Danny and the Human Zoo

Saturday, 24th October 2015

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Sir Lenny Henry’s fictionalised, semi-autobiographical drama, Danny and the Human Zoo, which used Farquhar Road, Moseley to double as the street, in Dudley where Sir Lenny grew up, will hit our screens on Bank Holiday Monday.

Newcomer Kascion Franklin plays the young Lenny Henry, Sir Lenny plays his father, Samson and Cecilia Noble play’s Lenny’s mum Myrtle. The drama focuses on the comedian’s early career, performing in working men’s clubs around the West Midlands – a circuit known as the Zoo.

When Danny wins a talent competition at his local club it is not long until he is a regular on circuit. Audiences cannot get enough, applauding as he morphs into Mohammed Ali, Tommy Cooper and Frank Spencer. Eventually he hits the big time on TV – an unheard-of achievement for a young black boy in the 70s.

But Danny’s world is a series of complex minefields, which he has to negotiate: his home life – which his mother rules with an iron fist in an iron glove; his love life – where the Irish girl he is in lust with will not give him the time of day until he wins his first competition; and the ups and downs of his career.

The rising star is taken advantage of by an unscrupulous manager who forces him to star in a show – Musical Minstrel Cavalcade. Danny hits rock bottom. Having made his name becoming other people, Danny has to save himself by finding out who he really is.

The film premiered in Sir Lenny’s hometown, Dudley, in August and was followed by a question and answer session with the man himself. Catch Danny and the Human Zoo on Bank Holiday Monday at 9pm on BBC1.