Colin Firth has won a best actor Bafta for his portrayal of a gay professor in A Single Man.

The actor scored his first Bafta win last night for his performance in fashion designer Tom Ford’s directorial debut.

When accepting the award, he revealed he nearly turned the role down.

He said: “What Tom Ford doesn’t know is I have the email in my outbox telling him I could not possibly do this.

“I was about to send this when a man came to repair my fridge… I don’t know what’s best for me so I would like to thank the fridge guy.”

Firth also paid tribute to Ford, whose debut has been met with excellent reviews.

“I have worked with a lot of great directors and he’s up there with the best of them,” he said.

A Single Man is based on Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel. In the film, Firth’s character struggles with loneliness after his partner dies.

Ford has rejected suggestions his film is a “gay story”, saying: “It just seems to me a human story.”

Firth has been nominated for an Oscar for the role, which is also his first nomination.

Other winners at last night’s ceremony were British star Carey Mulligan, for her role in An Education, and Kathryn Bigelow’s war film The Hurt Locker.

The film won six awards, with Bigelow becoming the first woman to take the best director prize.

She was up against her ex-husband James Cameron, whose film Avatar won only two minor awards.