Lenny Rush is just 14 years old but tonight he will line up alongside five grown-up stars to host BBC Children In Need’s three-hour spectacular. The teenager is making history as the youngest-ever presenter of the telethon, which began in 1980.
The award-winning child star is best known for Daisy May Cooper’s dark comedy Am I Being Unreasonable?, which began in 2022 and will return for a second series next year. Lenny’s portrayal of Ollie, the son of Daisy May’s character Nic, bagged him a Breakthrough Award and a Performance (Male) Award at this March’s Royal Television Society Programme Awards, plus a TV BAFTA in May for Male Performance in a Comedy Programme.
Lenny lives in Essex with mum Lisa, dad Steve and younger brother Bobby. The teenager has spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, a condition that affects his growth.
Getty Images for BAFTA)
Steve works in kitchen design, while Lisa gave up her career as a dental nurse when Lenny was born. The teenager spent the first four months of his life in hospital due to his condition and has since had operations on his legs and spine, saying his condition “can affect your sight, walking, stamina, balance and hearing”.
The young teen is active on social media, where he often thanks his parents for helping him with his career. Mum Lisa, in return, calls him a “ray of sunshine”.
Lenny’s acting career began when Lisa applied for CBeebies docusoap Our Family. “I’ve sort of always been interested in acting but Mum signed us in for Our Family and it’s got my whole family in it,” he said. “I loved being in front of the camera so I went to an acting school and signed up with an agency.”
Boffola Pictures/Alistair Heap)
His agency, Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts, is run by the Birds Of A Feature actress. Lenny went onto appear in CBeebies shows Apple Tree House and The Dumping Ground and he played Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol at London’s Old Vic in 2017 and 2018, reviving the part for the BBC TV version with Guy Pearce in 2019.
Lenny’s seriously impressive resume continued roles in BBC’s Dodger, a prequel to the events of Oliver Twist, alongside Christopher Eccleston and BBC’s Best Interests, a drama starring Sharon Horgan and Michael Sheen. His next big role is playing Morris in the new series of Doctor Who, alongside Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa in the title role.
The actor starred in a Children In Need sketch on the show last year and speaking ahead of the big gig this time around, said: “The excitedness outweighs the nervousness”. It’s an honour and a thrill to be the first child presenter for Children in Need – I can’t wait to feel the buzz of a live show and to help raise money for children and young people across the UK facing disadvantages,” he said.
Other successful actors with dwarfism include Harry Potter and Extras star Warwick Davis and Games Of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage. Lenny would like to see more onscreen, saying: “That is one of the reasons why I do acting – to get a bit of representation out there and hopefully encourage people.”