Tuesday 18 September 2018

Sir Lenny Henry lands TV special to celebrate his career as he turns 60

The special programme is one of several announced by the BBC.

Sir Lenny Henry lands TV special to celebrate his career as he turns 60 (Ian West/PA)
Sir Lenny Henry lands TV special to celebrate his career as he turns 60 (Ian West/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Sir Lenny Henry will have his decades-long career honoured with a celebratory broadcast on BBC One to coincide with his 60th birthday this year.

The programme was announced as the BBC unveiled its new slate of comedy commissions.

The Sir Lenny special, which will air later this year, will be filmed in front of a studio audience as the comedian takes a light-hearted look back at his career, which started in 1975 when he appeared on talent show New Faces.

This is a great honour. I’m very chuffed to have my comedy work celebrated like this Sir Lenny Henry

The show will also include archive clips from his years on the small screen, and there will be new sketches featuring special guests.

Sir Lenny, who turns 60 in August, said the broadcast is “a great honour”, and that he is “very chuffed” to have his comedy work celebrated.

He added: “One of the reasons I became a comedy performer was because of the rich and varied palette of comedy broadcast on the BBC throughout my childhood. I was hooked and my early career displays the connection.

“I’m a comedy consumer now, but my teens were marked by my family’s tendency to sit round the television and watch everything. So big up Auntie Beeb – you’re the reason I’m here…”

Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy commissioning, said: “Lenny’s unparalleled career is down to his superb versatility and huge charisma.

“This landmark special hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald gives audiences the chance to celebrate this well-loved, larger than life talent by going back to his origins as a comedy whirlwind with a phenomenal talent to create and inhabit characters. It’s going to be more than ‘oookaaay’!”

The BBC has also announced several other new commissions, including multi-character sitcom Ghosts, a live Halloween special of Inside No 9 and a comedy-drama series about learning disabilities called There She Goes.

Ghosts, penned by the writer-performers from Horrible Histories and Yonderland, combines comedy and horror and sees a number of restless spirits from people who have died across different centuries living together in a crumbling country home.

The series will air across six episodes on BBC One.

BBC Two dark comedy anthology series Inside No 9, created by and starring Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, will return in October for a Halloween edition.

Unlike the previous episodes, all of which tell a twisted tale linked to the number nine, it will be broadcast live.

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David Tennant will star in new BBC Four comedy drama series There She Goes (Isabel Infantes/PA)

BBC Four’s There She Goes tells the tale of a nine-year-old girl called Rosie who has severe learning disabilities, along with her father Simon, her mother Emily and her brother Ben.

David Tennant and Jessica Hynes will play Simon and Emily, with the five-part series written by actor and writer Shaun Pye.

There She Goes will be based on the experiences of Pye, whose daughter was born in 2006 with a rare and undiagnosed chromosomal disorder.

Other new BBC commissions include a second series of BBC Two’s Motherland, about the trials and traumas of middle-class motherhood, and BBC Three’s In My Skin, a darkly comic coming-of-age story about a 16-year-old girl who tells a lot of lies.

The BBC has also announced the second Felix Dexter Bursary for black, Asian and other ethnic minority writers, following the initiative’s launch last year.

A six-month bursary will be awarded to train an aspiring comedy writer to develop their skills at the BBC.

Press Association

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