IMAGINE…, A BBC Arts’ flagship documentary strand for BBC One will meet Sir Lenny Henry and Lemn Sissay in two new documentaries for winter 2019.
The documentaries will follow presenter Alan Yentob as he speaks to the two talents about their new memoirs and careers.
In these revealing and poignant films, Sir Lenny Henry will meet up with his closest friends, family and colleagues to remember his sudden rise to fame aged 16 on TV talent show, ‘New Faces’, which catapulted him from a working -class kid from Dudley to one of Britain’s most celebrated black performers.
Imagine…Lenny Henry, will also remember his other early breakthrough roles on Tiswas and Three of a Kind as well as five troubling years as the only black performer in The Black & White Minstrel show. Alongside his early achievements Lenny also discusses his recent career reinvention as a serious actor of stage and screen and his work as a political activist campaigning for greater diversity in the entertainment and broadcasting industry.
With Imagine…Lemn Sissay, Yentob will speak to the author about what it was like to grow up as the only black child in a sleepy market town outside Wigan in the 1970s, and how it felt when he was rejected at the tender age of twelve by those he had loved and left to fend for himself. His journey since has been one of discovery, learning not just that his name was Lemn, but that his parents were Ethiopian, a country he now visits regularly.
Alan Yentob, presenter and Series Editor says: “Lenny Henry and Lemn Sissay are two exceptional and original talents. They are also great story tellers. Here are two tales of the unexpected. Their recently published memoirs have received great acclaim and in imagine… they speak with remarkable candour in two truly revealing and inspiring encounters.”
Tanya Hudson, BBC Studios Executive Producer, comments: “Imagine… celebrates and explores the best in arts and culture both in the UK and internationally. As Lenny Henry’s first autobiography and Lemn Sissay’s memoir is published these revealing documentary portraits shine a new light on two of the best-loved and remarkable cultural figures of our generation.”