Lenny Henry dubs Bernard Manning a 'spherical racist northern comic' in new book

Sir Lenny claimed Manning seemed to try and "annoy as many of the audience as possible" during his sets


Lenny Henry has taken aim at household comedy name, Bernard Manning, in his new book Rising To The Surface.

The Dudley-born comedian dubbed Manning "the spherical racist northern comic" whose "raison d’être seemed to be to annoy as many of the audience as possible."

Bernard Manning.
Bernard Manning.

Manning was known for his no holds barred stand-up style, but he wasn't without controversy.

Esther Rantzen attacked Manning on a show hosted by Michael Parkinson over the subject of his material: "Anyone can tell a dirty joke", she said.

The 64-year-old crossed paths with Manchester-born Manning on the 1982 show O.T.T. (Over The Top).

Henry recalls Manning disrupting a stand-up gig he was performing. He "sat there like an oversized comedy sphinx amidst the muggles and roared his approval at every gag that didn’t work", Henry writes.

Manning, standing at the stage door, caught Henry after the show and told him: "By the way, if ever you’re going by my club... keep going..."

Rising To The Surface by Lenny Henry is published on September 1 by Faber, priced £20.