Sir Lenny Henry named Royal Television Society Fellow

Sir Lenny Henry named Royal Television Society Fellow

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By Ed Gove,
Wednesday, 23rd March 2016
Diversity campaigner and RTS Fellow Sir Lenny Henry at the RTS Programme Awards 2016 (Credit: Richard Kendall)

Sir Lenny Henry was presented with the Judges' Award at last night's RTS Programme Awards at London's Grosvenor House Hotel.

The Judges’ Award recognises an outstanding contribution to the UK’s television and media industry and the actor, writer, comedian and producer collected the Award in recognition of his work to raise awareness of issues surrounding diversity within the television industry.

In 2014, Lenny confronted an issue that the industry has been reluctant to acknowledge – in the six years to 2012 the number of black, Asian and minority ethnic people working in television had dropped by almost a third.

His call for a sea-change in the industry has resulted in real action being taken to help ensure that the population which now makes and appears on television accurately reflects those who watch it.

He said "I am truly humbled, and most importantly, truly hopeful that this Award is a pan-industry acknowledgement that diversity must be at the heart of our industry if we are to reflect British society now, and most importantly, in the future.

In the meantime, I would like to accept this award on behalf of all my fellow campaigners who have worked tirelessly over the years to increase diversity. Please keep going, keep raising awareness and don’t accept half measures.”

The chair of the RTS Programme Awards, Alex Mahon added, “Two years ago Lenny Henry started a conversation about diversity that woke the industry up to the need for change. Since then the conversation has become broader and its champions are now legion.

We still have a huge way to go but the pipeline of diverse talent is very clearly available.”

Lenny was also surprised on the night with a Fellowship of the RTS. 

Other RTS Fellows have included include Michael Palin, Melvyn Bragg and the late Sir David Frost.


 Since winning the ATV talent show New Faces in 1975, Lenny has been a constant presence on our TV screens. 

As a stand-up comedian he joined the popular children's TV show Tiswas with Chris Tarrant and Bob Carolgees. 

He went on to work on popular shows such as Three of a Kind before fronting and creating his own series, appearing in films and starring in the successful sitcom Chef!

More recently, Lenny’s extraordinary career has taken him in new directions – he’s studied Shakespeare and become a critically acclaimed stage actor; he’s written plays, television drama and screenplays, made documentaries and produced music shows.

He has won several notable awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Comedy Awards and BBC British Personality of the Year. In addition to his work on-screen, Lenny is also co-founder of charity Comic Relief.

To see the full list of winners from the night, click here.

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Sir Lenny Henry was presented with the Judges' Award at last night's RTS Programme Awards at London's Grosvenor House Hotel.