Award winning comedian, documentary maker, communicator and a founding member of Comic Relief.
Lenny Henry‘s earliest television appearance was on the New Faces talent show, which he won in 1975 with an impersonation of Stevie Wonder. His formative years were in working men’s clubs where his unique act, a young black man impersonating white characters such as Frank Spencer from Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, gave him an edge in what were racially divisive times.
Later he appeared on the children’s programme Tiswas (hosted by Chris Tarrant) and subsequently the show Three of a Kind with comedians Tracey Ullman and David Copperfield. Around this time he met his future wife, Dawn French, who encouraged him to move over to the fledgling alternative comedy scene, where he established a career as a stand-up comedy performer, voice over artist, and character comedian.
Henry’s TV work started principally with his own self-titled show, which has appeared in various forms ever since. He was also a part-time member of The Comic Strip.
In 1987, he appeared in the TV film Coast to Coast. It was a comedy thriller with John Shea about two DJ’s with a shared passion for Motown music being chased across Britain.
In the early 1990s, Lenny Henry was lured to Hollywood to star in the film True Identity, in which his character spent most of the film pretending to be a white person in order to avoid the mob.
One of Lenny Henry’s most iconic roles was as the choleric chef in the 90s comedy series Chef!. In 1999 he also had a successful straight-acting lead role in the BBC drama Hope And Glory. He is also one of the celebrities most associated with the British Comic Relief charity organisation along with Griff Rhys Jones.
Lenny appeared as the voice of the “shrunken head” on the Knight Bus in the 2004 movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He also read the audio book version of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys and voiced a character on the children’s show Little Robots.
He was the voice of the British speaking clock for two weeks in March 2003 in aid of Comic Relief.
As a famous voice over artist he has voiced a number of commercials, including brand campaigns for Legal & General, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, and Comic Relief UK.
Lenny has appeared in advertisements for butter products in New Zealand, as well as portraying Saint Peter in the Virgin Mobile advertising campaign in South Africa. In the UK, he used his character of Theophilus P. Wildebeeste to advertise Alpen muesli, and endorsed the non-alcoholic lager, Kaliber.
Beginning In 2007, Lenny Henry began a partnership with budget hotel operator Premier Inn, fronting a number of TV advertising campaigns.