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Lenny Henry: My father never hugged me. Never said ‘I love you’


Sep. 1, 2014 Telegraph

Lenny Henry was on the London Underground recently. It was the day after he’d given the Bafta Television Lecture in which he had called for greater diversity in creative industries. “There were a couple of guys being openly racist in a Tube that was packed and also very multiracial. They were saying terrible things and nobody was saying anything. I got up and walked off and sat next to a black woman who looked like my mum – hoping that she’d protect me if it all kicked off.”

Now 56, and on the eve of his 40th anniversary in television, Henry is famous for many things. For being a comedian and actor, his charity work on Comic Relief, and for having been married to Dawn French. He also campaigns for diversity, but when we meet backstage at the Hackney Empire, where he is continuing to transform himself into an actor, he is, initially, reluctant to talk about race. “They don’t ask Brad Pitt, do they? They never ask Mr Bean about race.” He laughs, but seems hurt.

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