BAFTA Suspends Award for Actor Noel Clarke Amid Harassment Allegations
LONDON — The body that awards Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars has suspended a prominent actor and director weeks after he received one of its top awards, following accusations of sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying from 20 women.
Producers, actresses and production assistants said the actor, Noel Clarke, secretly filmed auditions in which they were naked, groped or forcibly kissed them, and sent unsolicited intimate pictures. The testimonies were detailed in a lengthy exposé published by The Guardian on Thursday evening.
Mr. Clarke, 45, grew up in London and established himself as an actor in the 2000s with the television series “Doctor Who.” He is well-known in Britain as a filmmaker and performer for his trilogy “The Hood,” about the lives of teenagers in West London, and for the TV police dramas “Bulletproof” and “Viewpoint.” His production company, Unstoppable Film & Television, has made more than 10 movies and television shows.
Mr. Clarke denied the all accusations through his lawyers, according to The Guardian, with the exception of an episode in which he was accused of making inappropriate comments about a woman. He said he later apologized in that case.
A spokesman for the artist management agency 42 M&P said it had stopped representing Mr. Clarke in April. Other efforts to contact Mr. Clarke and his representatives were not immediately successful.
Allegations of sexual harassment in the film industry have poured forth in recent years following revelations about Harvey Weinstein in The New York Times that touched off the #MeToo movement. Mr. Clarke is one of the first prominent actors to face such allegations in Britain.
In a statement provided to The Guardian, Mr. Clarke said, “In a 20-year career, I have put inclusivity and diversity at the forefront of my work and never had a complaint made against me.”
“If anyone who has worked with me has ever felt uncomfortable or disrespected, I sincerely apologize,” Mr. Clarke said, denying any sexual misconduct or wrongdoing, and dismissing the accusations as false.
The extent of the potential consequences for Mr. Clarke became clear on Friday when the television network ITV took the unusual step of saying in a statement that it would not air the finale of “Viewpoint,” a drama starring the actor, on its main channel Friday night because of the accusations against him.
Mr. Clarke was recently honored by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, known commonly as BAFTA, with the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema prize at its annual ceremony earlier this month, even though it was made aware of the accusations nearly two weeks before the ceremony.
BAFTA said in a statement on Friday that in the days following an announcement that Mr. Clarke would be awarded the prize, it received emails accusing him of sexual misconduct.
The allegations, the organization said, were either anonymous or second- or third-hand accounts via intermediaries, adding that it would have responded differently if the testimonies had come directly from the accusers.
“No names, times, dates, productions or other details were ever provided,” BAFTA said. “Had the victims gone on record as they have with The Guardian, the award would have been suspended immediately.”
BAFTA, which had previously honored Mr. Clarke with its rising star award in 2009, said in an earlier statement, released shortly after the article was published, that it had suspended his award and membership of the academy “immediately and until further notice.”
The Guardian report cited nearly two dozen women in the movie industry who said they had been subjected to a range of abuses that include unwanted physical contact, groping and forced kisses, as well as unsolicited sexual behavior on set, including eight on the record.
The Norwegian film producer Synne Seltveit said Mr. Clarke slapped her buttocks in 2015, and later sent an unwanted explicit sexual picture. The actress Gina Powel said Mr. Clarke exposed himself to her in a car and later groped her in an elevator, also in 2015. Anna Avramenko, an assistant film director, said Mr. Clarke had forcibly kissed her on set in 2008 and had tried several times again after the incident.
Helen Atherton, an art director on “Brotherhood,” which is part of “The Hood” trilogy, said Mr. Clarke had violated norms for the ethical filming of sex and nude scenes, including the hiring a nonprofessional actress to perform a scene in which intimate parts of her anatomy were visible.
In recent years, as TV and movie productions grapple with the implications of the #MeToo movement, “intimacy coordinators,” are becoming a common presence on set. Their job is to ensure sex scenes don’t compromise or exploit the performers, and recent British and Irish shows like “It’s a Sin” and “Normal People” have featured intimacy coordinators among their crew.
Onscreen, the plots of some recent British hits, like “Sex Education” and “I May Destroy You,” have turned on questions of sexual consent.
The British actress and writer Michaela Coel, who created “I May Destroy You,” in which she plays a young Londoner who investigates her own rape, said in a statement she supported the women who accused Mr. Clarke.
“Speaking out about these incidents takes a lot of strength because some call them ‘gray areas.’ They are, however, far from gray,” Ms. Coel said.
“These behaviors are unprofessional, violent and can destroy a person’s perception of themselves, their place in the world and their career irreparably.”
In his speech at the BAFTA Awards this month, Mr. Clarke, who is Black, dedicated his award to the “underrepresented, anyone who sits at home believing that they can achieve more.”
“This is particularly for my young Black boys and girls out there who never believed that this could happen to them,” Mr. Clarke said.
He added, “Hopefully people see that I’ve tried to elicit change in the industry.”
The British academy had been repeatedly criticized for its lack of diversity in its list of awards nominees, and last year announced a series of changes in its nomination and prize-giving process.
For this year’s awards, BAFTA’s 6,700 voting members had to undergo unconscious bias training and watch every nominated movie before they could cast their ballots for each category — an attempt to deter voters from focusing on the most hyped films.
In the statement on Friday, BAFTA said it had asked individuals to come forward with their accounts and identify themselves.
“We very much regret that women felt unable to provide us with the kind of firsthand testimony that has now appeared in The Guardian,” it said. “Had we been in receipt of this, we would never have presented the award to Noel Clarke.”