Sir Lenny Henry confirms he’s stepping down as the Comic Relief host after nearly 40 years

What a brilliant thing he's helped build. Nothing but respect for this man.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 31st January 2024

After nearly four decades as part of the annual charity telecast, British TV legend and comedian Sir Lenny Henry has revealed he will be stepping down as the host of Comic Relief.

Lenny Henry is a household name across the UK and has been the lead host of Comic Relief ever since he co-founded the treasured non-profit organisation with fellow comedy writer Richard Curtis back in 1985, but has now confirmed this year’s broadcast will be his last.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Wednesday morning, the 63-year-old confirmed that 2024’s Red Nose Day programme due to air on Friday, 15 March will be his final outing, insisting that it’s now “time to hand on to the new generation” and for “new faces” to champion the annual campaign.

Sir Lenny co-hosted the inaugural Comic Relief show back in 1988, raising £15m in just eight hours of TV comedy. Since then donations have surpassed £1.5bn, with money raised each year helping to tackle poverty, providing food, healthcare and safe shelter for people in the UK and globally. Amazing.

Speaking in a statement, Henry said of Comic Relief’s journey: “I thought we’d probably do three shows and that would be it, but fast-forward nearly 40 years, and that enthusiasm and determination to step up and help others has never wavered.


“As life president of Comic Relief, I’m excited to see some new and familiar faces come forward now to present the big night and lead us into the next chapter.”

He went on to say, “There’s all these new, wonderful comedians with podcasts and nine million followers, and those guys or women should be hosting Comic Relief now so that the young people and the new influx of viewers can plug into the next stage… because there will be a next stage, and because we want to continue tackling issues of poverty and injustice.


Well said, and as Red Nose Day and Comic Relief continue to generate more and more vital funds year after year, it’s clear that the national love for this televised fundraiser hasn’t gone anywhere.

Here’s Lenny Henry’s much-loved sketch and penultimate turn as Comic Relief host from last year.

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Noting that he’s only ever had “one night off” since the first-ever telecast, he’s been at the heart and soul of the event and the campaigning surrounding Red Nose Day itself from the beginning.

As well as the last 12 months of fundraising, this year’s events will include a comedy night at the London Palladium on 26 February ahead of the annual TV broadcast.


Aisling Bea, Fatiha El-Ghorri, Joel Dommett, Mawaan Rizwan, Rosie Jones and Sara Pascoe are all set to appear alongside Sir Lenny as he bows after 39 wonderful years.

A truly incredible legacy that he should be immensely proud of. Thanks for everything, Lenny.

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Featured Images — BBC/Comic Relief