SIR Lenny Henry has said it is "time to hand on to the new generation" as he confirmed he will host Comic Relief for the final time this year.

The actor and comedian, aged 65, who co-founded the charity in 1985 alongside Love Actually screenwriter Richard Curtis, has been hosting the BBC show Red Nose Day for decades.

He said he has only had one year off from the role, and that was when he was starring in a stage production of Othello.

The star, who hails from Dudley, told BBC Breakfast: "I'm not going to be hosting any more Comic Reliefs after this.

"I will make special appearances because I'm a life president. I'll be doing fundraising stuff, but I just won't be hosting on the night.

"I'll probably still do documentaries and announcements and things. But this is my last time of hosting the evening.

"I've only ever had one night off. That was when I did Othello at West Yorkshire Playhouse. But this will be the last time I host, because I think it's time to hand on to the new generation.

"There's all these new, wonderful comedians with podcasts and nine million followers and those guys or women should be hosting Comic Relief now.

"So that the young people and the new influx of viewers can plug into the next stage of Comic Relief, because there will be a next stage, and because we want to continue tackling issues of poverty and injustice.

"It's time to hand over the reins, as it were."

A special night of comedy at the London Palladium will pay homage to how Comic Relief began 39 years ago with Sir Lenny.

Comic Relief - Live At The London Palladium will feature comedian Rosie Jones, This Way Up actress Aisling Bea, The Masked Singer presenter Joel Dommett, and The Great British Sewing Bee host Sara Pascoe.

However, Jones has said she will not be making jokes about Comic Relief or Sir Lenny when joining him for the event next month.

Jones said: "I don't think I will make any jokes about Sir Lenny because he has always been a hero of the mine and (also because of) what he's done for Comic Relief from the start (has been) incredible.

"I'm just so, so thrilled, to be honest, to be part of the line-up and I for one will be celebrating, so no jokes will come from (me) about Lenny."

This year, Jones also takes part in a sketch to launch Red Nose Day 2024 on Wednesday alongside This Morning star Alison Hammond, presenter Davina McCall, actress Dame Joan Collins, Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey, and Britain's Got Talent judge Simon Cowell.

The celebrities are seen answering Sir Lenny's call to help Comic Relief.

The fundraiser supports people going through homelessness and poverty as well as fleeing war and climate change.

Comic Relief - Live At The London Palladium is on February 26 and Red Nose Day returns to BBC One on March 15.