Every year, The Enrico Caironi Lifetime recognition Award, named after the co-founder of the Knight of Illumination awards (KOI), is presented to an individual to honour their outstanding achievements within the lighting industry. This year’s recipient was long-serving follow spot operator, Linford Hudson, known as Mr Follow Spot.
Linford moved to England from Jamaica in 1962 to be with his mother after a family break-up. His mother introduced him to the Palladium at the age of 15, and just two months after arriving in London he got a job as a uniformed page boy after seeing an advert in The Evening Standard. Quickly outgrowing his role and becoming fixated on the bright lights and dancing girls, he set his sights on joining the lighting team. Sadly, this was when Linford experienced his first encounter with racial discrimination in the theatre, from a senior member of the lighting team. However, he persevered, remaining determined to land his dream job in lighting. Another member of the lighting team, Peter King, took Linford under his wing and began training him.
As TV lighting director Bernie Davis, who presented Linford with his KOI Award, says, “Linford joined the follow spot crew where, it’s fair to say, he not only learnt his craft, he developed it to an art-form of the highest standard.”
He lit his first show, Swing Along starring Tony Hancock, in 1963. This was the beginning of a long and illustrious career. He became so well established that he was soon doing the job of two operators.
In more than 50 years of dedication at the London Palladium, Mr Follow Spot shone on legends such as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and Bette Midler. He also helped to light the funeral of Princess Diana at Westminster Abbey in 1997, and lent his skills to the London Olympics Ceremonies in 2012. In 2019, he was presented with an Olivier Award by Andrew Lloyd Webber for ‘Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre’.