Sir Lenny Henry appointed Birmingham City University chancellor

Comedian and actor Sir Lenny Henry has been appointed chancellor of Birmingham City University.

The 57-year-old – who was knighted last year for services to drama and charity – has been a prominent campaigner on increasing diversity in the arts.

He said the role was a “superb opportunity” to promote the West Midlands and help young people.

Dudley-born Sir Lenny first found fame after winning TV talent show New Faces in 1975.

He said the university has facilities that “rival anything in the television industry”.

“[It] is right in the centre of a city that has changed beyond recognition in recent years and offers the sort of contemporary education I would have killed for when I was a kid,” he said.

Sir Lenny Henry: a varied career

  • Began as a stand-up comedian, winning New Faces in 1975
  • Helps to found charity Comic Relief in 1985
  • After a string of TV shows and stand-up tours turns to Shakespeare, playing Othello in 2009
  • Knighted for services to drama and charity in 2015
  • Records and releases a blues album

Professor Cliff Allan, vice-chancellor of the university, said Sir Lenny was “one of the country’s most well-known personalities” and his appointment would inspire students.

“He not only encapsulates the university’s commitment to both the arts and widening participation, but he is a strong advocate for Birmingham and the region, including his home town of Dudley,” he said.

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