- published: 25 Mar 2014
- views: 39713
Henry, the son of Jamaican immigrants, was born at Burton Road Hospital in Dudley in 1958. He was a pupil at St John's Primary School and later The Blue Coat School outside Dudley, before completing his school education at W.R. Tuson College (now Preston College).
His first manager was Robert Luff, who signed him in 1975 and gave him the opportunity to perform as part of the Luff-produced touring stage version of The Black and White Minstrel Show. In July 2009, Lenny Henry stated he was contractually obliged to perform and regretted his part in the show.
Shortly before this, on 17 December 1974, the then 16-year-old Henry had been voted Britain's top non-smoker for his declaration aimed at teenagers that smoking was not fashionable.
His earliest television appearance was on the New Faces talent show, which he won in 1975 with an impersonation of Stevie Wonder. The following year he appeared with Norman Beaton in LWT's sitcom The Fosters, Britain's first comedy series with predominantly black performers. His formative years were spent in working men's clubs, where his act was as a young black man impersonating white characters such as the Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em character Frank Spencer (whom he impersonated on New Faces). He also made guest appearances on television programmes including Celebrity Squares, Seaside Special and The Ronnie Corbett Show.