Lenny Henry to film TV sitcom pilot

Friday 14th March 2014, 12:47pm

Lenny Henry

Lenny Henry looks set to star in his first TV sitcom since the 1990s comedy Chef!

Chortle reports that the BBC are working on filming a pilot episode of Rudy's Rare Records, the Radio 4 comedy series he stars in.

Rudy's Rare Records, which ran for four series on Radio 4 between 2008 and 2012, follows the goings on in a small family-run reggae and ska record shop in Birmingham. Henry plays neurotic-divorcee Adam, who has moved back home to help his charismatic dad Rudy (Larrington Walker) run the shop. They share the miniscule flat upstairs with Adam's 17-year-old son Richie, who is a constant source of worry for Adam. The show also stars Jeffery Kissoon as mischievous family friend Clifton, Natasha Godfrey as moody shop assistant Tasha and Claire Benedict as Rudy's girlfriend (then wife) Doreen.

A not-for-broadcast pilot is currently being prepared by BBC Birmingham. Pictures of Lenny Henry shooting scenes by a canal in cycling gear have been uploaded to Twitter by attendees at a conference overlooking the canal.

Danny Robins, who writes the show, explained to Chortle: "Over four series on radio we've seen them grow into a tight-knit family and I couldn't imagine doing it without any of [the established cast], so they're all there. It's still the same old Rudy's with lots of jokes and great music between scenes, so I hope people who were fans of the radio series will recognise and enjoy it in the same way. But I like to think it has also grown and developed in the transition.

"The most exciting thing really though, is we've been able to introduce the shop itself. Whereas you could only imagine it on radio, you now get to see it in all its chaotic, record-filled glory. All the pictures we've had in our heads... have been able to spill out on screen."

Lenny Henry tweeted on Thursday: "In the Rudy's Rare Records set, having the time of my life...."

Robins also revealed to Chortle that he has created a stage version of the show which will be performed in London and Birmingham this autumn. He told reporter Jay Richardson: "The play is a chance to explore the characters in a deeper way over a whole evening rather than just a half-hour episode. Of course there is music - it wouldn't be Rudy's without that. There will be a live band on stage playing classic reggae, ska, soul and hip hop tracks. The music will be integral to the show and we're hoping it will make for a really fun, lively night out."

In the most recent phase of his career, Lenny Henry has moved into dramatic acting and in the process received good reviews and acting awards for roles including Othello. His last major TV comedy project was The One Lenny Henry, a single sketch show special broadcast in January 2012.

In the 70s and 80s he appeared in a number of sitcoms, including The Fosters and Chef!. He also starred in high profile sketch formats, notably The Lenny Henry Show in [y] 1987[/y] and 1988.

Henry is now preparing for a return to comedy. Aside from the Rudy's Rare Records pilot, he is also working on Danny And The Human Zoo. The BBC One project will be a 90-minute fictionalised account of his life as a working-class teenager in 1970s Dudley.

Additionally, Radio 4 have commissioned Lenny Henry: Rogue's Gallery, a show which is described as "A confessional, warm, and surprising series of characters all written and performed by Lenny Henry."

News on whether the pilot of Rudy's Rare Records is to be picked up to series is expected later in the year.

The below clip shows Henry starring in the 1977 series of The Fosters:

In this clip, filmed in 2012, Danny Robins and Lenny Henry discuss the background of Rudy's Rare Records:

View this clip on the BBC website

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