An award winning comedian, documentary maker, communicator and founding member of Comic Relief, Lenny Henry has secured his position as one of Britain's best known and admired entertainers. But the road to stardom was not always a glittering one. Coming from an Afro-Caribbean background, opportunities for black comedians like Lenny were severely limited when he broke into showbusiness in the 1970s, and for years he was one of the few black comedians on British mainstream TV. His natural talent as a comedian - initially as an impressionist - always shone through, but his success also required determination and a positive spirit.
Much has changed since Lenny won New Faces in 1975 - the Britain's Got Talent of its day - and Lenny continues to champion cultural diversity, not just at the BBC where he has scored most of his notable successes, but throughout the entertainment field. He sees mentoring, leadership, goal setting and teamwork as the central tenets to every aspect of his career and the things he cares about. In his inspirational speeches, he addresses cultural diversity in the work place, as well as the importance of team work in achieving success - another area in which he is highly experienced, through his work with Comic Relief.
Comic Relief has of course played a large part in Lenny's life. As co-founder of the charity, he has seen the organisation continue to grow. Founded in 1985 by Lenny and the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis in response to famine in Ethiopia, the highlight of Comic Relief's appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon held in March, alternating with the sister project Sport Relief. Lenny has travelled far and wide for Comic Relief's fundraising efforts.
Lenny's achievements as a television entertainer are too numerous to list in full, but highlights include co-presenter and resident comedian on Tiswas (from 1978), The Lenny Henry Show (which ran for more than 20 years, starting in 1984), Lenny Henry in Pieces and the sitcom Chef!
In addition to being a much loved and respected comedian (in 2003, he was listed in The Observer newspaper as one of the fifty funniest acts in British comedy), in recent years Lenny has also carved a notable niche as a Shakespearian actor, receiving widespread critical acclaim in the role of Orthello. Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph said "This is one of the most astonishing debuts in Shakespeare I have ever seen. It is impossible to praise too highly Henry's courage in taking on so demanding and exposed a role, and then performing it with such authority and feeling."
Lenny Henry is a warm, wonderfully humorous man who always imbues audiences with his natural joie de vivre. His Speeches are both motivational and of course very funny. To book him for your event, contact a Prime Performers Booking Agent via the online booking enquiry form or alternatively call 020 7251 8222 for further information.
- The son of a baker, Paul originally trained as a sculptor before finding fame on The Great British Bake Off.
- Matt Allwright is a television presenter and journalist with integrity and his own distinctive style.
- Sony and Writers Guild Award winning writer and comedian best known for his critically-acclaimed BBC Radio 4 show Mark Steel’s In Town.