The ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ star was given the top honour during the prestigious ceremony for her long-standing contribution to the television industry.
As she was presented with the gong by her ‘Ab Fab’ co-star Jennifer Saunders, Joanna made sure the spotlight was on all the people who help actors with their performances, as she also delighted fans by assuming her Patsy Stone voice.
“I’d sorted out the most fantastic speech which started off saying how unbelievably honoured I am to accept this Fellowship from the Academy. It honestly isn’t something you even dream of,” she said.
“I realise everything I am, I’m like a piece of cellophane laid over the industry. I have done nothing.
“We as actors, we are dragged about in golden carriages, which are laid on tracks over swamps at midnight by men in their underpants. We are lit and furnished with words, costumed and made up. We have stunt performers to make us look better. We have people who drive us, dress us. We have people you feed us - caterers are so important. We have all this, and we arrive and sometimes people say, ‘you were so funny in that’, and you say, ‘yes, thanks’. It’s all somebody else, and I’m here to say that this here, for me, is paradise.
“I wanted to be with people who left race and religion and age and gender and shoe size and things outside the door when they came. People who are in our profession don’t have those discriminations.”
She continued: “I wanted to be in this great circus, in this Fellowship, and now I’m standing here with my gorgeous family, my beloved friends and I couldn’t be happier. Alll I really want to say is - Jennifer, you write it, I just do it.”
Adopting the persona of her ‘Ab Fab’ character, Joanna added: “I just wanna say actually to you all, ya know.... Cheers, sweeties. Thanks a lot.”
Elsewhere during the evening, there were awards for ‘Happy Valley’, ‘Planet Earth II’ and ‘Damilola, Our Loved Boy’, while Netflix series ‘The Crown’ went home empty handed, despite having the most nominations.
Host Sue Perkins also couldn’t resist a cheeky quip about her departure from ‘The Great British Bake Off’, making the audience roar during her opening monologue.