Lenny Henry to celebrate 60th birthday in BBC show: When does it air? Who will star in it? And what can fans expect?

By Rebecca Stanley | Dudley entertainment | Published:

Sir Lenny Henry will mark his 60th birthday with a special tribute show set to air tomorrow.

The Lenny Henry Birthday Show

It's been 43 years since the Dudley comedian first appeared on talent show New Faces, and now his career will be celebrated alongside his milestone birthday during a special show on BBC One.

But who will appear on the show? And what will the show entail? We take a look ahead of its broadcast...

When will the show air on TV?

Lenny Henry

His birthday may not be until August 29, but the star is celebrating early with The Lenny Henry Birthday Show set to air tomorrow on BBC One at 8pm.

The show is an hour long, and will be available on demand shortly after broadcast.

Talking ahead of the show, Lenny said that: “I’m very chuffed to have my comedy work celebrated like this.


"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.

“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...”

Who will appear on the show?

Sir Trevor McDonald and Lenny Henry as Trevor McDoughnut


As well as the comedy star, Sir Trevor McDonald will host the show in front of a studio audience.

Lenny previously parodied Sir Trevor in Tiswas as Trevor McDoughnut, a newsreader in very large spectacles with an unusual style of delivering the news.

Tiswas - Newsflash

Despite this perhaps unflattering portrayal, Lenny has described the pair as good friends, telling the BBC that 'we really enjoy each other's company'.

Who is Lenny Henry?

The Lenny Henry Birthday Show

59-year-old comedian Lenny started out largely as an impressionist, winning fans for his takes on Frank Spencer, Stevie Wonder and other famous figures, but eventually began creating his characters who both mocked and celebrated black British culture, including ladies’ man Theophilus P Wildebeeste and pirate radio DJ Delbert Wilkins.

A brief foray into Hollywood with True Identity didn’t result in a big screen career of note, so he returned to the UK and gained plaudits for his dramatic performance in Alive and Kicking, a true story in which he played a heroin addict alongside Robbie Coltrane.

That led to the dark sitcom Chef! and the lead role in school-based drama Hope and Glory.

Since then Henry has dabbled in music, continued to host Comic Relief and successfully studied for a PhD. His acting career has also blossomed, with roles in Shakespeare’s Othello and The Comedy of Errors winning rave reviews.

What can fans expect from the show?

Lenny Henry unrecognisable as Stevie Wonder filming for his birthday show

The programme will take a light-hearted look back at the comedian's career, as well as presenting some brand new sketches.

Talking ahead of the show, the star told BBC that: "It's a lot of me talking to Sir Trevor about things that have happened to me, my love of music, growing up in Dudley, my audition for New Faces, my relationship with my mum, and what it was like growing up in a Jamaican household and then suddenly having to integrate with a predominately white Dudley.

"I talk about diversity - it’s quite a wide-ranging conversation. There are a lot of funny things but there are some serious things too. I didn’t want to rely on archive, I wanted to do some stuff that was present".

Earlier this year, Lenny was spotted filming the show dressed unrecognisably as music icon Stevie Wonder and grime artist Stormzy for new sketches during the show.

A video has also been released of Lenny parodying Childish Gambino's hit song This Is America ahead of the show's broadcast.

NEWS JUST IN: TV is dead | Lenny Henry - BBC

In a video posted on BBC Four’s Facebook page, the star recreated the iconic video dressed as the American rapper, changing the lyrics to talk about to the decline of television.

Lenny has also told BBC that he is 'crazy about Marvel comics' and so wanted to do a sketch about 2018 blockbuster Black Panther.

Rebecca Stanley

By Rebecca Stanley

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me:


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