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Lenny's Britain - Family Matters

Updated Tuesday, 5th June 2007

We begin the series in the bosom of the family. Here, humour is a way of dealing with tensions, especially those arising from the rights of passage - birth, marriage and death.

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Lenny Henry Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

The film is set in the West Midlands, Lenny's birthplace. His parents came to Dudley from Jamaica in the 1950s. Although Lenny was one of seven children, he was the first to be born in the UK. The Henry family lived in 'Paradise' or, at least, on the edge of a park with that name.

Lenny's brother Paul remembers their mum:

"My mum was a very strong willed and forceful mother - she needed to be, with us kids. She gave us confidence, and instilled in us the positive feeling of being 'accepted' which has stayed with me all my life. Her motto was 'keep your feet on the ground and work hard'."

To appreciate how other families generate humour, Lenny heads for a huge Sunday lunch with the Bonners. Who is the family joker? What are taboo subjects? And what can you only joke about within the confines of your family?

It's then onto a bus out of Dudley for Lenny. He travels to where the Black Country ends and Birmingham begins. He's off to attend the wedding of Gucci and Tom, joining in their last-minute attempts to find a seating plan for their divided family and to rehearse the best man's speech.

Next, it's the birth of Mathew and Julie's daughter. Lenny meets a group of midwives, and attempts to discover how their humour helps them cope as they're up to their armpits in the birthing pool.

Finally, in complete contrast, Lenny mucks in for the day at Henry Court, a sheltered housing scheme for the elderly and which was named after his mum. Here Lenny comes face to face with the exceptionally bawdy Doreen, a seventy-nine year old who doesn't have a clean joke to tell.

First broadcast: Tuesday 12 Jun 2007 on BBC ONE

 

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