Theatre News

Lenny Henry to present BBC black British theatre series

The actor and comedian received a knighthood for services to drama and charity this year

Lenny Henry is due to receive a Knighthood in January
Lenny Henry
© Dan Wooller

As part of a BBC season celebrating theatre in the UK, Lenny Henry is to front a 10-part radio documentary on the history of black British theatre, film and TV.

Henry, whose documentary Raising the Bar – 100 Years of Black British Theatre and Screen will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November, has long been a prominent campaigner for greater ethnic diversity in the arts.

Henry said the show will highlight the "history and struggle of black British creativity" over the last century.

He also added: "This Radio 4 series covers a huge span of black British theatre, TV and film – from Ira Aldridge to Steve McQueen and Nina Baden-Semper to Bola Agbaje – it's a great sweep of history that excites and stimulates the imagination.

"It is easy to forget that there were precedents to our current age of BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) breakthroughs and by talking to the likes of Roy Williams and Mustapha Matura, we acknowledge that the young reach their current heights by standing on the shoulders of those that went before."

Among the interviewees in Henry's show will be Trinidadian playwright Mustapha Matura, actor and playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah and theatre director Paulette Randall.

The season, which will be broadcast across radio, television and online, was first announced earlier this year as a push to get people involved in the creative arts. The full line-up also includes an adaptation of The Dresser starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins and 11 programmes about regional theatre in England.