Lenny Henry tells Chris Evans about ‘moving and sad’ final Red Nose Day as host

Virgin Radio

2 May 2024, 12:49

Credit: Virgin Radio

Having hosted his last Red Nose Day earlier this year, Sir Lenny Henry has spoken to Chris Evans about the “very moving” occasion.

The actor, comedian and author joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar to speak about starring in a brand new audio drama, Halfway, when talk turned to his last ever night as host of Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day.

“It was very moving and sad, actually, because it's been half my life,” he said. 

“Richard Curtis and I sort of said we'd bow out on the same day, but I would just do mine on the telly, and Richard did it behind the scenes, and that was very moving too. To have raised over £1.6 billion with the British public is a pretty fantastic thing. So we were all a team. It’s a massive team effort.” 

On what happened after his last gig as host, Sir Lenny told Chris: “There was a do afterwards for all of us, and we made a speech and gifts were exchanged, and Richard said very rude things about everybody. And I got up and I sort of did crying and gave Richard a gift. 

“It was very moving. But I loved it, and we loved all the things we had to do, and they gave me extra stuff to do. They gave me I'm Just Len, the song from Barbie. And we did a W1A sketch.” 

He added: “Richard just talks and it's funny, but also very moving. It’s always incredibly thankful and shows a lot of gratitude for all the work that's been done and it just kills you when he talks. 

“It was a really good night.”

Speaking about co-founding Comic Relief with filmmaker Curtis, Sir Lenny said: “I was at the pointy end, but Richard is such a wonderful, generous, passionate man about these things. And he took me along on the journey, and sort of pushed me because I was sort of floating about a bit, I think, back in the day, I was doing lots of different types of things, Children in Need, and I was talking about diversity and all that kind of stuff. And then we just went on this massive adventure. It's been a huge adventure. And I'm a life president of Comic Relief, so will remain involved doing stuff behind the scenes.” 

On giving up the hosting role, the comedian said: “The important thing is that the new generation of comics and actors and presenters, who want to be philanthropic and do something to help out -  because it's quite good to give back. You know, because if they send a limo for you, you've got to give something back -  so I feel like the young ones are going to have to think about whether they want to give back or not. 

“And what's great is they do Stand Up to Cancer Children in Need, Comic Relief. Everybody keeps thinking this is something that needs to continue. So I say to all of them, ‘Keep going, keep continuing.’ We're going to ring you, we're going to say there's more stuff to do. Are you in?’ and if you're in, we're in with you, and that's cool.”

Lenny currently stars in a new Audible drama, Halfway, which is executive produced by Idris and Sabrina Elba. “I got to work with some amazing people, Arinzé Kene, and George Mackay, and people like that,” Lenny said. “It was a joy.

Speaking more about what he described as “basically a radio play to all intents and purposes,” Sir Lenny said: “What’s amazing is, all of these things are coming back. I walked into the canteen at Audible, and the entire cast of Green Wing were there. And they were recording six new episodes for Audible. So I think it's gonna be a thing.” 

Read more of what Lenny had to say about wanting to please Idris Elba here.

Halfway is out now on Audible. Find out more about Comic Relief here.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.