Saturday 10 December 2016

Lenny Henry calls for more ethnic diversity on TV

Published 25/08/2015 | 08:35

Lenny Henry
Lenny Henry

Lenny Henry is on a crusade for more diversity in casting "BAME" (black, Asian and minority ethnic) people on screen and in writing, producing and directing.

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The actor and comedian, 57, told the Radio Times it is not just a matter of "another black or Asian person in Coronation Street or EastEnders", but about hearing different perspectives on life.

An example of his campaign is Danny and the Human Zoo, the first TV drama he has written.

The forthcoming one-off for BBC One is a story drawn from his childhood and set in a Jamaican household in Dudley, Birmingham, in the 1960s.

Lenny Henry
Lenny Henry

The rags to riches tale mirrors Henry's own rise to fame, and sees the comedian portraying the father of talented impressionist Danny, played by newcomer Kascion Franklin.

A fixture on British TV since winning New Faces with an impersonation of Stevie Wonder back in 1975, Henry's career includes much-loved children's series Tiswas and BBC comedy Chef.

In Danny and the Human Zoo, he said he had the chance to have conversations with his on-screen son that never happened with his own father "because my dad never had them with me".

"Conversations that should have happened."

Henry, who was recently knighted, also talks about his new accolade and how proud his late mum would have been.

"She sat on the same balcony as the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance and kept waving at her.

"She'd have come (to the investiture) and worn a very, very big hat and hardly have believed it of the boy who couldn't tidy his room and was difficult at school."

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