Lenny Henry’s ‘joy’ to be back

Lenny Henry
Lenny Henry

TWINNING Doncaster with Gotham City would be a great idea, according to comedian and actor Lenny Henry. After all, he said: “Who doesn’t want to make friends with a town with a caped crusader?”

The much-loved funnyman shared his thoughts on Shakespeare, his PhD and what he’s learned about comedy in a lifetime on stage in an exclusive interview with the Free Press.

He is bringing his new stand-up show Pop Life to the Doncaster Civic Theatre next month and says he is thrilled to be back doing what he still calls his “day job” of making people laugh.

“When people put money in the till, it is incumbent on me to roll my sleeves up and give it all I’ve got and that is what I’ve always done,” he said.

The star of 80s children’s TV favourite Tiswas and co-founder of Comic Relief is even throwing in some piano performances - though he admits his daughter Billie is the family’s real piano-playing talent.

Lenny is no stranger to Doncaster, saying: “I used to work with comedian David Copperfield on Three Of A Kind and David was from Doncaster.

“He always used to go on about ‘Donny’. I’ve actually been there quite a lot and I’ve had a lot of good times there.”

Two years ago, the West Midlands-born comedian took on the role of Othello to major critical acclaim and he says he’d love to play the role again - and he’s already signed up to play Macbeth next year.

As well as being back on the road, Lenny, 54, is also finding time in his hectic schedule to study for a PhD in screenwriting at the Royal Holloway College in London. He is making progress but describes it as a “bit of a black hole filled with books”.

About what he has learned in a long career on stage and screen, he added: “I watched my first-ever performance on TV again recently and it was so full of joy. There was just nothing to lose. I got four or five rounds of applause yet I really had not idea what I was doing.

“When you know more what you’re doing, you start to doubt every sentence but before that it’s just like wahooo, let’s go!”

Lenny Henry is performing at Doncaster Civic Theatre on November 5. Tickets are still available at £24.50. Call 01302 342349 or visit www.doncastercivic.co.uk.