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Lenny Henry

(1958-), Comedian and actor

Sir Lenworth George ('Lenny') Henry

Sitter in 14 portraits
British-born to Jamaican immigrant parents, Henry was talent-spotted on the New Faces television show when he was sixteen. His career was established with the television series Three of a Kind and cult children's programme Tiswas. In the 1980s, he spent three years as a DJ on Radio 1 and from 1984-2003 had his own series on the BBC, The Lenny Henry Show, which featured stand-up, spoofs and character sketches. As one of the early pioneers of black-centric comedy, he paved the way for many other minority-ethnic entertainers and comedy actors in the UK. Henry has toured successfully as a stand-up comedian for most of his career. He was one of the co-founders of Comic Relief in 1985. In 2009, he appeared in the title role of a stage production of Shakespeare's tragedy Othello in Leeds and London, which was followed by his National Theatre debut in The Comedy of Errors (2011) and a critically acclaimed performance in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the Donmar Warehouse, London (2017). He was knighted for services to drama and charity in 2015. Henry has also been a campaigner for improved Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) representation in broadcasting, calling for legislation to increase BAME production staff and on-screen talent to 50%. In 2018, he completed a PhD at Royal Holloway University of London, with a thesis entitled Does the Coach Have to be Black?: The Sports film, screenwriting and Diversity.

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