Lenny Henry (Author of Lenny Henrys Well-Hard Paperback)Lenworth George Lenny Henry, CBE is an English actor, writer, comedian and occasional television presenter. Henry is known as the choleric chef Gareth Blackstock from the 1990s television comedy series Chef!, or from his 1999 straight-acting lead role in the BBC drama Hope And Glory. He was co-creator with Neil Gaiman and producer of the 1996 BBC drama serial Neverwhere.
His earliest television appearance was on the New Faces talent show, which he won in 1975 with an impersonation of Stevie Wonder. The following year he appeared with Norman Beaton in LWTs sitcom The Fosters, Britains first comedy series with predominantly black performers. His formative years were spent in working mens clubs, where his act was as a young black man impersonating white characters such as the Some Mothers Do Ave Em character Frank Spencer (whom he impersonated on New Faces). He also made guest appearances on television programmes including Celebrity Squares, Seaside Special and The Ronnie Corbett Show.
He co-hosted the childrens programme Tiswas from 1978 until 1981, and subsequently performed and wrote for the show Three of a Kind, with comedians Tracey Ullman and David Copperfield. Also in 1980, he teamed up with The Comic Strip where he met his wife, comedienne Dawn French. She encouraged him to move over to the fledgling alternative comedy scene, where he established a career as a stand-up comedy performer and character comedian. He introduced characters who both mocked and celebrated black British culture, such as Theophilus P. Wildebeeste (a homage to Teddy Pendergrass using the TP initials), Brixton pirate radio disc jockey DJ Delbert Wilkins and Trevor MacDoughnut (a parody of Trevor McDonald). His stand-up material, which sold well on LP, owed much to the writing abilities of Kim Fuller.
The first series of The Lenny Henry Show appeared on the BBC in 1984. The show featured stand up, spoofs like his send up of Michael Jacksons Thriller video, and many of the characters he had developed during Summer Season, including Theophilus P. Wildebeeste and Delbert Wilkins. The Lenny Henry Show ran for a further 20 years in various incarnations.
In the early 1990s, Henry starred in the Hollywood film True Identity, in which his character pretended to be a white person (using make-up, prostheses, and a wig) in order to avoid the mob. The film was not commercially successful.
In 1991, he starred in a BBC drama alongside Robbie Coltrane called Alive and Kicking, in which he played a heroin addict, which was based on a true story.
In 2003, Henry was listed in The Observer as one of the fifty funniest acts in British comedy. In 2004, he was listed in The Sunday Times as the fifteenth funniest black performer of all time. Henry is associated with the British Comic Relief charity organisation, along with his former wife, comedienne Dawn French, and Griff Rhys Jones, and has hosted the show and also presented filmed reports from overseas on the work of the charity.
He was the voice of the shrunken head on the Knight Bus in the 2004 movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and read the audio book version of Neil Gaimans Anansi Boys.
He was introduced to Shakespeare when he made the 2006 Radio 4 series Lenny and Will. Which saw him going in search of the magic of Shakespeare in performance. In February 2009 Henry appeared in the Northern Broadsides production of Othello. He received widespread critical acclaim in the role.
Henry graduated in English Literature, (BA Hons), with the Open University in 2007. Henry studied for an MA at Royal Holloway, University of London in screenwriting for television and film, where he received a distinction and where he is now studying for a PhD on the role of black people in the media. Henry was made a CBE in the New Years Honours list in 1998 for his services to comedy drama and Comic Relief.
Alive And Kicking (BBC 1991 with Lenny Henry and Robbie Coltrane)
To celebrate his 60th birthday, Radio Times asked Sir Lenny to talk us through some golden moments from his life in TV comedy career. The TV legend talks us through his top picks to mark his 60th birthday…. I loved it. I learned so much. Three of a Kind was a brilliant experience. That and nearly killing the wrestler Big Daddy with a pyrotechnic special effect.
Smudger is a ruthless Birmingham drug dealer, convinced he is untouchable and reigning his patch with no mercy. Married to Maz, their lives begin to change when they have their first child, Josh, and find he is born a heroin addict. Despite her best intentions, it's not long before the child is taken into care. Meanwhile, a former Scottish gangster turned drug counsellor, Liam, has begun work in the area, with a no-nonsense approach to his craft that is very much inspired by his previous career. Desperate to be reunited with her son, Maz crosses his path and is accepted on a residential clean-up programme, leaving Smudge both alone and effervescent with rage.
At a Glance …. Henry began his career as a stand-up comedian 20 years ago, as a teenager living in the industrial West Midlands region of England. He went on to distinguish himself as a comic actor, particularly well known for his range of humorous characters. In recent years Henry has moved into more serious acting roles, as well as narrating documentaries and launching his own television production company. Henry seems to be succeeding, however. His mother, Winifred, had come to England from Jamaica in the early s, at a time when the British government encouraged immigration as a source of cheap labor. Winifred worked as a cook until she had enough money to send for her husband and family; Lenny was their first child to be born in Britain.
The Lenny Henry Sunday Hoot!, 1983
Wildebeeste and the Guinness supping Grandpa Deakus. Lenny and his various characters appeal across all classes, creeds and age groups. Lenny was born in in Dudley, West Midlands. His first television exposure was as a comic on New Faces. It was then that I began to develop my work — I did Three of a Kind straight afterwards and started looking at what other comedians were doing.
Naming him one of the 50 funniest people in Britain in , the Observer newspaper described Lenny Henry as "a comic genius with a highly effective social conscience. Henry became famous for his gentle and affectionate mockery of the Jamaican community in which he grew up, but he has also been a savage critic of jokes that exploit minority groups out of bigotry or ignorance. He had a brief and unsuccessful flirtation with Hollywood in the s, but has since returned to the "character comedy" for which he is best known. In he was awarded a CBE meaning Commander of the British Empire, an honor bestowed by the royalty of England , in part for his years of campaign work with the charity Comic Relief. His family was from Jamaica and moved to Birmingham in the s. Tewson School, and Preston College, but in , aged just 17, his show business career took off when he was a repeat winner on the weekly TV talent show, New Faces. His act consisted of impersonating white TV celebrities, and for the next few years he performed in pubs and local clubs around Britain.
Sign in. No host? No problem. Watch funny moments, inspiring speeches, and more highlights from the Emmy Awards. Watch now. Title: Alive and Kicking 13 Oct Stevie "Smudger" Smith and his wife Marie are both addicted to drugs; he's also a dealer.