Comedian href=”” target=”_blank”>Lenny Henry is to make his theatre debut as Othello, it was announced on Thursday.

Lenny will star in a production of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy on a tour of the UK. The comedy star, who turned 50 this year, said he has wanted to play the part since making the film True Identity in Los Angeles 17 years ago.

In the film, Lenny played a black actor who wants a role in Othello, but has to adopt the identity of a white man to escape the Mafia.

He said: “The sub-plot involved my character understudying (actor) James Earl Jones in the role of Othello. He and I discussed the role many times over the filming period, and as one of America’s premier black actors, I felt honoured to have the privilege of his wisdom.

“He told me that when the time was right I should jump in with both feet, work hard, keep my eyes and ears open and let the text do all the heavy lifting.”

He added: “I hope to get a diverse audience, people that haven’t been to the theatre before. I do see this as something I’m going to want to do more of. I really like theatre and my wife (Dawn French) has done a lot of theatre. I’ve seen her acting ability grow over the past 14 years and it clearly expands your brain.”

Othello will form part of the spring season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds next year before going on a national tour.