The British Film Institute is to fete Stephen Frears with its Fellowship, the highest honor the organization can bestow.

The award will be given during the closing ceremony of the BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 18. The Fellowship is awarded to individuals in recognition of their outstanding contribution to film or television.

BFI chairman Greg Dyke said: “Throughout his extraordinary career, Stephen has produced a body of work which never fails to surprise — from sweeping costume drama to powerful social realism, his films strike a perfect balance between drama, humor and pathos helping to make them a hit with audiences and critics alike. He is one of the U.K.’s most important directors and we are delighted to honor him.”

Frears said: “I’ve spent much of my life in the cinema and quite a lot of it at BFI Southbank. I am thrilled by this Fellowship.”

Frears made his name in TV drama, working almost exclusively for the small screen in the first 15 years of his career with some of Britain’s finest writers, including David Hare, Alan Bennett, Tom Stoppard and Stephen Poliakoff.

In the mid-1980s he turned to the cinema, shooting “The Hit” (1984), starring Terence Stamp, John Hurt and Tim Roth. The following year he made “My Beautiful Laundrette” for Channel 4, which crossed over to big-screen audiences and altered the course of his career. After directing its companion piece “Sammy and Rosie Get Laid” and the Joe Orton biopic “Prick Up Your Ears,” he began working in Hollywood, with “Dangerous Liaisons” and “The Grifters,” for which he was Oscar nominated, among his most notable titles.

Returning closer to home, he directed “The Snapper” and “The Van,” two Irish films based on Roddy Doyle stories, and after a second spell of making American films (“The Hi-Lo Country,” “Accidental Hero” and “High Fidelity”) he based himself largely in Britain.

Frears showed his versatility with two vastly different movies: “Dirty Pretty Things,” a realistic account of immigrant life in London, and “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” a nostalgic backstage comedy-drama. For his 2006 film “The Queen,” he was again nominated for an Oscar. His subsequent films include “Cheri,” “Tamara Drewe” and “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight,” produced by HBO.

Frears’ most recent film, “Philomena,” starred Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. It won a BAFTA, and was nominated for three others, along with three Golden Globe, and four Oscar nominations.