Actor Hugh Grant has been honoured with a British Film Institute Fellowship for his "outstanding contribution to film".
The award-winning actor and producer, whose career has spanned more than 30 years, has been presented with the highest honour the BFI can bestow.
Grant, 55, who has won a Bafta, a Golden Globe and an Honorary Cesar and has appeared in 40 films and 21 television roles over the years, "redefined the British leading man for a generation".
Known around the world for his Englishness and charm, he is regarded as one of the world's finest comedy and character actors.
He notably starred in international hits such as Four Weddings And A Funeral to dark turns in An Awfully Big Adventure and, most recently, playing opposite Meryl Streep in the soon-to-be-released Florence Foster Jenkins.
The BFI said it was "proud to honour one of the UK's great comic actors, in recognition of the fact comedy is a serious business".
On picking up the award, which was presented to him by film producer and co-chairman of Working Title Eric Fellner at the BFI chairman's dinner hosted by Greg Dyke, Grant said: "This is such a lovely surprise and a great honour and I'm very grateful to the BFI for thinking of me."
Mr Fellner said Grant's success has helped British film as a whole "carve out a place in the world with a distinct quality that easily rivals the best to come out of Hollywood and other countries".
He added: "Hugh is one of those extraordinary British actors whose effortless performance and on-screen charm has endeared him to generations of audiences worldwide. For that contribution alone he deserves this remarkable honour from the BFI."
Mr Dyke said: "With impeccable comic timing and huge doses of his unique, ironic, self-deprecating and very British charm, Hugh always pulls off the hardest thing of all - a seemingly effortless performance. I can assure you it's not. Hugh's acting talents are prodigious and his contribution to cinema enormous.
"He is a British icon and has been making literally billions of people all over the world laugh, cry - and fall in love with him of course - for over 30 years."
Grant's breakthrough role was in the global hit Four Weddings And A Funeral, in which he secured his place as a worldwide star and was awarded with a Bafta and Golden Globe.
He went on to make a succession of hits including Notting Hill, which surpassed Four Weddings' box office success, and Love Actually in which he played the prime minister.
With his dastardly depiction of Daniel Cleaver in the two hugely successful film adaptations of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones novels, he continued to thrill audiences and win over the critics, while the dark side to his acting was demonstrated in Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks.
Since its creation in 1983, the BFI Fellowship has been awarded to key figures in British cinema including Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Sir Dirk Bogarde, Sir Alec Guinness, Dame Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier, Vanessa Redgrave, Mike Leigh, Dame Judi Dench and Helena Bonham Carter. A total of 81 Fellowships have been awarded.