Who Am I, Again? Lenny Henry leaves audience wanting more

Book review: Comedian’s autobiography covers his early years against backdrop of British racism

Lenny Henry with his mother in January 1975 after he made his TV debut and won New Faces. Photograph: Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty

Lenny Henry with his mother in January 1975 after he made his TV debut and won New Faces. Photograph: Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty

A couple of years ago, Lenny Henry discovered that Bob Monkhouse had kept a VHS tape of Henry’s TV debut on the entertainment show New Faces. He was just 16. He had begun his routine, wearing a floppy bowtie and a beret, impersonating Michael Crawford’s Frank Spencer. “The impact of starting with my back to the cameras became clear as I turned to face everyone . . . and the audience discovered I wasn’t just another impressionist. I was black. And they hadn’t known.”

He won, and has gone on to become a British national treasure, co-founder of Comic Relief and a sir. In this memoir of his early years, Who Am I, Again? Henry writes that he sat in tears after that video, “watching that kid, and wondering where did that come from? Now everyone knew who I was. But did I?”

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