Leny Henry blasted over stammering gag

Comic Relief sketch backfires

Lenny Henry has been branded ‘deplorable’ and a ‘bully’ over a sketch in Friday’s Comic Relief telethon.

The British Stammering Association said the opening scene, in which the comic became frustrated with the speech impediment in a clip from The King’s Speech was ‘gross and disgusting’.

Henry was digitally inserted into the Oscar-winning film, where he was shown to be getting frustrated with the Prince’s stuttering, eventually shouting: ‘Hurry up, we only have seven hours, you know.’

The charity’s Norbert Lieckfeldt said: ‘I am sure this kind of catchphrase will be used by bullies all over the United Kingdom against children who stammer in the playground. We would like to congratulate Mr Henry, and the BBC, for joining the ranks of the bullies.

‘This scene lacked any redeeming feature, any possible grace, any attempt at humour, other than a gross and disgusting gleefulness at pointing out someone else's misfortune.

‘If The King's Speech had dealt with the King's brother's epilepsy, or perhaps with the issue of cerebral palsy, Mr Henry (and the BBC) wouldn't have dared coming up with this caricature of a sketch. But apparently, despite the good work of the film and the surrounding publicity, both the BBC and Mr Henry feel it is quite alright to say to a stammering adult or a stammering child, "Hurry up, I haven't got all day".'

The association urged all its supporters to make a formal complaint to the BBC – and about 100 are believed to have done so.

A BBC spokeswoman said there was ‘no malicious intent’ behind the sketch.

Here it is:

Published: 21 Mar 2011

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