Creator: Lenny Henry

Sir Lenworth George "Lenny" Henry, Kt CBE (born 29 August 1958) is an English actor, writer, comedian and occasional television presenter, but to American audiences, he's the Shrunken Head from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

He was the first host of Comic Relief, and is still heavily involved with the event. His best known sitcom is Chef. Branched out into theatre acting in the 2000s with roles in William Shakespeare's Othello and The Comedy of Errors.

He was married to Dawn French (The Vicar of Dibley, French and Saunders) from 1984 to 2010. In recent years Henry has heavily criticised the British entertainment industry for it's lack of minority representation in both on and off camera roles.

Filmography

His work provides examples of

  • Benevolent Genie: In Bernard And The Genie Henry plays one of these to Alan Cumming's Bernard.
  • Everything Is Racist: Lenny Henry in Pieces had a character who was a large black man who applied for jobs that were unsuitable for him (such as the lead role in Annie) and would get the job after accusing the interviewers of racism whenever they told him he wasn't what they were looking for.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: He imagined the 'House Band in Heaven' on his show - Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, Karen Carpenter, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain... and George Formby on ukelele; "'Ey up Mr Hendrix can I 'ave a go? (sings) 'Ey Joe... where you goin' with that gun in yer 'and?'
  • It's All Junk: White Goods is a virtually unknown ITV drama (with a surprisingly awesome cast including Lenny Henry, Ian McShane, Rachel Weisz, Chris Barrie) about a severe falling-out between two families after they win a bunch of stuff in a game show and can't agree on how to divide up the loot. Lenny Henry's character eventually decides to burn the lot.
  • Literal Genie: The Christmas programme Bernard And The Genie starring Alan Cumming, Lenny Henry, and Rowan Atkinson.
    Bernard: I have to be very careful, haven't I?
    Genie: Yes, say the words "I wish" with the caution you would normally reserve for "Please castrate me."
  • Michael Jackson's "Thriller" Parody: He spoofed the music video as "Thinner" in 1984, parodying allegations about Jackson's anorexia. It also inverted the opening scene (the girl's dating a werewolf, and is horrified when he turns into Michael Jackson), and featured "Michael" accidentally knocking the head off a zombie in the dance routine, his mother giving him a telling-off ( and having the zombie eyes at the end), and a cameo by Henry's David Bellamy impression.
    Vincent Price soundalike: This film will shock, your flesh will creep,
    It's nasty, but it sure ain't cheap,
    And Michael will scream harder still,
    Just wait until he gets ... the bill!
  • One Phone Call: He did a routine about being arrested by the police and told he was allowed one phone call. "So I phoned my Uncle in Jamaica 'cos I haven't spoken to him in years"
  • Paddleball Shot: Parodied in a sketch on The Lenny Henry Show in which one of two doomed men in the opening scene of a spoof horror film keeps waving his fishing pole around. The other guy asks him what he's doing, and the first says he's making the most of the 3D effects (the sketch is not shot in 3D, although the pole behaves like a bad 3D effect).
  • Painting the Medium: He hosted a show about dreams, in which he met an ancient philosopher who didn't speak English, so they agreed to talk in Subtitle. Further parodied when Lenny Henry is talking about whether dreaming of having tea with the queen and whether that meant it was important to really have tea with the queen. His subtitle replaced "tea with the queen" with "sex with Michelle Pfeiffer".
  • The Parody: He is very fond of parodies. The most notable are his spoofs of pop stars and their music videos: Michael Jackson, Prince and Beyoncé Knowles.
  • Techno Babble: In his Doctor Who skit:
    Doctor: Now, it looks like the proto-anodysing discorporators have short circuited the molecular quark overload.
    Companion: Is that difficult to fix?
    Doctor: No, but it's very difficult to say!
  • Take That: A sketch on The Lenny Henry Show parodying Doctor Who had Lenny Henry as the Doctor confronting the big-haired alien dictator Thatchos (and her ineffectual underling Denos).
    • Interestingly, this makes him one of two actors to play the Doctor, official or otherwise, with a knighthood - John Hurt is the other.
  • Token Black: In the British comedy scene he is the only really well known black comedian; only Reginald D Hunter comes close to his level of prominence.
  • Traffic Wardens: A skit where Lenny Henry is the next Doctor Who has him escaping the Cybermen only to find the TARDIS has been wheel-clamped. Fortunately his companion has a Disintegrator Ray.
  • White Like Me: Played a character like this in True Identity. Whenever he played Michael Jackson from 1987 on he also had to perform in white face.