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Lenny Henry slams Baftas for lack of diversity

CRITICAL COMEDIAN: Lenny Henry (PA)

TELEVISION COMEDIAN Lenny Henry has launched a stinging attack on the Bafta Awards for not celebrating black people in the industry.

Last Sunday’s awards, watched by 6.1 million viewers, was deemed by Henry as symptomatic of “ignorance from the top down” which excludes black people in television.

The 54-year-old told the Telegraph: “There weren’t any black people at the Baftas; there was no black talent.

“What’s the matter with those people? What were the judges doing? There’s just not enough programmes with black people in them.”

The funnyman who shot to fame in 1975 for his impressions of Stevie Wonder added: “In 200 years’ time, our children are going to look back to now and say, 'Remember that really weird period when there weren’t any black people in any programmes.’

“It’s unthinkable, but now we’re having to live through it. We’re in this slow, idling process towards change.”

Born to Jamaican parents who migrated to the UK, Henry - the ex-husband of comedian Dawn French – believed others had to take up the mantle of encouraging black talent.

“I’m working on things and trying to bring about change, but I can’t do it all on my own”, he said.

“We need to invest in these programmes, in rainbow casting, in all of the great black writers, producers and directors who make these programmes. And these shouldn’t just be niche programmes – they must be about things we can all to relate to.

“We’re an inclusive nation - it’s time to make some inclusive programmes. Frankly, it’s just ignorance from the top down”, Henry concluded.

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