Lenny Rush, 14, hailed a ‘star’ by BBC viewers as he becomes first child to host Children in Need

Lenny Rush has been hailed a “star” by BBC viewers as he became the first-ever child to host Children in Need.

In Friday night’s broadcast of the annual fundraising programme, Mel Giedroyc returned to host alongside Ade Adepitan, Jason Manford, Chris Ramsey and Alex Scott. But this time, Giedroyc was joined by the latest addition to the presenting team: 14-year-old Rush.

The actor is best known for appearing as Ollie in the BBC series Am I Being Unreasonable?, a dark comedy co-written by and starring Daisy May Cooper, and in the children’s drama The Dumping Ground. This year, Rush had a part in Best Interests, the drama starring Sharon Horgan and Michael Sheen. He will be in the new series of Doctor Who next year.

Earlier this year, Rush won two Royal Television Society Programme awards, and in May, he won the TV Bafta for best male comedy performance for his role in Am I Being Unreasonable?.

In last year’s Children in Need broadcast, Rush dazzled the audience in a sketch as the hapless manager of a celebrity call centre. After that success, it was only inevitable that Rush would be invited to join the live presenting team.

Rush, who has spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, a form of dwarfism, realised he enjoyed being in front of the camera around the age of seven when his mother, Lisa, applied to be part of the BBC children’s channel CBeebies’ Our Family series.

After realising he was fascinated by the TV process, Rush started attending performing arts classes and became passionate about acting. After auditioning for stage roles, he performed for two years running at London’s Old Vic, playing Tiny Tim in its production of A Christmas Carol, and also starred in the BBC adaptation with Guy Pearce.

Rush with his co-presenter Chris Ramsey (BBC)
Rush with his co-presenter Chris Ramsey (BBC)

Speaking to The Guardian ahead of his Children in Need presenting debut, Rush admitted that he was “nervous” about the gig, but couldn’t down the opportunity.

“I am [nervous], but I think the excitement outweighs the nervousness. If I’d said no, and then I watched it that night, I would be gutted I wasn’t there.” He has watched it for years. “It means a lot to everyone,” he said. “It can be such a mix of emotions – watching the appeals can be quite emotional, and then you’ve got funny, uplifting sketches. It’s just a great night in general.”

Rush said that when he was younger, the only actor he saw with his condition was Game of Thrones actor Warwick Davis.

Jason Manford, Mel Giedroyc, Ade Adepitan, Alex Scott, Lenny Rush and Chris Ramsey presenting Children in Need 2023 (BBC)
Jason Manford, Mel Giedroyc, Ade Adepitan, Alex Scott, Lenny Rush and Chris Ramsey presenting Children in Need 2023 (BBC)

“Dwarfism covers a large scale and he has got the exact same type as me. There weren’t too many people out there. There is Warwick, and I remember Verne Troyer, and there’s Peter Dinklage, but they are the only actors I know, which is a shame. There should be more,” he told the publication.

“That is one of the reasons why I do acting – to get a bit of representation out there and hopefully encourage people,” he added.

On social media, BBC viewers have been praising Rush for his natural presenting abilities.

“How amazing is Lenny Rush he is a natural for tv,” wrote one viewer, as another wrote on Twitter/X that they are “obssessed” with Rush’s stage presence.

Another impressed fan added: “Love Lenny Rush, he’s just fantastic.”