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Lenny Henry biography

Lenny Henry biography

Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to be a comedian. I always play acted. I always pretended to be The Man from UNCLE or Batman or Napoleon Solo or The Man in the Suitcase. This play acting led to me doing lots of impressions at school. I did lots of silly characters …

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Lenny Henry – Credits

TV I won a TV programme called ‘New Faces’ in 1975In 1976 I was in a TV show called the ‘Fosters’77 too78 – 81 – ‘Tiswas’82: ‘Over The Top’ – the people who brought you ‘Tiswas’ – made it all adult and slightly got it wrong…81 til 83 – ‘Three of a Kind’84 – right …

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Lockdown

Our lockdown behaviour has been extraordinary. I’ve been weirdly stopping and smelling flowers wherever I am. Is that bizarre? Is that too weird? I’ve been noticing things like the fact that the dawn chorus has been really, really loud. It’s almost like they’ve brought Def Leppard’s amps and mixing desk and they’re playing it for …

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Martyn Burdon drawing of Lenny Henry

Martyn Burdon drawing

Lenny was photographed last year by Martyn Burdon for the BP Portrait awards 2020. Martyn has drawn the most amazing portrait which he has given us permission to use on the website and here is a link to the website which went live with the exhibition this week.


Lenny Henry thoughts

Thoughts on Black Lives Matter, hell yeah!

I watched Ava DuVernay’s documentary ‘13th’ last night – for the second time. I think she’s doing extraordinary work in the field of agitprop, cinematic documentary and kick ass/uplifting movies. She really is punching way, way up.  ‘13th’ is a stunning indictment of the American political system in terms of the criminalisation of black people. …

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Lenny Hewnry signing copies of his book

My book

WHO AM I, AGAIN? Hey, I wrote a book – and it’s coming out on paperback on 3 June 2021! You can pre-order it here: tinyurl.com/LennyPaperback They call it an autobiography, but it didn’t feel like that. What it actually felt like was laughing and crying like a maniac until it was all on the …

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Lenny Henry new tour dates

Live work

I don’t do stand-up as much as I used to, but when I do, I throw down like a mo-fo! I love connecting with the audience. I do quite a lot of corporate gigs. (Me in a hotel. There is a knock on the door at nine o’clock. I walk down. I go through the …

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Lenny Henry theatre

Stage work

I’m very proud of my work on stage and in the theatre. I’ve always loved playing characters. Even when I was little, I used to pretend to be Tony Curtis in The Persuaders or Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones, or Simon Templer, or The Man in a Suitcase. I loved play acting, and perhaps …

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Chancellor of Birmingham City University

Oh my God, I’m Chancellor of Birmingham City University! It’s an extraordinarily diverse campus with a real commitment to promoting the representation of ethnic minorities and women on its campus. I’m incredibly proud of the work that gets done there. And I’m really sad that at the moment we haven’t been allowed to participate in …

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Awards

2019 SOUTH BANK SHOW AWARDS Outstanding Achievement Award. That was extraordinary. I want to dedicate it to Lisa because I forgot to mention her when I said thank you to everybody else in the world. Boy, was she pissed off! I remember I ran back on stage and said, “Oh, I love you, Lisa. Thank …

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Books

I’m reading loads of books. I have just finished Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other. It’s brilliant. I’ve also read The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, and The Windrush Betrayal, which is a hugely stunning indictment of the Theresa May hostile environment campaign. I’ve read it twice. I’ve read Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, too. I’ve reread …

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Lenny Henry - Comedians

My Favourite comedians

Strangely, it doesn’t really change. Richard Pryor Number one is Richard Pryor, who was making Black Lives Matter jokes in 1973. Richard Pryor was making jokes about police brutality five decades ago, so it’s incumbent on black comics now to do the same. Many of them are, but it is still incumbent on all of …

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Photo by Rankin

Music

You probably want to know what I’m listening to. Run the Jewels At the moment, I’m listening to Run the Jewels. I was always a big fan of Legend Has It because after they used it in the promo for Black Panther, like everybody in the audience, I said, “What is that tune?” Killer Mike …

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Lenny Henry TV

TV

I watched Normal People. I did keep screaming at the screen, “Why don’t they just talk to each other after they’ve had sex?” These people never communicated. Surely after you have had all that sex, you could have a chat. But apart from that, I really did like it. Dave Chappelle’s 8:46 is genius. Big …

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Knighthood

My mum was strange. She always said you should pay attention to achievements more than honours, but the thing is, she would have loved me getting the knighthood. So the main reason I accepted the knighthood – even in the face of people saying, “don’t do it” – was because of my mum.


Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity

Lenny is spearheading a landmark new research centre aimed at examining diversity across the UK’s media. Birmingham City University opened its doors in March to the ‘Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity’, which looks at representation across the industry including journalism, acting, film, TV and radio in both front-of-house and behind the scenes roles. …

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Lenny speaks to Louis Theroux on his BBC Radio 4, Grounded podcast

Lenny spoke to documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux on his new BBC Radio 4, Grounded podcast. During the hour, the pair discuss Lenny’s autobiography ‘Who Am I, Again?’, his relationship with his mother, racism in the UK and disco ‘snog tracks’.  Listen to the podcast here: bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000jf89


‘Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle’ nominated for a BAFTA

‘Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle’, produced by Lenny’s production company Douglas Road was nominated in the ‘Short-form Programme’ category at the Bafta Television Awards 2020, which took place on 31 July.  In the programme, some of the finest British actors, writers and directors, each with a personal connection to the Windrush story, tell the story …

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TV Work

I started working in television when I was 16 years old. As stated elsewhere, I won a talent competition called New Faces. And then I was catapulted into the world of television via Britain’s first ever all-black sitcom, The Fosters, which starred Norman Beaton as well as myself and various others. This was one of …

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Lenny Henry by John Swannell

Clips

The Lenny Henry Show, 1984 I’d done a sketch show virtually every year for God knows how long. The Lenny Henry Show was my fourth sketch show. I had done The Cheapest Show on the Telly with Don McLean, I had done Six of a Kind which was a pilot, and then Three of a …

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