Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance at the BFI London Film Festival awards to present Sir Christopher Lee with a BFI Fellowship honour.

Veteran actor Sir Christopher Lee has been honoured with the BFI Fellowship at the 57th BFI London Film Festival Awards and was handed the honour by surprise guest Johnny Depp.

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The Hollywood star of Pirates of the Caribbean said it was his “great honour” to present the award to “a very great man”, saying he had been “fascinated and inspired” by him.

“He’s been a wonderful individual and over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with him and it has been a childhood dream come true,” he said, having worked with Lee on films such as Sleepy Hollow.

“But as great as it is to work with him, that pleasure doesn’t compare with getting to know him and being able to count him as a true friend.

“A national treasure and a genuine artist. I love ya.”

Lee returned the favour describing Depp, who is currently in the UK filming Rob Marshall’s fairytale musical Into The Woods alongside Meryl Streep, as “an actors dream to work with,” and “one of the very few young actors on the screen today who is truly a star.”

A tearful Lee said he was “overcome” adding that it was a “very emotional moment”.

He added: “When I take a look back, and it’s a long one, 67 years, at the characters I’ve played I get a truly strange feeling they were all played by somebody else, and not by me.

“And there are a few occasions when it has been the case I wish it had.”

The 91-year-old actor, knighted in 2009 for his services to drama and charity, has featured in more than 250 films including memorable performances in Dracula, The Wicker Man, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Man with the Golden Gun, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Star Wars prequels.

BFI chief executive Amanda Nevill said: “It is a truly illustrious moment to be honouring Sir Christopher Lee for his enormous and unique contribution to film during a festival that is committed to excellence.”