Five star review for BBC Four's 'Black Classical Music: The Forgotten History'

Black Classical Music: The Forgotten History, hosted by Lenny and produced by Douglas Road Productions has been given a five star review by The Guardian. From Chevalier De Saint-Georges to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, black classical musicians and composers have been largely written out of the canon. This fascinating one-off asks why.

The full review can be read here: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2020/sep/27/black-classical-music-the-forgotten-history-review-challenging-orchestrated-racism

Black Classical Music: The Forgotten History is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer: whttps://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000n18w

Lenny chats to The Voice

Ahead of the airing of The Lenny Henry Show, his first ever radio sketch show on BBC Radio 4, Lenny talks to The Voice’s Alannah Francis about returning to radio, why he won’t let the Windrush scandal be forgotten and providing opportunities for new black talent.

David Olusoga’s Edinburgh TV Festival James MacTaggart Lecture

David Olusoga delivered a powerful James MacTaggart Lecture yesterday at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

Lenny says: “David encapsulated the hopes dreams and fears of everyone who feels excluded from the UK’s film and TV industries in one speech. We are lucky to have him.”

Watch it here: https://youtu.be/XALf10024r8

Brand New 'The Lenny Henry Show' for BBC Radio 4

Lenny is bringing The Lenny Henry Show to BBC Radio 4, in what will be his first ever radio sketch show and first sketch show in over ten years! The first episode of the run will air on Tuesday 25th August at 6.30pm.


In this brand new character based sketch show, Lenny will be reprising some of his popular old characters like Delbert Wilkins and Deakus, as well as debuting exciting new ones such as: Gavin Stone - the former special services operative turned supply teacher, Raheim X Davies - the irascible History of Art professor and Gideon de Witt - the politician who cannot meaningfully answer a question. 

The Lenny Henry Show stars Lenny Henry, Vas Blackwood, Llewella Gideon, Freya parker, George Fouracres and Cherrelle Skeete.


Written by Lenny Henry and Max Davis, with Nathan Bryon, Tasha Dhanraj, Kim Fuller, Athena Kugblenu, Nathan Robert and Ben Partridge. 

You can listen here: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000m13z

Episode 1 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000m13y

Character-based sketch comedy from Lenny Henry, featuring old favourites like Deakus (musing about Covid from his care home) and Brixton-based DJ Delbert Wilkins, who's with his mate Winston talking about homeschooling.

There's also new characters such as Mr Stone, the former Special Forces operative-turned-teacher, and paranoid Aaron, who sees crime everywhere. And there's an outtake from the Repair Shop, an appeal by parents who have been cancelled by their kids, and a debut from Northern grime artist The Yorkshire Moor, rapping about lockdown.

Episode 2 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000m5mn

Another helping of character-based sketch comedy from Lenny Henry - including Gideon de Witt, the politician who can never answer a question straight, Mr Stone the former Special Forces operative-turned-teacher, and paranoid Aaron who sees crime everywhere.

There's also the trailer for a gritty new Netflix movie that's heaven sent and more from Deakus discussing British-ness, while Delbert and Winston talk racist statues, and there's another song from Northern grime artist The Yorkshire Moor, this time celebrating all things Northern.

Episode 3 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000mcz7

Another helping of character-based sketch comedy from Lenny Henry, including more from Delbert and Winston who discuss getting out into the countryside after lockdown.

We also hear from Cecilia and Barrington, two elderly Jamaican friends, and about a new TV show Britain's Next Great Occultist. There's more adventures from Gavin Stone, the Special Forces soldier-turned-teacher, and we meet Paul and Madison, who run Brixton's best black studies book shop - if only it wasn't so close to Waterstone's.

Episode 4 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000mj2l

There's more from Paul's Brixton Bibliotheque, Batman learns how to be woke, Deakus talks about his kids and how he met Claudette, and we go into space to meet new character Tyrone who's just trying not to be the black guy who gets killed first on every time.

Also, there's highlights from music podcast Vinyl's Great No Matter What My Ex-Wife Says, which features an interview with famous blues musician Charlie Johnson III, and the first instalment from outrageous Jamaican gameshow Box Mi Down, where contestants have to answer questions correctly or else get, well, boxed down.

Episode 5 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000mt1g

Another helping of character-based sketch comedy from Lenny Henry, this time including more from outrageous Jamaican gameshow Box Mi Down, hosted by the great Glenroy Livingstone.

