The Critic’s Circle Award puts forward a candidate for their award annually, the winners of which are chosen then by free vote by the Circle members. The Awards are given for each section of the Circle, viz. drama, film, music, visual art and books.
The Critic’s Circle presented Dame Maggie Smith with the 2015 award for Services to Art. The event was held at the National Liberal Club by Jeffery Taylor, the president of the Circle, and the chairman of the drama section, Mark Shenton. Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Stephen Sondheim are previous winners of the award.
Dame Maggie Smith was the epitome of grace on this day, arriving to the function by herself, without an accompanying entourage unlike most of the stars nowadays. Her acceptance speech was as simple as it was dignified:
” I feel very, very honoured. I know people say and I’ve certainly said I don’t read the critics, which a lot of actors say very airily, but believe me, you get to know what’s there. But I did learn a lesson once: I was sitting in a hotel with Frank Finlay, who was a wonderful actor, we were filming Othello, but there was a newspaper there and I read it. There was a review in there and it was absolutely lethal and truly frightening. It was for The Master Builder at the National, and I remember bursting into tears. Frank gave me a great big hug and said, ‘What you must think about is how many actresses you’ve made very happy.’ I don’t know if the critic who wrote that is here, but it was a very good lesson.”