As the 'Independent' writer embarks on a new feud, Tom Peck finds out if the years have mellowed her other great enmities
Lenny Henry, who re-entered the comedy world when he appeared on Live at the Apollo last autumn, is bona fide heritage material. The 52-year-old entertainer's latest show looks at his history through his passion for music. Family, first loves and fame are all set against a musical backdrop, from reggae rent parties at his parents' house in Dudley (where relatives gave him white rum that was "63 per cent alcohol, 37 per cent hospital") to the musical compromises made in marriage (to ex-wife Dawn French, though she is never explicitly mentioned), where Sade is the only common ground.
I know that we were meant to don black armbands and fly the flags at half-mast when Dawn French and Lenny Henry went bang, but personally I was pleased. I've had beef (and how fitting is that word, considering how fat we both are!) with that bitch since way back in the day, when I refused to be in a 1994 South Bank Show. This was some sort of celebration of morbid obesity – sorry, a "personal celebration of Big Women, drawing on art, photography, fashion, film and sculpture to ask why Big Women, who were revered and celebrated throughout the history of art, are now ignored by today's culture."
They were hoping to live fast and die young, but at least they can cash in on the golden age of rock'n'roll
Are you game?" the sexy partridge asks Stephen. "I am!" If such chirpy wit were characteristic of Lily Bevan and Finnian O'Neill's ten o'clock Christmas show, one would leave the theatre singing "fa la la la la". But when Stephen later asks his friend, doubting her sobriety, "Are you high?", one can't help thinking that the adjective could refer to the age and odour of many of her jokes.
For years, her unique brand of comedy has brought belly laughs to a nation of fans. Now, "Dear Fatty", the autobiography of Dawn French has been voted the best audiobook of the year by a panel of experts, who described the work as "pushing boundaries and challenging stereotypes".
The theme of the party was the 1950s, in celebration of the heritage of the venue, the sunken ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall.
Piazza by Anthony, The Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds, tel: 0113 247 0995