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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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Lenny Henry, by Simon Frederick - NPG P2070

Lenny Henry

by Simon Frederick
archival inkjet print, 2016
NPG P2070

Lenny Henry, by Morag Caister - NPG 7134

Lenny Henry

by Morag Caister
oil and pastel on paper, 2022
On display in Room 33 on Floor 0 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG 7134

Lenny Henry, by Trevor Leighton - NPG x27342

Lenny Henry

by Trevor Leighton
bromide print, 18 May 1983
NPG x27342

Lenny Henry, by Trevor Leighton - NPG x76315

Lenny Henry

by Trevor Leighton
bromide fibre print, 1984
NPG x76315

Lenny Henry, by Trevor Leighton - NPG x29707

Lenny Henry

by Trevor Leighton
bromide fibre print, 1985
NPG x29707

Lenny Henry, by Koo Stark - NPG x27337

Lenny Henry

by Koo Stark
bromide print, 1985
NPG x27337

Lenny Henry, by Pogus Caesar - NPG x200722

Lenny Henry

by Pogus Caesar
digital gelatin silver print, 1987
NPG x200722

Lenny Henry; Frank Bruno, by Trevor Leighton - NPG x35346

Lenny Henry; Frank Bruno

by Trevor Leighton
bromide fibre print, 24 November 1987
NPG x35346

Lenny Henry, by Trevor Leighton - NPG x32735

Lenny Henry

by Trevor Leighton
bromide print, 27 February 1989
NPG x32735

Lenny Henry, by Trevor Leighton - NPG x35303

Lenny Henry

by Trevor Leighton
bromide print, 20 March 1990
NPG x35303

Lenny Henry, by Trevor Leighton - NPG x45061

Lenny Henry

by Trevor Leighton
bromide fibre print, 28 July 1993
NPG x45061

Lenny Henry, by Donald MacLellan - NPG x88744

Lenny Henry

by Donald MacLellan
toned bromide print, 5 September 1996
NPG x88744

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