More than 50 British actors including James McAvoy, Emily Blunt and Bill Nighy have teamed up to fight a decision to shut down the UK Film Council (UKFC).

The UKFC, which was established to develop and promote British cinema, has fallen victim to massive spending cuts as the country’s new government attempts to curb spiralling debt.

But the stars credit the organisation with their career successes – and claim axing the council will destroy the “backbone” of Britain’s film industry.

A joint letter from the stars to Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reads: “We all owe any success we have had in our acting careers, to varying degrees, to films supported by the UK Film Council.

“But it is not out of personal gratitude that we are dismayed that the UKFC is facing the axe; it is because we fear the impact on the British film industry as a whole.

“It is our camera crews, lighting experts, set builders and a whole host of other skilled people who give our film industry such an edge.

“Their expertise and experience, which the UKFC has done so much to foster, is the main reason why so many top Hollywood directors choose to make films here in Britain.

“We should think long and hard about getting rid of one of the major factors behind a great British success story.”

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