Idris Elba insists he’s not embarrassed to have broken onto TV by playing murderer on Crimewatch

IDRIS Elba has insisted he’s not embarrassed to have broken onto TV by playing a murderer on Crimewatch.

The 47-year-old has played a whole host of different roles on TV and the big-screen, from Luther to Nelson Mandela.

His career and commitment to championing diversity and new talent will see him receive the Special Award at tonight's BAFTA Television Awards.

However, his first acting gig had much more humble beginnings, with Idris playing a murderer in a re-enactment on popular show, Crimewatch.

Speaking to BAFTA, Idris said: "I was thankful for the job. It sounds weird but, at the time, getting a job on Crimewatch was the first rung on the ladder.

"A lot of actors don’t like to admit they did Crimewatch, but I’m not embarrassed by it.”

Idris went on to have small parts in a number of British TV shows including Casualty, before deciding to try his luck in America.

He said: "At the time, the pinnacle [in the UK] was to get on Casualty, The Bill or Silent Witness.

"I’d done all of those and I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I do want to be bigger.’

"I remember looking at actors across the pond and seeing how their careers looked, and I thought, ‘I could have a piece of that.’”

And Idris did just that, landing his breakout role as Stringer Bell in hit series The Wire before going on to star in blockbuster movies and picking up numberous Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG Award nominations along the way.

Discussing his career, Idris said the highlight was playing Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom in 2013.

He said: "Getting to play Nelson Mandela – that brings a lump to my throat. It was an honour to portray him.

"I dedicated that role to my dad. He reminded me of Mandela, with his big white hair and infectious smile.”

The British Academy Television Awards airs tonight at 7pm on BBC One.

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