Entertainment & Arts

Lenny Henry 'chuffed' at knighthood

Lenny Henry
Image caption Henry is reportedly being knighted for services to charity and comedy

Comedian and actor Lenny Henry looks set to become Sir Lenny after confirming he will receive a knighthood in the Queen's birthday honours.

The star said he was "very chuffed" about the honour, which was first reported in the press at the weekend.

Speaking to Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2 on Tuesday, he said he had not expected the accolade.

"It's not something you think about really when you grow up in Dudley. But it's a fantastic thing," he said.

The honours will be officially announced on Friday.

Image caption Henry starred with Tracey Ullman, and David Copperfield in Three of a Kind
Image caption The Lenny Henry Show began in the 1980s and was revived in 1995 and 2003

Henry said: "I'm being pummelled from all sides by my family, saying, 'Do we get some land? Do we get a castle now? Do we get 100 men in plate armour following us around Dudley?'

"I'm very pleased. And my mum would have loved it.

"It is a wonderful thing and my family are really, really chuffed. My friends have not stopped ringing up and saying congratulations. It is an extraordinary thing and I'm very chuffed."

Analysis - BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba

Until the Queen's Birthday Honours List is officially published, the names are kept secret and the people being honoured are told not to make the news public.

But last weekend, a number of Sunday newspapers reported that Lenny Henry was to receive a knighthood.

There have been leaks before. Last year, the Cabinet Office, which co-ordinates the honours, said there would be an investigation after more than half a dozen names including Joan Collins and James Corden were leaked in advance.

But even after such leaks, it's almost unheard of for the person being honoured to then publicly confirm the news before the honours list is officially published.

Henry found fame on TV talent show New Faces in 1975 before starring in children's favourite Tiswas and sketch shows including Three of a Kind and his own long-running Lenny Henry Show.

In the 1990s, he wrote and starred in the sitcom Chef!

He also acted in BBC drama Hope and Glory and earned acclaim for his stage performances in plays including Othello and The Comedy Of Errors.

The 56-year-old can currently be seen playing a gardener with Asperger's Syndrome in the third series of BBC One's lottery drama The Syndicate.

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Media captionLenny Henry: "If you have one set of people deciding what stories get told, you will always end getting the same kinds of stories"
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Media captionLenny Henry looks back on 25 years of Comic Relief

In recent years, he has led a campaign for greater diversity on British TV.

As a charity fundraiser, he co-founded Comic Relief, which has raised more than £1bn over the past three decades.

Henry said the honour was "for everybody who's helped make Comic Relief what it is".

He added: "I think it's for all of us and that's what I'm pleased about. The thing said 'services to charity'. Well that's not just me.

"That's everybody who works at Comic Relief and has helped us raise over £1bn. It's a huge huge thank you. It's for us, not just for me."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Henry, pictured with former wife Dawn French, was made a CBE in 1999

Henry is the latest high-profile honours recipient whose identity has been leaked to the press in advance of the official announcement.

After leaks of the last New Year's Honours, Sir Bob Kerslake, the outgoing head of the Civil Service, said there would be an inquiry into how the names came out.

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