Endemol Shine UK (which is owned by a joint venture between 21st Century Fox and Apollo Global Management) has acquired a 50% stake in Lenny Henry’s production company, Douglas Road, which was founded just a year ago by multi-hyphenate Henry and former "EastEnders" producer Barbara Emile. 

Its first project, commissioned in May, is 3-part/3-hour documentary for Sky Arts titled "Lenny Henry’s Got The Blues," which followed Henry as he attempted to uncover why the UK has never produced an internationally-recognized black blues star. Douglas Road also has a number of new shows in advanced development. With Endemol’s backing, Douglas Road says the company will focus on drama and comedy, as well as documentaries.

“Our ambitions are to generate high-end drama, comedy and factual entertainment that truly resembles the world we inhabit,” said Henry, adding, “Douglas Road takes inspiration from the plethora of races, colours and creeds that co-exist in the British Isles today… These are cultures filled with drama, comedy, fun, excitement, magic, romance, sex and inspiration. We look forward to working with the best of diverse British talent, both in front of and behind the camera.” 

“The creative vision and track-record of Lenny Henry and Barbara Emile and the progress they have made in a short space of time makes Douglas Road an extremely exciting company to partner with,” said Richard Johnston, chief executive of Endemol Shine UK. “They complement the other brilliant producers in our group and we look forward to helping Douglas Road move on to their next chapter.”

Sir Henry’s most recent efforts include a 10-part radio documentary on the history of black British theatre and screen, highlighting the "history and struggle of black British creativity" over the last century.

Titled "Raising the Bar," the series (part of the BBC’s On Stage season) was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 November.

As covered on this blog over the last year, Sir Lenny has been a prominent campaigner for greater ethnic diversity in the arts in the UK. He is part of BBC director general Tony Hall’s committee set up to improve diversity at the behemoth media company.