Sir Lenny Henry waves goodbye to Comic Relief for final time with ‘I’m Just Len’ Barbie ballad

Comic Relief co-founder said programme needs ‘new blood’ after 39 years as host

Ellie Muir
Saturday 16 March 2024 16:48 GMT
Comic Relief 2024: Lenny Henry fights back tears in last speech as show host

Sir Lenny Henry tearfully took his final bow as the host of Comic Relief on Friday night (15 March), after fronting the annual fundraising event for the past 39 years.

As one of his last hosting duties, the presenter, 65, donned a blonde wig and fur coat as he transformed into Barbie’s Ken in a rendition of “I’m Just Ken” from the hit 2023 film.

In the remix called “I’m Just Len”, Henry sings about his decades hosting the annual programme, with the lyrics: “What will it take for me to leave these shows, retire this nose... face destiny?”

Later in the programme, he said it had been an “honour and a joy” to be the face of Comic Relief.

He said: “It is not about me – it is about the mirth and the money, the comedy and compassion.”

Henry co-founded the charity behind the annual comedy broadcast with filmmaker Richard Curtis in 1985.

During an evening full of tributes to the actor, co-host David Tennant thanked him for “an amazing tour of duty”, while Davina McCall said her fellow presenter would be “one hundred per cent totally and utterly irreplaceable”.

Lenny Henry transforms into Ken for final Comic Relief (BBC)

Henry added: “There are so many people living tough lives in incredibly difficult situations here in the UK and beyond… for the last 40 years we’ve made these films and you’ve watched them, and every single time you’ve come through.”

Speaking about the reason for his departure earlier this week, the host said the programme needs “new blood”.

“This is a good time to part ways and to allow a new generation to take the baton and move the whole thing on a bit,” he said.

Lenny Henry celebrating 25 years of Red Nose Day in 2013 (Getty Images)

This year’s cast of hosts included Love Island presenter Maya Jama and comedians Paddy McGuinness and Romesh Ranganathan.

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Friday’s highlights included a spoof movie adaptation of The Traitors, in which Gentleman Jack star Suranne Jones wore a wig and played host Claudia Winkleman. Meanwhile, Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey played winner Harry, with David Walliams starring as Traitor Paul and Asim Chaudhry as popular Faithful contestant Jaz.

Catherine Tate played both Charlie and Evie in a reference to a long-running joke among viewers that the two contestants looked identical.

The cast of Gladiators, darts sensation Luke Littler and pop group McFly all made appearances on Friday night’s programme, which has so far raised more than £40m for Comic Relief.

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