Lenny Henry – comedian, actor, presenter, writer, and activist – is to be honoured at lunchtime today (Friday) by journalists who write about TV for a living.
At the 41st Broadcasting Press Guild Awards lunch, he will receive the BPG’s highest honour, the Harvey Lee Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting. Lenny will take a break from rehearsals for tonight’s Comic Relief telethon to come to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane to attend the ceremony, which is sponsored by the Discovery Channel. http://www.discoveryuk.com/
The chairman of the BPG, Gideon Spanier, said: “Forty years ago, as a young black performer, Lenny Henry smashed stereotypes on British TV. He has gone on to star in Othello and much else – but there’s so much more to him than that. Thirty years ago, he co-founded Comic Relief which has so far raised £950 million for charity, and we’re delighted he’ll receive the award on Red Nose Day.
“There is a second reason we felt this award was particularly fitting this year. No one has done more in recent years to speak out against what he calls the ‘appalling’ lack of diversity in broadcasting. His campaigning has at last started to pay off, as all the major broadcasters have pledged to meet new targets in the last few months.”
The BPG Awards are highly prized by programme-makers because they are selected independently by journalists who write about TV and radio – correspondents, critics and previewers. The awards lunch will be attended by the winners, BPG members and leading broadcasting executives. www.broadcastingpressguild.org
Lenny Henry made his name in his teens in 1975, doing impressions on the TV talent show New Faces. He went on to co-host the ITV children’s show Tiswas and appear in the sitcom The Fosters, Britain’s first comedy series with predominantly black performers. In the 1980s he appeared in the BBC’s Three of A Kind alongside Tracey Ullman before landing his own show and further developing characters such as soul singer Theophilus P. Wildebeeste, newscaster Trevor MacDoughnut and radio DJ Delbert Wilkins from the Brixton Broadcasting Corporation. He later took leading roles in the comedy series Chef, and the school drama Hope and Glory, while continuing his stand-up comedy performances and his central role at Comic Relief.
You can read more about the Broadcasting Press Guild, including a full list of winners over the past 40 years, and see pictures and videos from previous BPG awards ceremonies at:
Notes to editors:
1. The other award winners will be announced at the 41st BPG Awards lunch in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Friday March 13th 2015. Winners have been informed in advance and places at the lunch are by invitation only. A full news release, embargoed till 12 noon on Friday, will be available.
2. The Broadcasting Press Guild was founded in 1974 and has more than a hundred members. They are journalists who specialise in covering television, radio and the media, and include critics, previewers, media correspondents and feature writers from national newspapers, broadcasters and leading trade journals and websites.
3. Previous winners of the BPG’s Harvey Lee Award for an outstanding contribution to broadcasting, include John Humphrys, Sir Terry Wogan, Cilla Black, Melvyn Bragg, Andrew Davies, Sir David Frost, Michael Grade, Phil Redmond, Beryl Vertue, Tony Warren, Anne Wood and Charles Wheeler. Harvey Lee was a leading light of the BPG, who died at the tragically early age of 41, and the award for outstanding achievement has been given in his memory every year since 1992. (See more details at http://www.broadcastingpressguild.org/.)