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Lenny Henry Launches Banijay-Backed Esmerelda Productions
Jon Sen and Lenny Henry

Lenny Henry has left Douglas Road to launch a sister scripted label within the Banijay UK group.

The writer and actor has teamed up with Casualty and EastEnders veteran Jon Sen to establish Esmerelda, which will work with under-represented writers, actors and crew on dramas and comedy with broad appeal.

The pair are joint managing directors at the new outfit, which is the eighth indie that Banijay UK has backed through its £50m UK Growth Fund.

Henry has stood down as chief executive of Douglas Road, which he co-founded in 2014 and which has been backed by Banijay UK since 2020.

Angela Ferreira remains in post as managing director of the label, which co-produced Henry's new ITV comedy-drama Three Little Birds with Tiger Aspect.

Three Little Birds review – Lenny Henry's Windrush drama is way too  sanitised | Television & radio | The Guardian

Three Little Birds

Henry described the build-up to the announcement as “ a roller coaster ride of keeping my nose to the grindstone and my mouth shut”. 

He added: “I am so proud that Banijay have seen fit to invest in us. I can’t wait to scheme and dream with my new, soon to be announced, team at Esmerelda led by the mighty Jon Sen, who is not only a talented producer but also an excellent writer and director.” 

Sen recently left BBC Studios, where he had been an executive producer on Casualty since January 2022, after three years at the helm of EastEnders.

He said: “Lenny and I are united in our commitment to offer artists a nurturing environment in order for them to celebrate their unique voices. Our shared love of the magic of story makes this a wonderfully exciting opportunity to make some exceptional drama.” 

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