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Lenny Henry

Lenworth George Henry CBE (born 29 August 1958), better known as Lenny Henry, is an English entertainer born in Dudley, Worcestershire.

He is one of Britain’s best loved and most versatile performers. He is at home on television and onstage, in drama and in cabaret, fronting his band, voicing film characters, exploring how humour differs around the country, touring Australia and raising money for Comic Relief.

His earliest television appearance was on the New Faces talent show in 1975 where he repeatedly won. The following year he appeared in LWT’s sitcom The Fosters alongside Norman Beaton, Britain’s first comedy series with predominantly black performers. His formative years were in working men’s clubs.

He co-hosted the children’s programme Tiswas from 1978 until 1981, and subsequently performed and wrote for 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 and character comedian.

Outside comedy and sketch shows, Lenny attracted huge ratings as the obstreperous Gareth Blackstock in Chef. He then made his Hollywood debut in Disney’s True Identity, returning to Britain to film Alive and Kicking with Robbie Coltrane – winning a Golden Nymph Award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival.

Henry is perhaps best known to modern audiences as the choleric chef Gareth Blackstock from the 1990s television comedy series Chef!, or from his 1999 straight-acting lead role in the BBC drama Hope And Glory.

More recently Lenny has picked out the funniest videos on the Internet in lennyhenry.tv. He has also starred in Radio 4′s sitcom Rudy’s Rare Records, and presented three radio documentaries investigating whether life coaches, method acting and Bob Dylan are all they’re cracked up to be. 2009 saw Lenny add another string to his bow, treading the boards as the eponymous Othello; a part which saw him claim rave reviews.

Henry is also one of the celebrities most associated with the British Comic Relief charity organisation, along with his ex-wife, well-known comedienne Dawn French, and Griff Rhys Jones, and has hosted the show and also presented filmed reports from overseas on the work of the charity. He was even the voice of the British speaking clock for two weeks in aid of Comic Relief.

PRICE BAND: Diamond £20,000 plus

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