Sir Lenny Henry at 60: the comedy legend looks back on favourite moments from his career

To celebrate his 60th birthday, Radio Times asked Sir Lenny to talk us through some golden moments from his life in TV comedy career

Lenny Henry (Getty, EH)

What are Lenny Henry’s favourite moments from his career in comedy? The TV legend talks us through his top picks to mark his 60th birthday… 

Advertisement

The Lenny Henry Sunday Hoot!, 1983

(RT archive)
Chris Ridley

“I was chuffed to be asked to do my own show on Radio 1 – the idea of playing the music I loved and mixing that with all my comedy nonsense was irresistible. I loved it.”


Three of a Kind, 1982-83

34-LI696951@RT3081-STH-001
RT archive

“Meeting Tracey Ullman and David Copperfield was life-altering. I learned so much. Three of a Kind was a brilliant experience.

“‘I stole as much as I could from Tracey Ullman – her characters were always based on truth.”


Tiswas, Co-host, 1978-81

34-RT02_0845
Don Smith

“What I remember most about Tiswas was waking up from unconsciousness after accidentally inhaling shaving foam. That and nearly killing the wrestler Big Daddy with a pyrotechnic special effect. The 2007 reunion show was but a pale imitation of the mayhem and cacophony that was the real thing.”


Deeva, 1995

34-Lenny-Henry-2a
BBC

Deeva was one of the new sketch-show characters introduced in the 90s, for The Lenny Henry Show, then enjoying its third of four incarnations in nearly 20 years. “I’ve dressed up as women,” says Lenny, “Yeah, what about it?”


Delbert Wilkins, 1984

34-Lenny-Henry-009
Chris Ridley

“Paul Boateng was on TV trying to articulate his rage about what was happening in the black community after the Brixton riots and he was so angry he was foaming at the mouth. Delbert was an alternative response – cool, looking fly and having a smart-ass response for every stupid question: “The policeman pulled me over, he said, ‘Can you identify yourself?’ I looked in the mirror, I said, ‘That’s me’”.”


Alive and Kicking, 1991

34-Lenny-Henry-013
Trevor Leighton

“Robbie Coltrane and I were a little worried about how people might react to us playing tough guys. He shouldn’t have worried – he got Cracker as a result.”


With Frank Bruno, 1984

34-Lenny-Henry-022
Alan Ballard

“I loved working with Frank on the Lenny Henry Show. I think my favourite sketch was Frankanory.”


Comic Relief, from 1988

34-1-SE-11-2-CoverB
RT archive

“Comic Relief is a huge part of my life. The work that everyone in the industry has done to contribute to projects both in the UK and abroad cannot be overstated. And the British public’s support throughout our entire history has been brilliant . Thank you, UK – you rock.”


Chef!, 1993-96

34-LI702522@RT3603-STH-001
RT archive

“The thing I’m proudest about Chef is that it was a true attempt at having a diverse production onscreen and beyond. We had a brown cinematographer, a black sound man, a Turkish cast member and a pretty diverse mix of crew.”


Advertisement

Lenny Henry Birthday Show airs on Wednesday 22nd August at 8pm on BBC1