We're back in space to see if Tyrone can stop himself getting killed again. Delbert and Winston are back on the Brixton Broadcasting Co-operative to discuss celebrities they nearly met and there's more from bookseller Paul's Brixton Bibliotheque. Also, we drop in on Raheim X Davies's art history audioguide.

Episode 6 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000mzp4

Another dose of character-based sketch comedy from Lenny Henry, including more from Paul and his Brixton-based black studies bookshop.

Tyrone is still in Space desperately trying not to get killed, Glenroy Livingstone has more outrageous antics from his Jamaican game show Box Mi Down, and we meet new character Nick, a bouncer who can't get used to letting anyone in.

Also, Theophilus P Wildebeeste is back from retirement - but this time the P stands for "progressive".

Raheim X Davies

Black Comet

The Repair Shop

Lenny speaks to Twiggy on her podcast 'Tea with Twiggy'

Lenny spoke to model, actress and singer Twiggy on her podcast 'Tea With Twiggy'.

Listen to the podcast here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/tea-with-twiggy/id1510971880

‘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 of the Afro-Caribbean community in modern-day Britain through a series of monologues.

Lenny said: “Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle is a wonderful entry point for anyone who wishes to take the psychic temperature of a diaspora generation. I’m proud to be associated with this project and I hope you enjoy it. We tell these stories because they are a gateway to understanding for our children.”

Link: bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-52917661 

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

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.

Lenny said: “This has been a long time under wraps but at last we’re out. I’m so chuffed to be a part of Birmingham City University’s efforts to facilitate diversity research.”

The Centre is the brainchild of leading champions of diversity Sir Lenny Henry, Chancellor of Birmingham City University, Marcus Ryder, a multi-award winning journalist synonymous with the ongoing debate about diversity in the media, Diane Kemp, Professor of Broadcast Journalism at Birmingham City University and Marverine Duffy, BA Journalism Course Leader at Birmingham City University.

Lenny and Marcus Ryder were also awarded Visiting Professorships at the University, which will see them use their experience and expertise to work alongside researchers and academics, and give specialist lectures on the subject. 

Link: bcu.ac.uk/media/research/sir-lenny-henry-centre-for-media-diversity 

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 graduation ceremonies. Look forward to coming back soon.

And I'm hungry to make (and probably will) a commencement speech of my very own to blow your minds and make you miss tottering across the stage on unfeasibly high heels and far too much makeup. I look forward to seeing you guys soon. Keep going and carry on. If you drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot of biscuits, you will get there.

Also, brilliant news. We've started the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Diversity Research. A newly established independent research centre, bringing together the expertise of established media professionals and academics, it is doing fantastic work to achieve accurate representation of all sections of society across contemporary UK media. We aim to hold the media industry accountable for diversity and inclusion. This work is absolutely vital.

Even now we are putting together the criteria for a manifesto and a journal for peer-reviewed articles and journalism to assist in the quest for a level playing field in the world of broadcast media. The steering committee is Marcus Ryder, Professor Diane Kemp, Marverine Duffy, myself, and many more. We are a solution-based group. But we were also inviting people to write material for us to go in the journal and also on our website. We are really committed to this.

You can find out more about our exciting work at https://www.bcu.ac.uk/media/research/sir-lenny-henry-centre-for-media-diversity

Martyn Burdon drawing

Martyn Burdon drawing of Lenny Henry

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.  
https://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/bp-portrait-award-2020/exhibition/exhibitors/

Martyn said: "My original idea was to possibly depict Lenny Henry in character as ‘Elmore’ from the August Willson play ‘King Hedley II’, but this ultimately wasn’t pursued. Lenny proved to be a very captivating presence simply as himself.

"It seemed right to portray Lenny in quite a simple straightforward way, I wanted to try and capture some of his gravity and vigour. He’s very well mannered and gentle person, but also a quite physically imposing figure (he is very tall!), and I wanted to try and convey something of that strength.

"I think the direct gaze in the picture is quite poised and compelling, as you look at the painting, I think it feels as if you are maybe held in moment.

"I always like to use natural daylight during a sitting, I think it roots a portrait in a particular moment, and there was a particularly beautiful pearlescent light on the day of the first sitting. I like to try and capture a fleeting moment, and work in a detailed but delicate and painterly way

"Lenny was very pleasant company during the sitting, he gave me a fascinating insight into some of his recent work in the theatre, and it was very interesting to hear about the writing process behind his memoir.

"He also performed a Shakespearean soliloquy, and did a marvellous impression of Don Worrington to keep me entertained!

"I was born in the early 1980’s, so Lenny Henry as been a part of popular culture throughout my life, it was a great pleasure to try and capture a side of him."