BBC Studioworks is to facilitate Sir Lenny Henry’s 60th birthday special which will air next month on BBC One.

ATV days: Lenny in Birmingham, where he appeared on shows New Faces, Tiswas and OTT.

Sir Lenny Henry is an icon of British comedy and we’re delighted to be facilitating this one-off special at Television Centre. The studio location couldn’t be more fitting for someone who has such a strong connection with this building.” – Meryl McLaren, Commercial Manager, BBC Studioworks. 

In 1975, a 16-year-old Lenny Henry bunked off school to appear on ATV’s New Faces talent show which was seen by millions of viewers each Saturday night on ITV. In 2018, after a long and glittering career, Sir Lenny is 60 – the perfect excuse for the beeb to celebrate a man who has made a unique impact on British comedy.

The celebratory show wil be produced at the iconic Television Centre in front of a live audience with BBC Studioworks providing studio and technical services for The Lenny Henry Birthday Show. The one-hour special hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald, will see Sir Lenny Henry take a light-hearted look back on his career and will include archive footage spanning four decades of entertainment, as well as new sketches.

Lenny Henry on the set of ATV Saturday children’s series Tiswas.

Lenny will take a light-hearted look back at his career from those early ATV days on New Faces, Tiswas and OTT to his spell at Yorkshire Television on Calendar Kids and then his long association with the BBC where he helped launch Comic Relief, appeared in sitcom Chef and has fronted numerous comedy shows, including his own self-titled stand-up and sketch series. The beeb programme will celebrate a career that started 43 years ago and hasn’t stopped since. The show will revisit all his favourite characters, from Theophilus P. Wildebeeste to Delbert Wilkins, Deakus to Mister Lister. And there’ll be new sketches featuring a number of special guests.

The show will record in BBC Studioworks’ 10.800 sq. ft. Studio TC1 later today (Monday 30th July) and will utilise the 600-seater configurable rostra for its live audience. BBC Studioworks has also facilitated a number of VTs for inclusion in the show which have been pre-recorded onsite at Television Centre. The production will use a five-camera configuration and Studioworks’ EVS tapeless recording system to capture the programme. The lighting will consist of a mixture of moving heads, LED fixtures, tungsten dual source and an iris rig.

Lenny Henry and Jonathan Ross host Comic Relief for BBC One.

The special, which has been commissioned to coincide with the comedian and actor turning 60, will air on BBC One in August. The show is to be produced by BBC Studios in association with Douglas Road.

“Lenny’s unparalleled career is down to his superb versatility and huge charisma. This landmark special hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald gives audiences the chance to celebrate this well-loved larger than life talent by going back to his origins as a comedy whirlwind with a phenomenal talent to create and inhabit characters. It’s going to be more than oookaaay!” – Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning

Tiswas regulars reunited for ITV a decade ago
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