By Issy Flower
Comic Relief’s biennial fundraiser, Red Nose Day, can be traced back to its inception in 1986 with the first fundraising show, ‘Comic Relief Utterly Utterly Live’. More comically-based than other charity projects, the stars featured in various projects have ranged from Rik Mayall and Miranda Hart to French and Saunders, appearing in sketches and presenting roles and missions all over the country.
A particular highlight of the Red Nose Day celebration is the BBC telethon, which began in 1988 and continues every two years, alternating with its sister project Sports Relief. Over the years, the show has featured memorable sketches such as Rowan Atkinson’s Doctor Who, French and Saunders’ versions of ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Harry Potter’, and Little Britain meeting Elton John. A charity single is also often released, including highlights such as Peter Kay’s ‘Is This the Way to Amarillo’ (a playground classic for this particular writer), a comedic cover of ‘Living Doll’ by The Young Ones, ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ by The Saturdays and The Wanted’s ‘Gold Forever’. This commitment to entertainment is at the heart of Comic Relief as a whole, which was set up by Lenny Henry and Richard Curtis, alternative comedians whose anarchic spirit often makes the show and charity as a whole more unpredictable than its cosy BBC counterparts such as Children in Need.
This commitment to entertainment is at the heart of Comic Relief as a whole
A key element of the charity itself is its ‘Golden Pound’ principle, where every donated pound is spent on real charitable projects in places ranging from the UK to Serbia to Sierra Leone. Mental health is also a priority for the charity, as they are committed to ‘increasing the accessibility and appropriateness of mental health support services for those most in need’. Funding safe and secure accommodation for people across the world whose living arrangements are temporary or poorly managed is also one of the priorities. Therefore, Comic Relief ensures that any money donated on Red Nose Day is spent on, and only on, a wide variety of meaningful projects across the world.
Comic Relief ensures that any money donated on Red Nose Day is spent on, and only on, a wide variety of meaningful projects across the world
So, how can you help? Those of you in houses can watch and enjoy the charity telethon on the 25th of March, and donate through the telephone number listed during the show. For the rest of us, Sainsburys is selling Red Noses including such varieties as Nosediva, Conk Jester, Wolfnose, and Schnoz III, whereas if you can get to one, TK Maxx is selling an adorable range of Disney themed t-shirts made in Fairtrade certified co-operatives in Uganda, meaning that in buying them you are both helping the charity and people in need directly.
Red Nose Day is one of my favourite charity events of the year, not only for the entertainment value it brings to the BBC schedules but most importantly because for over thirty years it has done important work for people all over the world who are in need. Although it may have begun as a direct response to the Ethiopian Famine, its effect has been wide-ranging, and it will hopefully continue to be both popular and life-changing long into the future.
Photograph: richard via Flickr