We have long known that the remarkable sir lenny henry it’s a national treasure, and now it’s official. The veteran comedian and actor won the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards on October 13, in honor of his 50-year career. This coveted award is the only gong in the NTA that is not voted on by the public, and previous winners include Sir David Attenborough, stephen fryY David Tennant.
Henry has recently dominated our screens with his portrayal of Zadok, a Harfoot, in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The actor has made a huge impact on film and television, and on stage, over the years, with incredible performances in The Sandman, doctor who, wide church, Othello.
From his sketch comedy endeavors to his philanthropy, the 64-year-old has an impressive list of accomplishments under his belt. We take a look at some of Sir Lenny Henry’s groundbreaking moments, below.
Making a name for himself
Henry’s career began at the age of 16, when he appeared on the television show new faces talent show in 1975. He ended up winning the show with perfect impersonations of stevie wonder, Frank Spencer, and more. The actor honed his comedic skills on stage at his school and in working-class clubs, where he portrayed mostly white characters like Fred Flintstone, John Wayne and Elvis.
Paving the way for black talent
Henry was arguably the most prominent black British comedian of the 1970s and 1980s, during a time when Black representation in entertainment and media. it was sorely lacking. Over the years, he has continually used his platform to celebrate his heritage and lift others up.
starred The Fostersthe first UK comedy series with a predominantly black cast, with Norman Beaton in 1976. When writing his series of sketches three of a kind in the early 1980s, Henry, recalling his experience in The minstrel show in black and white — insisted that his career not become the punchline for jokes. “He wanted the attitude towards black artists to change.. It was time that we were maker of the joke, not just of the taker,” he said.
In the early 1990s, Henry also worked on the comedy television series. Cook!, playing domineering chef Gareth Blackstock. This was a project he was very proud of, he said. radio schedulesbecause “it was a real attempt to have a diverse production on screen and beyond [with] a dark-haired cinematographer, a black soundman, a Turkish cast member, and a pretty diverse mix of staff.”
Immerse yourself in shows for children
Evidence of Henry’s widespread appeal also lies in his success within children’s entertainment. He co-hosted the 1970s children’s television series. Tiswas (an acronym for Today Is Saturday: Watch And Smile) from seasons 5 to 7. His most famous segments on the show include impersonating David Bellamy in a gardening parody segment called “Compost Corner” and skits featuring his recurring character Trevor McDoughnut, who was based on newsreader Trevor McDonald.
His work with The Comic Strip Collective
In the early 1980s, Henry was on the move again and branched out into alternative comedy, joining the British comedy collective The Comic Strip, whose core members include Adrian Edmondson, dawn in French, Rik MayallNigel Planer, and Jennifer Saunders.
During this time, he created comedic characters that mocked and celebrated British Afro-Caribbean culture, such as Brixton-based pirate radio DJ Delbert Wilkins. With the encouragement of his then-partner French (the two were married for 26 years and have a son together), Henry fully established himself as a comedian in the entertainment circle.
Find conventional success with three of a kind
What really cemented Henry’s presence in the mainstream media was his appearance on the BBC’s comedy show. three of a kind, which aired from ’81 to ’83. Henry wrote and acted for the show, proving to be an integral part of every aspect of the series. The fast and wisecracking show was full of jokes and he also co-starred Tracey Ulman and David Copperfield.
Make sounds on radio waves
Between ’82 and ’85, Henry worked for Radio 1 as a DJ, initially replacing noel edmondsbefore moving on to the front of his own program, Sunday’s whistle. Unleashing his creativity, he introduced various characters such as Elfreda the Tea Lady and the 21st century private eye Gronk Zillman. “The idea of playing the music that he loved and mixing that with all my comedy nonsense was irresistible. I loved it”, shared the interpreter.
As well as being a DJ, Henry has also written radio plays. His personal favorite is still his first work, Corrinne comes back and she’s goneproduced with Radio 4. The plot follows Corrinne, who leaves an abusive relationship, and her children, in Jamaica to live in the UK, but returns 20 years later to confront her daughters.
Leading your own show
You know you’ve made it when you have your own TV show and it’s named after you. The Lenny Henry Show it aired from 1984 to 1988 as a sketch comedy and then returned as a sitcom incarnation from 1987 to 1988. It featured monologues, along with celebrity impressions such as Tina Turner, Prince, and Stevie Wonder. Its various iterations and revivals ran for 19 years, including a six-part Radio 4 revival in 2020.
Co-founder and supporter of Comic Relief
comic relief it may well be Henry’s most significant legacy. In 1985, he co-founded the charity with writer Richard Curtis, as a response to the famine in Ethiopia. His main tenet is to raise money by making the public laugh with British comedians, and his first live fundraiser in 1986 eventually spawned the first red nose day in 1988.
In 2015, it was announced that in the 30 years that Comic Relief had been running, there had been raised over £1.4 billion for charity. Henry and Curtis are still active in the annual telethons to this day. “I miss the days when it was just three people and a dog in a room arguing about where the money should go and why. But I love the fact that Richard is still in charge and that people still care and put their hands in their pockets for it”, Henry wrote.
singing the blues
Although he doesn’t really identify as a singer, Henry has been involved in quite a few musical projects. Interestingly, he first appeared as a chorus girl in kate bushThe song of “Why should I love you?” in 1993.
In 2015 he produced the program Lenny Henry has the blues for Sky, in which he worked with musicians, including King Crimson’s Jakko Jakszyk, to produce an album. This culminated in Henry’s well-received blues album, Blues of the new millennium.
Writing books for her daughter
In 2019, Henry published his first memoir. Who am I, again?detailing his formative years, from his parents coming to Dudley from Jamaica to his rise in the entertainment business.. Written in a slightly frenetic tone that reflects his exuberant personality, Henry reflected that it felt less like an autobiography and more like “laughing and crying like a maniac until everything was on the page.He then followed up with his second memoir. rising to the surface in 2021, covering the years through his rise to fame.
Facing the lack of non-white characters in fantasy novels, Henry has written two books for young adults. He was inspired to do so when he couldn’t find books and stories that spoke to his daughter, Billie. The boy with wings Y the book of legends both feature young black leads, and one of their lead characters is also deaf. Diversity and inclusion are an integral part of the projects.
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