The 12 Years A Slave star, who was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for the role last year (14), will be presented with the Richard Harris Award, named after the late Harry Potter star, in recognition of his "exceptional service" to the film industry.

Harris' son, Mad Men actor Jared, says, "I am so happy this award is going to Chiwetel. Although the recipients of this award have all been embraced by the establishment, they all came from outside it, fought their way in on the strength of their talent, claimed their place and changed the status quo. A journey which describes Chiwetel's career perfectly.

"His talent is immense, it has brought him deserved worldwide recognition, and he is in his prime! I hope this award inspires British filmmakers to take advantage of him and build films around his talent."

The prize has been given to Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Michael Gambon and Ralph Fiennes in recent years.

Ejiofor will receive the honour during the BIFAs ceremony in London on 6 December (15).