Sir Lenny Henry vows to make British TV the most diverse in the world


Comedian Sir Lenny Henry has vowed to continue making British television the most diverse in the world after receiving a knighthood from the Queen at Windsor Castle.

The Comic Relief co-founder, who was recognised for services to drama and charity, dedicated the honour to anyone who had contributed to or worked with the charity over its 30-year history. Over that time it has raised £1 billion.

Sir Lenny said: "I'm one of the pointy ends of it so I've been recognised as something, but the British public will all possibly get a turn at wearing this, because they're part of this too.

"And anybody who's given me work really, anybody who's elevated me to this position. There's a huge amount of gratitude there.

"I'm very thankful."

Sir Lenny has previously expressed concern over the low number of black, Asian and minority ethnic working in creative industries and said he hopes his production company, Douglas Road, will be able to encourage diversity in the television industry.

He said: "We're at the beginning of the journey, we're not at the end. There's a long way to go."

He added: "Perhaps we've made progress as far as on-screen representation is concerned, but there's a lot of work to be done in the furthering of diversity behind the camera.

"It's happening. I believe we're pushing against the open door. It's just that people need to be encouraged to work a bit faster."

Asked for his advice for any aspiring comedians or actors, Sir Lenny said: "I would say never give up. Never, ever give up."

He added: "This was not on the cards for me. I'm a working-class kid from Dudley.

"I was born in very lowly circumstances so for me to be here is a huge honour and completely unimaginable."

His fellow actor Martin Clunes received an OBE for services to drama, charity and the community of Dorset.

Mr Clunes said it was particularly special to have his ties with Dorset recognised: "I love living in Dorset and because it was a choice I made to live there, so I've invested my heart and soul in living there.

"To know that that registers in some way is nice."

Mr Clunes has met the Queen previously and said anyone who kept horses "knows" her.

He said: "We've spoken before and she just asked if this was for my work as the president of the British Horse society - which it isn't."

The Doc Martin actor found out about the award after receiving a "big brown envelope" marked as being from the Lord Chamberlain's Office.

He said: "I slid it across to my wife because I thought it might be a speeding fine. Luckily it wasn't."

Mr Clunes joked that he would love to find an event where he could wear his medal "legitimately, without looking like a show off".

He said: "If I'm feeling sad or scared I might put my medal on at home and feel a bit better."

His advice to young actors was a message of persistence: "It's nothing that serious - dressing up and pratting around - just keep at it if you want to do it."

Champion rower Sarah Winckless, who was honoured for services to sport and young people, said she did not tell anyone because she "had to see it in the papers" before truly believing it was happening.

Ms Winckless said: "I've been incredibly lucky with my sporting background and because of Huntington's (disease) being in my family, I've been able to support that community as well."

Winckless won a bronze medal in double sculls with her partner Elise Laverick at the 2004 Athens Olympics. She is also a double world champion.

She said the Queen asked about rowing and the pair briefly discussed the messages sport can help deliver for young people.

But Ms Winckless said her newly-awarded honour may not give her any more authority to mentor aspiring athletes.

She said: "I find with young people, giving them advice is always an interesting dance to do anyway."

She added: "It's about helping them make good choices and helping them understand where they are.

"I don't think they'll know what the award is, but I think it's lovely to the people who have supported me on this and the nomination for this - for me that's just incredible."

She said up-and-coming athletes needed to focus on small steps towards their larger goals.

She added: "If you're going to go all the way in a career or a sport, you're going to spend a lot of time doing it so loving it is really important."