBC One.

Since then, Black has gone on to present some of the most popular and iconic evening entertainment shows in the U.K., including Blind Date and Surprise Surprise, helping her become one of the most watched women in British television history. Regularly drawing audiences of around 18 million, Black has hosted more than 500 television shows and made around 400 guest appearances on others.

Celebrating 50 years in television in 2013, Black is considered a national treasure by the British public and is one of the few television personalities that can be recalled by their first name alone.

The Arqiva British Academy Television Awards will be hosted by Graham Norton and broadcast on BBC One.