Stephen Fry Awarded “Presenter of the Year”
The multi-talented Mr Stephen Fry – actor, writer, presenter, etc – has been honoured with the “Presenter of the Year” Award at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards for his BBC2 documentary series examining the treatment of gay communities in countries around the world.
Fry managed to beat the likes of Sir David Attenborough, the multi-award winning face and voice of some of the most well known British natural history programmes, and Davina McCall who has presented some of the most popular television programmes in her time, such as Big Brother, and more recently The Million Pound Drop and The Jump.
In his programme, Stephen Fry: Out There, Fry travelled to countries such as India, Russia and Uganda, visiting the gay communities there to witness the kind of treatment they receive in countries where being gay is not widely accepted.
Fry suffers from bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, and is the president of the mental health charity Mind. Whilst filming Out There in 2012, the presenter suffered an attack of depression, which many attribute to the abysmal treatment of some of the gay communities he was visiting for the show.
During this attack, Fry had what he calls the “mad compulsion” to attempt suicide, he revealed in an interview last year. During the interview, he expressed what having the mood disorder means for him, and what happens when he does not have or take effective medication. “I’m the president of Mind,” he said, explaining that he felt that it was part of his role to be honest and forthcoming about the genuine nature of the mood disorder.
He added that he had been saved by his producer who found him unconscious in his hotel room after taking “a huge number of pills and a huge [amount] of vodka”. He was then brought back to England until he felt better.
And now, after pulling himself back from the edge, the great man has been given this award. “In the time we made this programme, I met some of the most horrific, evil people I’ve ever imagined could have possibly existed on the face of the Earth,” he said on accepting the honour. “I also met some of the most heroic, brave, stalwart people I have ever met.”
Paraphrasing Winston Churchill, Fry said that rather than judging a nation by “the way it treats its prisoners”, he feels that you see everything you need to about a civilisation by the way its minority communities are treated by them.
He spoke of his depression at the time of filming the documentary, and how the production team were with him every step of the way. “They saw me at my lowest and worst, and my happiest,” he said, “but we believed in what we were making.
“We thank the Royal Television Society from the bottom of our hearts.”