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Lenny Henry offers insight into his childhood in BBC1's Danny And The Human Zoo

Published 12/08/2015

Lenny Henry, left, stars in the one-off drama alongside newcomer Kascion Franklin and Cecilia Noble as his mother Myrtle (BBC)
Lenny Henry, left, stars in the one-off drama alongside newcomer Kascion Franklin and Cecilia Noble as his mother Myrtle (BBC)

Comedian Lenny Henry said opening up about his childhood is so raw that even his sister will not read the script.

The Comic Relief funnyman stars in and wrote BBC drama, Danny And The Human Zoo, a "fantasy memoir" of his life as a talented teenager in 1970s Dudley.

Speaking at the show's premiere screening, the writer and actor said: "Because a lot of people in my family are alive, if I'd written it exactly the way my life had been, I would have annoyed a lot of people.

"It's a bit like a parallel universe Lenny. My sister still won't read it because she thinks it's too rude."

Henry, 56, portrays Samson Fearon in the one-off drama, which stars newcomer Kascion Franklin as aspiring impressionist Danny and Cecilia Noble as his mother Myrtle.

"The storyline with my mum and dad is based on the truth. I didn't want to write it in a way that was pedantic," he said.

"I talk about my mum and dad in every interview I do. The dad I talk about is the person that raised me. I wanted something that was truthful about the way we grew up and our family ... I t wasn't like it was a big deal or anything. I'm glad I have written about it and it was about time."

Henry - who has openly spoken about his estranged relationship with his father, who died when Henry was 19 - said it has been "great" imagining up alternate scenarios.

"What's great about writing a parallel universe is that you can do things, and comment on things that people didn't do in real life," he said.

"I had a five minute conversation with my dad in this parallel world - that never happened! Samson is very similar to my dad - often he would come home from work and he would barely speak - he'd say, 'I want to watch the cricket' and things like that, but it wouldn't be a conversation.

"All of that stuff I've made up there is about how great would it would have been if my dad did give me advice, had said things. This is really like me talking to me when I was 16."

Danny And The Human Zoo, which charts Lenny's beginnings in working men's clubs and his work with the Zoo, will be shown on BBC1 later this month.

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