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Lenny Henry to publish new book Rising To The Surface

Tuesday 4th August 2020, 1:24pm by Jay Richardson

  • Lenny Henry has written Rising To The Surface, a memoir about his entertainment career
  • The book - out in 2021 - will cover his work on shows including Tiswas, The Lenny Henry Show and Chef!
  • He is also preparing a BBC Four documentary with the working title The Hidden History Of Classical Music
Lenny Henry's Race Through Comedy. Lenny Henry. Copyright: Douglas Road.

Lenny Henry is to publish a memoir about his entertainment career and present a revisionist history of classical music for the BBC, British Comedy Guide can reveal.

The comedian's story of his upbringing in Dudley, Who Am I Again?, came out in October, finishing with his breakthrough 1975 television appearance on the talent show New Faces when he was just 16.

Now Henry has penned a follow-up, Rising To The Surface, covering his career on children's show Tiswas, sketch showcase The Lenny Henry Show, the sitcom Chef! and his transition from comic roles into Shakespearean acting.

Like its predecessor, the autobiography will be published by Faber & Faber and comes out next year.

After relating his New Faces experience in Who Am I Again?, "everybody said: 'why do you stop there, why do you stop when you're 18?'" Henry recalled on the Tea With Twiggy podcast.

"And I go 'because it would have taken me a really long time to write up to the present day'. I also didn't really want to write about my marriage and stuff because I respect my ex-wife [Dawn French] and my kid and my family and I think it's wrong to do that stuff.

"So I kind of felt like if I was to write a second book it's going to be a career retrospective and it's going to be about craft."

Henry, who released an album of blues covers and original compositions in 2015, New Millennium Blues, presented Our Classical Century on BBC Four in 2018 with Radio 3 host Suzy Klein.

The pair have reunited for a new documentary on BBC Four with the working title The Hidden History Of Classical Music. The 90-minute film shines a light on overlooked black composers and musicians, exploring the hurdles they had to overcome because of race and how the classical world has been "whitewashed" by historians and musicologists.

Henry has previously written of his admiration for Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, "the African Mahler", whose compositions he describes as "dynamic, bold, incredibly melodic and immediately accessible".

Directed by classical music documentarian Guy Evans, The Hidden History Of Classical Music is made by Henry's Douglas Road Productions, whose The Story Of Gospel Music In Six Songs with Mica Paris aired on BBC Four on Monday, and whose forthcoming slate includes a BBC One adaptation of Kit de Waal's bestselling novel My Name Is Leon.

Henry also disclosed several other projects he has in the pipeline in the interview with model Twiggy. They included "an idea for a television thing about my mum", an upcoming Radio 4 series and a new website with archived clips of his career, noting that videos of him as Tina Turner, Prince and Michael Jackson uploaded to YouTube have attracted a "very good" response so far.


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Lenny Henry - Rising To The Surface

A second volume of memoirs from Lenny Henry, covering his entertainment career from 1975 to date.

Please note that this product's release date has yet to be confirmed. If you add it to your wishlist we will email you when it is ready to pre-order.

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